Major retailer uses VR to boost employee training

by Brett Henebery02 Jun 2017
Last year, with the aim of further enhancing the learning and development of its staff, Walmart opened a training academy in South Carolina – the first of 200 more to come.

The organisation expects about 140,000 people to be trained at the academies each year, providing them with targeted training on the skills they need.

Now, the retail behemoth is preparing to roll out Virtual Reality (VR) headsets in each one its academies to boost employee training in areas such as customer service and management.

The Oculus Rift headsets will allow employees to use interactive on-screen cues to make decisions after encountering various situations. The training sessions – designed to replace traditional instruction – will last about thirty seconds to five minutes.

The new VR instruction sessions are being introduced following a partnership between Walmart and STRIVR Labs, a leader in VR human performance training.

“We don’t do anything that is not a good use case for VR,” STRIVR CEO, Derek Belch, told TechCrunch.

“We have experiences for the lowest-level bagger all the way up to the store management.”

Virtual Reality training is fast becoming an L&D trend, with many organisations utilising the technology as a training improvement resource.

Paul Sweeney, general manager of Daqri – an Augmented Reality (AR) company headquartered in Los Angeles – says that when this technology becomes mainstream, it could make engineering education redundant.

“In the next five years or so we will probably not have classroom training, they will just have training on their head, on the job,” he said.

Daqri’s ‘smart glasses’ overlay a hologram of a machine's internal information in a worker's actual line of sight.

“In the age of machine automation, Daqri's aim is to help manufacturers keep their workers. We are putting the machine on the human's head so the human is in control,” he said.

A report released in February by Cognizant – titled: Augmented Reality: A New Workforce Mobilization Paradigm – offered a glimpse into how this type of technology is boosting learning in the workplace.

The report points out that innovation is a constant in the information technology industry, continuously changing the way services are delivered to the business and to end users.

“From the mainframe era on to the Internet stage, we’re now experiencing the fifth IT wave, an era in which social, mobile, analytics and cloud [aka the SMAC Stack] are forming a new digital foundation with which to power business,” the report states.

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