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Written by Kim Devlin-Allen
on 26 Oct 2020

For years, wearable computer devices were popular only among technology enthusiasts and gamers who used them for a life-like experience at 3D versions of video games. More recently, however, the use of head-mounted displays and other reality technology devices have moved beyond gaming cafes and science labs into the business landscape.

Organizations are testing and implementing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in a range of applications. Besides transforming workplace communication, marketing, and manufacturing practices, these technologies have reinvented methods of employee training.

How are companies using VR for training?

Manufacturing and retail businesses, including Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing, UPS, and Walmart, are actively adopting VR for their worker upskill programs and have registered positive outcomes.

In the initial phase, Walmart implemented VR technology in 220 of its academies across the US. As these were tethered devices, employees had to visit the academies to use the tools. Now, Walmart has rolled out a mobile VR program for customer service and compliance training that is accessed by roughly 4,600 of its countrywide stores and helps train more than one million employees.

By using VR, Walmart has been able to improve its retention rate and increase its student scores by 10 to 15% in their academies.

How are companies using AR?

While VR has found greater application in workforce training, the use of AR devices is also bringing positive outcomes for businesses.

By leveraging AR applications for example, an organization that has workers with differing levels of expertise and experience can optimize the use of its skilled resources. In essence, it does not always need to send its more experienced employees for the resolution of issues affecting business assets or customers. Senior technicians can visualize the problem on the field remotely through AR glasses. By understanding the issue as is, they can give necessary directions to on-site workers for problem resolution.

Is there a need to invest in AR/VR for more effective employee training?

The Training Magazine estimates that businesses in the US spent $83 billion on training in 2019, and employees received 42.1 hours of training per year on an average. Do such expenses deliver the desired results? The facts speak for themselves.

As per Axonify’s State of Workplace Training Study conducted in June 2019, 41% of surveyed workers reported their training to be ineffective. Respondents said that they get only occasional training and in impractical ways that don’t really help them to do their job better. They also said that training methods were not engaging, or overloaded with theoretical information.

Such results show that when companies depend on traditional, periodic, and formal training manuals, they miss out on the valuable possibilities created by the digitalized learning and development approach.

By earmarking training budgets for AR/VR training methods, organizations can build personalized learning experiences for employees and ensure they gain the knowledge that is integral to their jobs.

 

Six reasons why reality technologies are a game-changer in workforce training

Simulate actual scenarios for immersive experiences

VR is an efficient learning tool on account of a concept cognitive researchers call “presence.” It refers to the idea that in several ways, VR feels so real that the brain responds as it would react to actual experiences. With this feature, VR enables more effective training, especially for people who work around machines and heavy equipment. It takes them to a simulated work environment and helps them to understand and experience what PPT slides and videos used in theory classes cannot fully explain.

Eliminate risk and safety concerns

A key advantage of learning through AR/VR technologies is that learners can access and understand high-risk situations from the safety of their training rooms.

A trainer may provide handouts and verbally explain how to handle calamities or challenging situations at work. However, this is inadequate to prepare them for scenarios that can become stressful and complex to deal with. Mock drills do not fully replicate a real-life situation, and exposing trainees to real scenarios can be costly, hazardous, and even illegal.

VR then becomes the best option to train people in handling real risks in a secure and cost-effective environment. It also allows trainees—in simulated situations—to learn from their mistakes, the real-world consequences of which could be costly or fatal.

Support a variety of learning styles

In classroom and seminar training, instructors typically use teaching techniques that they prefer. These could be visual, acoustic, or tactile and may not fit into everyone’s learning styles.

On the other hand, when trainers incorporate VR in their modules, they can combine all such methods to make workforce training more lucid and logical for all. VR experiences impact all the senses and help trainees to learn by watching, listening, and feeling the concepts that are demonstrated. Education specialists around the world are increasingly admitting that reality technologies have the potential to invigorate conventional teaching methods.

Minimize time and travel equation gaps

VR makes for a realistic training platform for remote employees. Companies with operations across regions and countries are not restricted by time and travel gaps when they train their workforce through VR apps. They can also give new field workers the real experience of working in different terrains without actually taking them to those areas in the training period.

As an example, utility engineers in training can visit virtual sites for a comprehensive understanding of the different equipment they will need to maintain and upgrade. They can effectively traverse expansive utility networks before they actually visit a specific site.

With VR’s ability to transport and transform, businesses can also attend industry events and join discussions in more immersive and personalized ways.

Customizable and budget-friendly training sessions

Reality technologies are directly tied to outcomes. Businesses can gather metrics from virtual education and check how VR is improving their training efficacy. Any facts or skills learned through VR sessions can be tested, and trainers can provide feedback to trainees in real time. Accordingly, modules can be modified to increase the emphasis on particular aspects of training.

VR training is more cost-effective because it does not involve bringing actual equipment to training locations (or taking the trainees to them); this also avoids wear and tear of machines. New employees can get trained on operations in their life-like simulated world from any location.

 

Plug into a whole new world of reality tech

The remotely accessible and personalized experiences that reality technologies deliver have helped businesses to enter a new phase of training and worker skill-upgrading. From manufacturing and supply chain management to healthcare and defense, VR and AR have made it easier to apply knowledge for real-world outcomes.

Cyient has tapped into the possibilities that these technologies can bring and is helping organizations to apply them innovatively for a range of business applications. To learn more about our work in the AR-VR domain, please visit here.

 

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