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Is virtual reality the next “It” factor in corporate training

Poornima Matthan
Poornima MatthanCountry Manager-Communications,Lenovo India
Poornima Matthan heads Corporate Communications at Lenovo India. She has completed 10 years at Lenovo. Poornima is a seasoned communicator with over twenty years of experience in Marketing & Communications and has worked in major PR consultancies and corporates in the US and in India. Poornima’s first love is music. She sings Jazz and Pop professionally, loves to paint, read the classics, write poems and prose, travel the world and help animals in distress!     

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In this world of digital transformation, technology like virtual reality has become so commonplace that it may seem a little like we are living in the land of science fiction. The truth is, however, that this technology is nothing new and has actually been used as a tool for training for years. It can be argued that a form of virtual reality existed as early as the 1920s when the military used flight simulators to teach pilots skills for night flying. In 1929, we can see this technology being taken even further with the creation of the “Link Trainer”, a commercial flight training simulator that imitated flight factors such as pitch, roll, turbulence and disturbances. Today, the technology of virtual reality has seen some considerable advances and has many benefits as a tool for training. With this in mind, let’s take a look at why virtual reality training is the next “it” factor in corporate training.

 

The Benefits of Virtual Reality Training

There are many benefits to implementing this technology in your corporate training. One significant advantage that virtual reality training gives you is that it significantly reduces risk. If your company utilises dangerous, high-risk equipment, it can be extremely beneficial to make use of virtual reality technology to train your employees on this equipment in a risk-free, controlled environment. Even if your industry is not a dangerous one, virtual reality can create realistic scenarios where your employees can learn exactly what is expected of their jobs before they even start. As Indusgeeks puts it,

Picture this: Let’s say you’ve been newly hired, fresh out of school, as a technician for a highly complicated, extremely dangerous (and very expensive) piece of machinery at a factory. Would you rather want to learn how not to do things (at the cost of either your life, the machine or your job) by working with the actual machine itself? Or would it be so much better to practice with a simulation that was able to accurately recreate every aspect of the machine itself? 

Virtual reality training can also be much more fun and enjoyable. If your staff are getting trained in a way that is pleasant and even entertaining then they will be more likely to engage, understand and learn from their training. Consider this quote from Visualise,

Deloitte wanted to make the process of learning about corporate responsibility more fun and memorable. To do this, we created a series of films from the point of view of an employee who encounters a variety of difficult situations. At certain parts of the experience the user has to make a decision – for example, should they report their colleagues who are sharing private client information, confront them or leave them alone.

The choices they make lead to different outcomes in the video and allow the trainee to learn from their actions immediately, as if they were actually there. The result for Deloitte was a far higher level of engagement in their training exercises and a greater retention of information.

This technology is also very beneficial as a training tool due to the fact that it reduces training costs significantly by eliminating the need for expensive training prototypes and trading them in for a single tool that can save you time and money. Virtual reality technology is also significantly cheaper than it has been in the past. As stated by Cerasis,

In the 1980s, virtual reality required 486 space-consuming computers, bulky gloves and headsets, and the creation of extremely detailed software for every virtual reality application. As a result, manufacturers could not justify the cost of using virtual reality. Yet, newer technologies, such as predictive analytics models, advanced data storage, and increased processing power from the cloud, are helping manufacturers save money across an enterprise, opening the door to virtual reality. Additionally, the cost of creating a virtual environment has grown cheaper as technologies and electronics have become less expensive.

At the end of the day, it comes down to the numbers and that is where virtual reality can help you.

 

Industries that Benefit from Virtual Reality Training

There are many industries and disciplines that are already benefiting from the advancements in virtual reality technology for training. Here are a few examples:

  • Sales Training: Sales is one industry that has benefited from the use of virtual reality. This technology can create realistic scenarios where employees in training have to put their sales skills to the test before stepping out on the sales floor. It is also helpful in reducing the stress and anxiety often associated with sales by creating an environment where sales staff can practice in a risk-free environment first.
  • Healthcare: This technology has also been used in the healthcare industry for surgery training. In real life, surgery is, of course, a high-risk activity. However, when implemented as a surgery training tool, surgeon trainees can practice their skills without any repercussions. It also creates an environment where students can try out new techniques in a situation where experimentation is not a risk factor.
  • Manufacturing: Virtual reality has also proved beneficial in the manufacturing industry as a training tool that makes use of what-if type scenarios which helps to minimise the risk of injuries, production delays or other costly incidents.
  • Hospitality/Retail: Hospitality and retail are both industries in which good customer service is a must and virtual reality can help when it comes to training in this area. An article from Insights states:

“The technology at the heart of the app is a voice analysis algorithm that detects the user’s ’emotional fingerprint’. The algorithm analyses the fractal patterns in the user’s voice and uses it to determine their confidence, engagement and stress. The app then provides the user with instant feedback, giving them pointers on best practices and tips on how to improve in the future.” 

This technology is extremely beneficial in creating realistic scenarios where users can learn from their mistakes.

  • Safety/Risk Management: When you are performing a task that has a high-risk factor, it benefits you to be able to learn your job first in a scenario where there is nothing at stake. Virtual reality is helpful here in that there are endless scenarios that can be created for learning a job before the risk factor comes into play.
  • Mechanical Training/Repair: Virtual Maintenance Training utilizes 3D simulations as a way of training employees on virtual equipment. This technology teaches trainees how to work on equipment in an environment where there is no threat to the equipment or the one working on it. It can also be very advantageous to companies that work on expensive equipment as it trains employees on proper repair before they even put their hands on the actual equipment.

As you can see, virtual reality technology has taken great strides in recent years and has proven to be beneficial in training staff in numerous industries and disciplines. This form of training is vital for reducing risk and unwanted expenses and can be incredibly profitable for you. If you have not yet considered this technology as a training tool for your company, I urge you to do so as it can greatly benefit you and significantly implement cost saving measures for your business.

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