Despite being in the public domain for decades, VR has struggled to shed its reputation as a consumer gaming tool.
Until recently, the use of VR in the corporate world has been relatively limited. Now, however, businesses are recognising its potential, and VR technology is beginning to reshape workplaces and workforces.
One of the most powerful commercial uses of VR is in employee training. The benefits that VR brings to gaming — immersion, engagement — are also hugely beneficial in a training context. These attributes, paired with a VR platform’s ability to capture detailed trainee data securely, will pave the way for more effective, more data-driven learning and development programmes.
Data capture for continuous improvement.
In the past, data on human interaction or engagement has been difficult to capture in a reliable way. This can cause significant challenges for employee learning and development, as traditional methods of training are difficult to quantify.How can you know how your employees have interacted with a training session, and what they’ve learnt or struggled with?
This challenge is particularly acute when workers need to be trained to operate a particular piece of equipment or to perform a specific sequence of tasks to complete a complex procedure. These skills are nearly impossible to impart in a classroom and even more difficult to measure. Companies often resort to a clipboard model, with a trainer walking trainees through a process and manually recording their aptitude. This method is prone to human error and inconsistencies.
Training scenarios that take place in VR offer the opportunity for an entirely new level of assessment and data collection. Every action an employee makes in the VR setting — whether that be stacking boxes or speaking with a colleague — are fed into a dashboard, providing a rich layer of data.
This can be used to understand an individual’s mastery of each required task as well as flagging opportunities for improvement and continued learning. Further still, team assessments can be analysed as an aggregate, helping businesses to identify if there are particular areas where a number of employees are experiencing difficulties. This might indicate where the training experience itself, or even the real life procedure, might need to be improved to benefit the wider team.
Additionally, staff are able to repeat the training again and again, allowing for organisations to compare training performance over time and monitor for improvement and efficiencies achieved, providing measurable outcomes and demonstrating ROI.
More than a virtual reality.
With that said, there is no use having a powerful data capture tool built into your L&D process if your employees don’t take any interest in it. But VR training is truly immersive, prompting much higher levels of engagement than traditional training methods.
The technology immerses users in realistic, simulated scenarios, providing checkpoints and specific tasks that need to be completed to follow standard processes and procedures, while encouraging interactions with colleagues within the environment.
The VR headset eliminates visual distractions, increasing engagement and improving retention of training material. Adding gamification elements can also encourage healthy competition among staff as they look to beat their training score, both against themselves and their colleagues.
Knowledge is power.
VR technology continues to evolve, and increasingly sophisticated functionality is becoming available that will further increase the usefulness of VR in the enterprise space. Developments such as moving from text-based reporting to the ability to record training sessions in full will allow for more nuanced and dynamic feedback from trainers and employees alike.
VR’s potential in the business world is finally being realised. As business leaders fully grasp the benefits that it brings, VR’s reach will extend to more and more sectors, resulting in vastly improved training programmes that are more engaging for staff and more effective for employers.
About the Author
Justin Parry is Chief Operating Officer at Immerse, a company that creates dynamic, measurable and scalable immersive VR training for business, built on a secure cloud-based platform offering full analytics.
As co-founder, Justin designed and led product development of the Immerse platform. In his current role as COO, he leads the product strategy, overseeing the delivery of all technology and VR content across the organisation.
He has 20 years of experience creating and growing B2C and B2B products for start-ups and global organisations. He has developed and launched online platforms, websites and mobile products across the world and joined Immerse from his role as Global Director of Internet Yellow Pages for Yell Group
Featured image: ©LightFieldStudios