By Justin Parry, COO at Immerse,
Widespread working-from-home is likely to be here to stay for the knowledge economy, even as lockdowns ease and companies begin to reopen offices. It’s therefore critical that leaders, L&D and HR professionals find new ways to deliver effective training to a disparate workforce.
Virtual reality (VR) is one of several tools revolutionising the way that companies across all sectors train, engage and retain their employees. VR immerses the participant in a digitally rendered environment, providing a simulated experience in which users can interact with their surroundings, practise processes and compete with their colleagues.
Not only is VR an excellent way of providing collaborative, interactive training when workforces are dispersed, but it also brings a whole host of other benefits compared to more traditional training methods. These include higher levels of engagement and better learning outcomes and information retention. VR training platforms also generate huge amounts of data that can be used to help maximise employee performance and improve training and business processes.
The financial services sector is no stranger to emerging technologies. There are a variety of virtual reality applications across insurance, investment banking and consumer banking making a positive difference to global training programmes. Organisations can now help train staff more easily using visual simulations to navigate complex models, products and services in a more personalised and accessible way.
Immerse’s open Virtual Enterprise Platform (VEP) enables companies to create, scale and measure VR training. The integration of Immerse VEP with untethered devices like Oculus Quest – an all-in-one VR system created by Facebook’s Oculus – takes virtual training to the next level and makes it accessible to a wider range of businesses. With VR on an untethered device, users can engage with the training at any place and time, using just a headset and controllers.
These are some of the key benefits of VR training.
- Coming together while miles apart
As companies look to limit unnecessary travel in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, VR training can provide an excellent way of providing effective, remote training, with employees from around the world gathering in one virtual space.
Companies can use an open VR platform like Immerse VEP to create, scale and deploy their own training programs. Employees no longer need to travel to a particular location to receive training, and remote or distributed teams can train together in the same environment.
- Better training outcomes
Studies by the Cyber-Human Lab at the University of Cambridge have found that VR training methods can result in 55% faster task completion times than non-VR methods, and better outcomes in terms of quality of work and learning retention. The team also found that using a traditional paper manual training process resulted in up to 200% more mistakes in subsequent on-the-job performances compared to a customised VR training process.
- Continuous improvement
VR opens up a world of new data to training professionals and business leaders. The platform tracks user movements, comments, speed, errors and more, feeding thousands of data points into a dashboard. Analysing this data allows the training experience to be tailored to the employee, and can also overhaul the way that training is implemented, helping teams demonstrate the ROI of programs and constantly improve them.
As the data is used to refine the training programs, companies benefit from
better-trained employees, higher levels of employee engagement, and even the improvement of wider business processes.
Training untethered, but not untracked
VR can be delivered via a computer with a connected headset and controllers, or via an all-in-one (or untethered) device. All-in-one headsets are the direction that the industry is moving in: Immerse’s integration with the Oculus Quest and other untethered devices is a watershed moment for VR training.
For enterprise – particularly industries like finance where data protection is high-priority – the demand for ease-of-access needs to be balanced with maintaining security, however. Immerse VEP can be plugged directly into existing enterprise systems, with access to training gained via a PIN system. Employees simply open the Immerse VR application and enter a PIN, and then the training program launches.
Crucially, more flexibility doesn’t have to mean less data; this agnostic integration allows businesses to easily track and capture individuals’ progress. As training is completed, detailed data is generated, and can be saved to a central store and sent to a company’s existing Learning Management System (LMS). VR training sessions can also be broadcast via a browser to other users. All of the user data that is generated from a session flows into the enterprise system.
Enabling a flexible future
With COVID-19 causing a dramatic shift in terms of ways of working, flexibility and remote-working is here to stay. It will not always be possible – or productive – to deliver training on-site or in-person. VR can fill the void. And compared to more traditional training approaches, VR can also reduce costs, speed up information absorption, and increase retention and engagement. Immerse VEP enables VR training to be meshed seamlessly with companies’ existing systems, and its integration with standalone devices opens up even more possibilities and will allow more businesses to provide VR training to their employees.