Extended reality (XR) solutions provide unique immersive experiences that allow staff and students to engage and collaborate better, and learn at a pace that matches their learning styles. These technologies can aid learning and training at reduced costs and with positive ROI.
The benefits of XR learning and training can include:
- Reduced turnover - Providing workers with a more active and engaging learning environment can aid in retention
- Cost reduction - Reduce incidental training costs (travel time, per diem, facility & equipment rentals)
- Better preparation - Simulating scenarios that are costly, difficult, or impossible to reproduce (specific emergency scenarios for example)
Staff training that utilize various types of extended realities (VR, AR, MR) is gaining momentum and can yield strong ROI for businesses. Many outlets have praised the efficacy of digital and extended reality training methods. In fact, the World Economic Forum projects that 58% of companies will be using immersive technology by 2022.
Here are a few examples of training using extended reality modes:
Walmart conducted a virtual reality (VR) training pilot program in 2017 that was so successful it decided to roll the program out to its 4,700 stores nationwide. Their pilot results indicated that store associates reported higher satisfaction, scored up to 70% higher on tests, and retained information 10-15% better than with traditional training.
Multinational aerospace corporation Airbus has teamed up with Microsoft to sell mixed reality (MR) technology geared for the aerospace and defense industries. Airbus has been using Microsoft's HoloLens to train workers for over four years and has since identified more than 300 additional applications for mixed reality in their operations.
From the janitor to the CEO, every member of a company requires a level of safety training. Since it can affect risk mitigation and even be mission-critical, safety training needs to support the attention and learning styles of the diverse personality types that make up a company.
Immersive training engages and informs in a much more realistic way than screen-based powerpoints and 2D safety guides. And, a recent study shows that safety outcomes can be improved by using immersive training such as VR. The research, funded by the UK's Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, suggests that "increased cognitive engagement of learning in the virtual environment creates more established and comprehensive mental models."
Study findings included:
- Increased long-term information recall with VR vs. PowerPoint training
- Engagement, attitude towards health and safety, and desire to repeat training was better in the VR environment than with PowerPoint training
- Evidence that virtual environments can be used as a predictive tool for human behavior in emergencies
Sales associates are benefiting from extended reality as well. The Untitled Project blog reported that their VR training gave sales employees chances to experiment with real-world sales scenarios and build confidence.
VMware's Vice President claims that VR technology "has proven to be a powerful sales training tool for creating lasting impressions and increasing product recall and retention."
But extended realities are not just good for internal use. They can help increase top-line revenue as well.
Extended Realities and Customer Experience
XR training's ROI potential can extend beyond staff and into the customer experience.
Customer XR experiences can be self-service options while sales associates are preoccupied, as well as being powerful sales motivators. Extended realities have the power to immerse a user into an experience, and that immersion is the key to holding customer interest.
Customer Experience During the Sale
BARE International found that augmented reality (AR) and VR technologies are particularly attractive in performance-oriented industries, such as car dealerships. AR and VR can be used to help engage and entice customers and has the added benefit of reducing the amount of costly floor space, sales associates, and on-site car models required.
Another interactive & engaging example of immersive training and the customer experience is seen with Starbucks' flagship Roastery based in Shanghai. They use AR to enhance the retail experience by letting visitors access fun visuals and educational information about Starbucks and coffee roasting through their mobile phones.
AR can also be used to turn customer's homes into virtual showrooms. Ikea Place, for example, uses AR to allow customers to visualize specific furniture in their homes prior to purchasing.
Customer Experience After the Sale
The improvement to customer experience goes beyond the sale. Hyundai has developed an AR-based digital owner’s manual that teaches drivers about their vehicles and how to troubleshoot and maintain various features.
Extended Reality ROI
XR technologies more readily connect users to concepts and real-world scenarios. Employees and customers require less time to learn lessons, retain information more thoroughly and for more extended periods, and show more enthusiasm for learning when they are taught using XR tools. These improved outcomes are some of the many reasons companies are seeing positive ROI from their XR investments.
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