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XR To Meet Upskilling Challenge, Immerse Exec Says

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The ongoing global upskilling challenge has forced companies and organisations to explore innovative solutions, many of which have unleashed the impressive potential for human resources (HR) and training firms dedicated to meeting the demands of a rapidly shifting global workforce.

Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) tools have met such obstacles with equal force, providing a new generation of insight, analysis, and promise for HR professionals seeking to build and keep workforces operating at their optimal capabilities.

XR Today spoke with Justin Parry, Immerse Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, to discuss the role of XR training in upskilling current and future workforces for their desired job roles.

The company’s training platform includes partners across multiple devices, including Meta Quest, HTC VIVE, Pico Interactive, SAP, NIIT, and Amazon, among others.

XR Today: Which functions do you consider essential when developing and deploying your VR training platform?

Justin Parry: We have a dedicated Customer Success team that works with customers to set up the platform and also establish their overall deployment strategy. A successful initiation is about more than buying headsets and content — it requires a range of functions client-side to ensure success, which usually includes a business stakeholder and representatives from HR or Learning and Development, IT and Operations.

The business stakeholder will have overall control of budgets and key decisions around hardware, use cases, and content, and will sometimes be from an Innovation team or some other transformation function, but they can also be in HR.

Regardless, HR and Learning and Development involvement is key to ensuring any VR deployment does not take place in isolation and is rooted and recognised as an important part of their digital learning strategy.

IT ensures that security, hardware and supporting software such as Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools all meet company requirements. They will also sometimes take ownership of the hardware, although it can depend on reaching a certain level of scale. Ops are there to take first-line support for hardware, software and content where required.

The only thing to mention is there are usually people on the ground actually putting headsets on employees’ heads. This is somewhat dependent on the manner of deployment, but it often begins with learners visiting training rooms, so we’re always very keen to create connections with those people on the frontline!

XR Today: How can firms leverage data and analytics with tracking and monitoring protocols? Why is data such a crucial component for immersive training?

Justin Parry: Data is a crucial component of immersive training as it provides a whole new level of performance and user behavior insights, enabling firms to continuously improve based on the information that’s being captured in ways that were not previously possible.

Within traditional learning models, we can track and capture available data like semantic data, speech patterns and decision-making. Data capabilities within VR, on the other hand, go beyond that. VR training provides a heightened level of immersion, enabling firms to track body language and movement through space while increasing the authenticity of responses and emotional engagement.

In the near future, eye tracking, facial expression, and biometrics might also become possible with mainstream headsets, which will only improve the ability to generate and measure realistic responses. All of this is very different from trying to capture real-world training on a clipboard.

In terms of leveraging this data, we base all of our measurements on xAPI – the industry standard for learning data – and have developed our own 4-level system and grammar, allowing this data to be captured against more traditionally structured objectives. All of this data, or a subset, can then be sent back to existing company systems in the same way as any other digital learning material.

One of the key issues with data is that there is so much of it. We can generate huge amounts of data, but the question is whether anyone will look at it, and more crucially, actually do something with it. With this in mind, we have also identified a method for automatically measuring return on investment (ROI), which we plan to overlay on top of this system, based on the offline methodology we have already successfully used with our customers and will help learning and development teams evaluate effectiveness more quickly.

XR Today: What do you believe your product offers multinational firms and why have they chosen your solution for their operations?

Justin Parry: Unlike other platforms, the Immerse technology and commercial approach is totally open and accessible, allowing immersive content to come from any source. This gives options to enterprise companies and moves away from the walled-garden approach we see in the wider industry.

We’ve also been developing this platform since 2016, so we’ve experienced and solved problems that only come from feedback, time and focus. This includes the largest marketplace of licensable immersive training modules developed by the world’s best content creators, allowing companies to get up and running quickly and cost-effectively.

Marketplace content is created using the Immerse SDK, which is also available directly to enterprise organizations seeking to create custom content themselves. This SDK comes with built-in modules for standardizing UX design and reporting configuration, plus the ability to authenticate users and transfer user performance data. It can also be used by any third-party developer creating content for an Immerse enterprise customer.

Customers love this flexibility and are often surprised we’re happy to work with any other company in the space, regardless of whether they may be seen as competitors. Our view is: if the content is good, then it belongs on the platform.

As well as providing choice to enterprise organizations, this also allows creator companies to develop and sell a blend of licenced and custom content to their customers, providing global reach and access to new and recurring revenue, with the added ability to leverage our ready-to-use, enterprise-grade platform for their existing customers.

XR Today: With its experience, does your company believe the XR industry can tackle the ongoing upskilling crisis? How will this offer tangible results in the future?

There is no doubt that the XR industry can play a significant role in tackling the ongoing upskilling crisis. Today’s skills challenge largely stems from developments over the past few years, with many companies either implementing a hybrid work model or expanding to incorporate a large distributed workforce.

With these developments, workforce training has become costly and more challenging than ever before, and nearly half of HR professionals believe that today’s training development is not fit for purpose in hybrid and distributed working environments.

The existing models for remote learning, for example, tend to be less accessible, passive and unengaging. This creates a lack of opportunities for workers to upskill, driving low retention rates and poor production in the long run.

To overcome these challenges, companies need to find a remote learning solution that is accessible, engaging, and acts as an enhanced version of in-person training. The Immerse Platform and Marketplace —  and the wider XR industry — address these hybrid and distributed workforce training challenges in ways that will continue to improve society.

The Immerse Platform and Marketplace offer credible, off-the-shelf training modules and advanced content suitable for almost every industry. Training modules can be deployed at scale and distributed to anyone, anywhere at any time, creating an abundance of opportunities for workers to upskill.

Additionally, within one central environment, progress can be tracked and data can be captured in a meaningful way, which empowers workers to reflect on their performance and truly better themselves during the upskilling process.

The Immerse Platform and other XR solutions also encourage upskilling and enable HR teams to engage their workforce in exciting new ways. According to figures, 61 percent of employees think that companies that fail to employ cutting-edge immersive training technologies will struggle to attract and retain top talent.

Workers want to try out the latest technology, and by leveraging XR solutions, HR teams can make upskilling more enticing for those who are considering taking their work to the next level. While undergoing training with a VR headset, workers also have no choice but to engage in what’s in front of them, driving better, lasting results for both themselves and their organization as they continue to upskill.

We’ve seen our customers experience a 95 percent increase in learner engagement, a 45 percent increase in learner throughput, a 69 percent decrease in training time, and a 77 percent ROI. With tangible results like this, it’s clear that this technology will only continue to play a more significant role in overcoming the upskilling crisis.

We truly believe that this industry is going to be huge, so we’re thinking big. We have announcements coming that we believe will be game-changing, but at the same time, we know we have to work together as an industry to realise the full potential of this technology.

That’s why we’ve taken our open approach and why we open our arms to any content creator out there. If you have great content or software that can plugin to our platform, we’re interested in talking. We know we’re not good at everything and are instead forging a model that we believe truly works for enterprise customers, but also allows us and our industry partners to deliver the value we’re best at.

 

 

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