Augmented and Virtual Reality Take Their Place in Workforce Management
Virtual reality has been a staple of science fiction for decades, and an element of video gaming in recent years. Augmented reality (AR), which burst into the public’s consciousness with the launch of Google (News - Alert) Glass (glasses which project information across the user’s field of vision, overlaying reality), has found a niche in manufacturing. (Imagine a technician fixing a complex machine using AR glasses to view what normal operation of the machine looks like in AR and compare it to the faulty operation he’s viewing in reality.) Increasingly, both AR and VR are finding applications in the enterprise.
In a recent article for HC Online, Dr. John Burgin, head of digital business, Asia Pacific and Middle East, for Cognizant (News - Alert), outlined how the technologies are shedding their gimmicky and expensive reputations to become important workforce management and training tools.
“Organizations across multiple sectors can now help users visualize data and instructions that overlay their physical environment, and experience immersive environments to aid learning and performance,” he wrote. “The technology has matured to becoming portable, comfortable, lightweight and user-friendly. The latest AR applications are not complicated to set up and, once installed, require minimal guidance.”
Increasingly, AR and VR are being used as interfaces for business processes, workflows and employee training. Businesses today are looking for new methods of workforce development and training that don’t involve long, disruptive classroom sessions that lead to little retention by employees. There Is evidence that these more immersive training and workforce development technologies based on VR and AR lead to faster improvements in employee performance and better retention.
“For example, new manufacturing recruits previously had to rely on manuals and demonstrations when learning how to operate machinery,” wrote Burgin. “With complex procedures and long training sessions, most employees will not have the confidence to apply their training. This can be replaced with immersive experiences through AR as it imitates the real world. Not only is this more effective, but it also removes any interference with company operations, as the actual machines don’t have to be switched off or reserved for training purposes.”
Off the factory floor, field service employees or help desk workers who troubleshoot complex problems in a contact center environment could use AR and VR to diagnose customer problems, look up solutions and see real-world examples of how to solve the issues.
“Field service engineers, for example, can use wearables to access checklists and work manuals, and interact with objects hands-free while working on a job,” wrote Burgin.
Going further, employees in the office using complex new software could use AR to guide them through menu choices, drag-and-drop functionality, creating new files, performing complex searches or using unfamiliar features. As the AR and VR sectors mature, said Burgin, solutions providers will be able to produce experiences that mimic real environments accurately and allow real-time interactivity. This can reduce hardware and people dependencies, and empower workers to perform their jobs to a higher standard.
Edited by Alicia Young