5 steps CXOs can take to enable AR and VR training for employees

A recent survey shows that younger generations are more interested in learning via simulation exercises than more traditional methods, but offering this will require adjustments from companies.

Honeywell's new AR and VR simulator uses Microsoft HoloLens to train the industrial workforce

Several weeks ago when I was visiting with learning and development firm CGS, we discussed a recent survey done by the company that revealed that training programs were failing the hundreds of thousands of "deskless" workers in the U.S.

One interesting revelation from the survey was that Generation Z, or those born between the mid-90s and mid-00s, learns differently than Generation X, or those born roughly between the mid-60s and early 80s. "Gen X prefers videos for learning, but gen Z wants video simulations," said Doug Stephen, learning division and country manager of CGS Canada.

Standard videos illustrate how something is done. In contrast, a video simulation is more game-like in nature and may feature augmented reality (AR). Adoption of augmented and virtual reality (VR) as teaching tools is still in the early stages, but is becoming increasingly common in larger companies.

SEE: How Honeywell hopes to train tomorrow's factory workers with an AR/VR simulator based on Microsoft HoloLens (TechRepublic)

At first glance this seems like a subtle change in the training landscape that won't require much of an adjustment from an IT standpoint --but it isn't.


Because moving from standard training to AR and VR simulations will require more bandwidth for delivery of the simulations, more robust IoT to host the simulations, revisions to business processes so the organization can add and incorporate video simulation talent, and a digital transformation strategy that ties all of this together.

It will likely be up to CIOs and CDOs to make all of this happen. To make this happen, leaders will likely have to redefine how they (and their organizations) think about big data.

Here is a partial CIO and CDO to do list:

1. Active salesmanship

You might see that bandwidth and big data-intensive technologies like AR and VR will reshape IT and organizational requirements for video, but your upper management might not. In plain English, you and other stakeholders like HR and customer service departments will need to explain what types of process and technology improvements are needed to enable simulation training, and spell out the business benefits that the investment will bring.

2. Help to facilitate business process change

Understanding the power of video, some organizations have begun to implement their own in-house video production departments so they can produce simulations. This requires a change in business processes, along with revisions to organization charts.

SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)

3. Add bandwidth and cloud-based storage

Large files of big data will need to be stored and readily accessed by workers wherever they are, which makes the cloud the best place for storage. Bandwidth needs for video simulation transport will also dramatically expand. These IT resources must be planned and budgeted for.

4. Facilitate a new training approach

Traditional HR approaches to more static types of training will change with the shift toward AR or VR. These simulations will not only need to be produced, but they will need to be certified by experts to assure that the simulations are absolutely correct. IT resources will be needed to help facilitate this.

SEE: How Sephora is leveraging AR and AI to transform retail and help customers buy cosmetics (TechRepublic)

5. Integrate big data into the business

The emergence of video simulation as a new big data and digital technology is only the latest signal that business executives need to stop referring to big data as if it is a separate research project that the company is engaged in--and instead simply view big data as just another type of IT that is integrated into business processes to help the business--because they can't afford not to.

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Image: iStock/DragonImages

By Mary Shacklett

Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...