Profile view of a man in a grey T-shirt wearing a virtual reality headset.
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3 ways extended reality can help your employees

3 Jun 2019

Forrester analyst Jennifer Wise explains how XR experiences using AR and VR can be best applied with employee use cases.

After returning from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year, where I walked miles to test every virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experience, one thing was clear: they aren’t ready for mainstream consumer use. But what about for employees?

When I spoke on The CX Cast about the applications I’d seen at the event, it sparked a realisation that the opportunity for extended reality (XR) – whether that be VR, AR, or mixed reality (MR) – was much more immediate with employees than with customers.

This led to the recent report, ‘The Extended Reality Opportunity Today: Your Employees’, in which Sam Stern and I share the three main employee use cases for XR today.

 1. More training

XR enables more employees to have more practice time in low-risk, virtual environments. Applications span everything from Walmart preparing its employees for the once-a-year, but critical, Black Friday to surgeons mastering surgical procedures.

One example we researched was the FLAIM Trainer, which allows firefighters to closely simulate risky scenarios with little risk and less expense. This happens through a combination of VR elements to simulate a fire, along with real-world equipment such as hoses and even haptic gloves (a huge feature for the interaction design), which simulated kickback from extreme water pressure.

2. Information in the moment and in context

AR works well as a replacement for physical manuals, helping technicians focus on their tasks but still with the information they need available. It also works for in-person contexts, letting an employee onsite remotely connect with an expert to share, draw on and solve what they are seeing in real time.

One AR tech vendor we spoke with highlighted an example of their technology in use to show technicians how to properly install hardware, leading to a 30pc increase in installation efficiency and a 90pc improvement in first-time accuracy.

3. Building empathy for customers and colleagues

The immersive quality of XR helps employees see the perspective of others, from colleagues to customers, more vividly.

For example, Embodied Labs created VR empathy training for caregivers and doctors that shows the perspectives of people with specific diseases or impairments, such as the Beatriz Lab. This experience simulates the progressive loss of visual and auditory function brought on by Alzheimer’s disease.

Don’t forget the employee experience

Beyond the value XR can provide, you’ll also have a more captive audience with your employees, whom you can equip with the right technologies and more easily compel to try something new. But that doesn’t mean that you can neglect the experience design!

For many employees, it will be their first time experiencing AR or VR, so they’ll need clear instructions about how and when and in what settings to use the new functionality. Companies should also consider technology limitations and make sure they test with real users before rolling out to the entire target employee population.

By Jennifer Wise

Jennifer Wise is a principal analyst serving customer experience professionals. Her research focuses on the role of emerging technologies in customer experience with a primary emphasis on user experience (UX) priorities, such as user research, interaction design and design team skillsets.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Forrester blog.

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