Virtual Reality – Is it about to revolutionise the world as we know it?

According to Facebook, 75% of all business owners expect to be utilizing VR technology in the next two years, while global spending on AR and VR is set to rise 6 times.
Neil Stone

The future is Virtual Reality

According to Facebook, 75% of all business owners expect to be utilizing VR technology in the next two years, while global spending on AR and VR is set to rise 6 times. There are countless reports pointing to this positive future for virtual reality. The AR and VR market is expected to grow to $209bn by 2022. For me, it’s a welcome indicator that at Talkout, our VR as a service platform is on the right journey for scale. There is no doubt that VR transformation within business services and support is undergoing record growth, right across the world, right now.

I’ve been working in technology for 25 years, primarily developing tech solutions that enable large-scale businesses to become more efficient & effective. Projects ranged from major players like BT to organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce and the development of tech connectivity within science parks.

Immersive gaming inspires employee training

A constant theme throughout my career has been figuring out how to unlock business efficiency and almost more importantly, how to design friction-free integration for new technology to help do that. The challenge for any innovation is often not if it is needed but when it is needed and whether humans are ready to embrace change at that time.

That’s why gamification and the gaming experience has constantly inspired me to think differently. I wish I could capture just 10% of that game playing joy and engagement. My ambition is to bring that immersive experience to everyone in the workplace.

Having developed my own studio, my work in games technology naturally progressed into virtual reality. The VR adoption journey started in gaming although now occupies an ever-increasing space across multiple organisational sectors from military training to education. The enterprise and entrepreneurial energy behind VR is growing even faster.  As Facebook predicted, businesses will soon overtake the entertainment sector, using VR to enhance successful user engagement.

Organisation development re-wired

With [1] the Talkout Worlds VRaaS platform, I’m incredibly excited about how we can realise this global vision. Our goal is to positively transform workplace training and wellbeing support for teams through leading-edge technology. We call it ‘organisational development re-wired’. It’s where we combine software, VR, and mobile applications to accelerate learning and support in a culture of workplace wellbeing and connection. After significant investment, we now have a platform that removes many of the conventional barriers to VR and has the potential to revolutionise how organisations approach learning and development. It’s already being framed as the Netflix of training. We’re proud to be the disruptors of outdated training conventions and wellbeing support.

So what makes us different?

In simple terms, our ‘plug and play model is easy to use, standardised for all businesses, cost-effective, and just like Netflix, immerses users with multiple layers of content and modules that are easy to select. We offer each user their own personal development journey. By integrating VR training with our mobile app and online resources that support positive mental health at work, users can access, manage, track and re-play their entire development journey.

A set of core compliance training modules come preloaded whilst other more specialised modules can be added at any time in the future. We have designed the system to work across all types of sectors and all departmental needs from health and safety training, HR onboarding systems, training in culture and diversity, or customised training for retailers or manufacturers.

A great case study example is a national automotive retailer we are currently working with, using VR in their health and safety training. It’s very specific training related to their working environment. VR has become an indispensable tool for their business, enabling employees to take part in a whole range of virtual and potentially dangerous workshop scenarios, which just could not be replicated in the real world.

Knowledge retention and speed of VR training is a huge benefit

Conventional classroom training with standard PowerPoint slides usually takes place over 2-3 days. In VR this can be delivered in 2-3 hours. And because people are so engaged with the immersive aspects of Virtual Reality, evidence shows that knowledge retention is much higher. What’s more, none of the training is location-specific so access to training is leveled up and costs are leveled down.

The financial benefits are already making an impact on our clients, Arriva Trains has seen over half a million pounds in cost savings. Adopting our VR into staff training, the company has increased the retention and depth of training for their teams. By replicating real-world scenarios through ‘digital twinning’, staff are better trained and know exactly what to do and when. Police force clients are seeing an average of 95% savings. The average cost of training has been reduced by £3,000 to £60 per officer.

Over the next few years, the pressure of expectation from newly recruited graduates will be hard to ignore. Across colleges and universities, VR is already heavily integrated into learning. Attracting new recruits without adopting modern VR innovation could be a barrier to attracting talent.

A fast growth comes with challenges

The future adoption of VR in the workplace is exciting but not without challenges. Whilst we no longer face an uphill educational VR challenge – in fact, the pandemic has created much more of an open mindset amongst business leaders. There is still fear. For some people, the worry is whether the integration of VR will take jobs away. But this is not the case. We still need expert people to design and manage the training modules and even one step further – we can place training leaders into virtual training scenarios to help familiarise and bespoke training.

There is always a question about cost and complexity. But these worries are also unfounded.  Our case study evidence, as well as many other independent analysts, shows that not only does VR significantly reduce training costs but also delivers better learning outcomes. Combine this with our simple VraaS proposition means the technology is even more affordable and accessible for organisations of all sizes.

For me, the future is incredibly exhilarating. All the indicators show how the VR market is continuing to innovate. Artificial intelligence will play a much greater role in product development and VR technology that enables a blend of real-time and virtual worlds are two exciting areas for growth.

In the short term, it’s all about focus. With so much opportunity, the key question is where to prioritise innovation. Our roadmap is showing its indisputable value as quickly as we can. We are committed to making virtual technology a game-changing reality!

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