So, you’ve accepted that extended reality and immersive technology are part of the future to which organizations are rapidly hurtling. After all, a PwC 2022 survey uncovered that  51% of companies are integrating virtual reality (VR) into their strategy or have already integrated VR into at least one line of business. FOMO (“fear of missing out”) is ratcheting up the pressure on companies to act fast. But where do you start?

As someone who had steered clear of gaming through my teenage and adult years, and only donned my first headset in Fall 2020 (never to look back because I was so enthralled with the quality of my training experience), I went through plenty of trial and error in immersive technology adoption and implementation. Distilled from my experience is this blueprint for kickstarting a VR implementation journey, based on a classic why-who-what-how-when paradigm.

Why

Before starting to dabble in VR, consider what value-add immersive learning experiences will bring to your organization. There are several reasons for adopting VR, including:

  • An urgent need to meet your learners where they are in the Metaverse.
  • Making your corporate culture stick through new employee onboarding within VR .
  • Getting your L&D teams ready for your industry’s foray into extended reality.

Another step is to identify what VR would add to your organization’s human capital strategy and practice. Would you use VR mainly for meetings and events, for collaboration and brainstorming, for self-learning with VR simulations, or for instructor-led training? Perhaps the answer is “all of the above.” A pulse check survey could be a good starting point as you seek to answer “why.”

Sample Pulse Check Survey (Edstutia 2022)

The next step is organizing your extended reality needs and trying to bucket them into cohesive strategic priorities that can span multiple use cases so that you can get the biggest bang for your buck and make a strong case to your decision makers.

Who

This brings us to who should be involved in VR adoption decisions. Along with human capital decision makers, you will need to build a guiding coalition with leaders within your organization’s innovation, technology and transformation initiatives. Some companies have started creating Metaverse task forces and have even created new titles such as “chief Metaverse officer” for firing up their internal change engines.

As with any robust transformation initiative a la Kotter, figure out who can help you create a sense of urgency, role model change behaviors and champion extended reality adoption. This will become your guiding coalition to help form a strategic vision around VR deployment in the organization, your champions who can remove barriers and help you generate short-term wins.

As organizations grapple with this transformation, enabling key stakeholders to participate in a VR-enhanced change management learning module can add a nice “meta” touch of reflecting on Web 3.0 transformation while experiencing extended reality firsthand.

What

This is where you get your hands dirty. As VR is an experiential, immersive technology that is rapidly evolving, your metaverse explorers will likely need to take some time to research and become educated on the various aspects of extended reality adoption. Some starting points are outlined in the chart below.

“What” Starting Points Details
Software ·         Types of VR platforms and software.

·         2D versus 3D VR expériences.

·         Degrees of Freedom (DoF) in VR and how 3DoF versus 6DoF technology impacts the immersive experience.

Hardware ·         Headsets.

·         Desktop specifications if using 2D VR app.

Other considerations ·         Firewalls and data privacy regulations.

·         Access and inclusion policies.

·         Types of immersive technology (i.e., VR, AR, MR, and the best mix for organizational needs)

Joglekar, 2022

Exploring the “what” question will help you strengthen your “why.” For example, while researching industry best practice and use cases, you might find that there is no precedent for the technology within your domain, which gives you the chance to be an early adopter and gain competitive advantage. If other use cases exist, your research might need to uncover how you can differentiate your VR adoption and deployment in alignment with your brand image or strategic priorities.

How

There are two aspects in tackling the “how” question: Determining the best way to deploy VR for your organizational needs and figuring out whether it will integrate well within your existing learning experiences and systems.

Best Practices for Deployment

In your VR competitive landscape review, you will find that some VR vendors offer platform access only while others offer off-the-shelf training modules in VR, and some others offer end-to-end content design, development and delivery support. Which capabilities does your organization need? Would a white-labeled platform where your trainers can create their own content be sufficient, or do you need consulting help in rolling out the most impactful training content for your learners?

Based on my experience, if you want your change initiative to stick, I recommend taking a holistic view and investing in design ,development and delivery cycles following an ADDIE methodology. 

Learning to deliver immersive training experiences is a solid investment in capacity building as you prepare for the Metaverse tipping point. It also sends a message to the organization that you are serious about leveraging immersive learning technologies for more impactful training.

Integrating With Existing Systems

Consider whether the VR platform acts as a substitute for online learning (not recommended), as a supplement for online and in-person delivery (recommended), or as a safe space for deliberate practice and building skills and competencies (recommended).

You will also need to figure out how the VR platform dovetails with your existing learning management system (LMS) or learning experience platform (LXP) and what metrics can be measured. VR-based learning metrics can include gaze tracking, time spent in VR, voice tracking, heatmaps and more. This is where the magic happens in terms of time to skill proficiency, learning retention and learner satisfaction: VR learners have been shown to train four times faster than in classrooms, are 4x more focused than their eLearning peers, are 275% more in their ability confident to apply what they’ve learned and are 3.75% more emotionally connected to the content, according to PwC findings.

When

You might think that the time for VR adoption was “yesterday!” In practical terms, however, thinking through timelines, budget approval cycles, and phased introduction of key VR adoption stages will help set you up for success.

If there is one takeaway from my VR training adventure so far, it is this: before succumbing to FOMO panic and picking the first VR solution that comes along, you should take a deliberate look at your company’s Metaverse readiness priorities. Starting small with a lot of patience navigating emerging technologies, giving yourself and your organization time to adapt are all ways to create a long-term strategy that has resilience. Being purposeful includes role modeling transformation through senior leadership, celebrating short-term wins and addressing gaps. Then, repeat. That’s the mantra for a virtuous cycle of transformation, Metaverse edition.

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