With more and more people working remotely, business leaders are looking to technology to increase human touch in an increasingly virtual workplace. Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the fastest growing technology because it enables workers to stay connected, be in touch with remote co-workers, and work shoulder-to-shoulder with experts for real-time feedback.
Leading research company, IDC, reports that 19.2 billion dollars will be spent on hardware, software and services relating to AR in 2019.
This investment illustrates a radical, transformative shift in how people collaborate and communicate. With the help of AR, forward-facing businesses are gaining a quantifiable competitive advantage. The question is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ your business will embrace AR and gain tremendous benefit with this unique technology.
If you’re curious about how to prepare your business for the future, this Special Report offers a roadmap for AR readiness.
What is AR?
Augmented Reality (AR) is a powerful way to show feedback, much like you’ve seen sports announcers use to explain football plays. With lines, circles, and data provides a composite picture, blending actual environments with supplementary images.
In AR, visual information is laid on top of real environments and products. Information such as annotations, lines, colors, supplementary images, buttons and videos are presented together— as one complete scene.
Businesses are using AR to show factory equipment, products, office layouts augmented with layers of information such as statistics, data, video, still pictures and detailed checklists.
Many businesses are using AR for advertising and branding, helping customers to choose, interact, buy, get help and upgrade at every point of the buying cycle. But that’s only the start of where and how AR can be used.
Forward-facing organizations are already using AR to help employees get real-time feedback to learn skills faster and easier. Augmented reality holds tremendous potential to bring a sense of human touch to every employee across a distributed workforce. Real time feedback puts new and experienced workers together for rapid exchange of ideas, collaboration.
This is a powerful way to connect-the-dots for new hires, leverage knowledge across different locations, and grow skills.
Is your business ready for AR? Here is a quick 6-step guide to make sure your are ready to start, create and succeed in using AR to save time and improve results.
Step One: Identify The Big Problems Your Business Is Facing
Organizations who are currently using AR are seeing quantifiable results and massive ROI. Some of the most popularized uses are in industrial and manufacturing. AR is being used to
manage problems arising from retiring workers leaving businesses, worker shortages, high turnover, and simplifying complex procedures.
Immersive training in AR is proving to be a solution that transforms giving feedback, training and handling situations that are complex, dangerous and remote.
To identify the greatest value for your business, it helps to look first at the big problems. 3 Big Problems
ONE: Retiring Workforce Older workers retiring, leaving skill gaps and taking organizational insights with them. This mega trend has often been called a ‘Silver Tsunami.” It is seen in many industries including oil and gas, manufacturing, and leadership. The baby boomers are retiring. Organizations of all sizes are feeling the pain and gaps caused by loss of experienced workers.
A Deloitte report predicts that 4.6 million new manufacturing jobs will be created in the United States between 2018 and 2028. Yet, 2.4 million of these jobs are predicted to remain unfilled. Many industries are facing this identical challenge—an aging workforce retiring, taking years of expertise, knowledge and industry insights with them.
According to a recent BBC article, the labor shortage from retiring workers will affect many industries for the next several decades. This problem is not going away. It is increasing. The departure of skilled workers is leaving many businesses and industries at risk—reducing their ability to expand and grow.
TWO: Attracting New Workers At the same time, new workers expect businesses to provide training with exciting, immersive technologies. To attract, train and retain talented workers, businesses need to match and exceed these expectations.
Additionally, technology is more complex to learn, maintain and service. New workers must have and grow skills for increasingly agile thinking—the ability to master complex technology with ease. At the same time, new workers need to be able to work with increasingly complex products and solutions. The challenge is to provide meaningful training, simplified solutions in a language and format that appeals to a new generation of workers.
THREE: Connecting Remote Workers Remote work is radically increasing. The advantages of flexibility, mobility and lifestyle appeal to today’s workforce. Organizations are supportive of mobile and remote work, as it offers workers personal flexibility while cutting costs. These include savings such as a reduced carbon footprint, reduced travel costs, and reduction in facilities costs.
Yet, with an increasingly distributed workforce, the biggest problem remains: disconnection.
People in every location still need personalized feedback, mentoring and training. In many industrial and manufacturing jobs, shoulder-to-shoulder instruction has been the go-to method for training. Without direct in-person guidance, people still need to learn the ropes. A new hire still needs to know who to talk to, how things work, and what steps to take to do their job well. They need to know where to get answers, how to manage work processes, how to address urgent situations and how to collaborate effectively across distances.
With these big issues in mind, let’s look at how to prepare your business for readiness. Let’s look at where AR can provide solutions.
Step 2: Identifying The Big Payoffs of AR
Augmented Reality captures existing knowledge from retiring experts, in ways that can be used immediately. Additionally, AR matches the demands and expectations of new workers. By linking subject matter experts with real-time tools to show-and-tell, remote workers are connected, as never before.
ONE: Retiring Workforce AR is a powerful way for experienced workers to pass on their knowledge to a new generation of workers. With immersive technology tools, subject matter experts can share what they have learned on-the-job. It’s a highly effective way to capture years of industry insight, product knowledge and hands-on organizational know how. With AR, experts are able to leverage their years of expertise, share stories, and show-and-tell. It’s a way to share and pass hands-on knowledge, before workers leave the workforce.
This engages retiring workers and is an exceptional way to leverage their insights.
Early adaptors in industrial manufacturing are using AR in ways such as this, to capture knowledge. This kind of sharing is a valuable form of visual feedback. The gains of exceptional ROI include:
95% time reduction to interpret work instructions 50% reduction in factory downtime 100% reduction in errors 25-75% time savings
With ROI gains such as these, it’s no surprise, AR is gaining such popularity.
TWO: Attracting New Workforce Augmented Reality is an immersive technology, already familiar to a new generation of workers. It’s commonly seen in games, media, and video. People are used to visual interaction, multiple layers of information and simultaneous displays of real-world environments and overlays.
AR is attractive to people because it is immersive, highly engaging, and extremely memorable. This is a technology that is built the way the brain works. The brain processes 80-90% of information visually—exactly the delivery method of AR. Neuroscience research confirms that the brain retains information delivered in AR.
In short, users love it. It is fun to use, extremely engaging and the content is easy to remember.
This is the exact opposite of slogging through a detailed user guide or word-only manual. AR offers a hands-on learning experience, where the translation from learning to doing is immediate. It lights up all the senses, activating the brain to see, hear and recall with ease.
Augmented reality provides immersive experiences that a new generation of workers is expecting and demanding. It transforms learning into a discovery by being exciting to use and highly rewarding.
This is an exceptional opportunity if your business is facing challenges of attracting and retaining new talent, has high turnover rates, struggles with non-stop training, or manages training surges of seasonal workers.
THREE: Connecting Remote Workforce
Mobile working, remote working means people are working virtually—right now. The technology to connect remote workers exists, but often is still underused. Most businesses and leaders would agree tools and habits have a ways to go. In other words, remote workers often feel that new tools are long overdue or “We needed it yesterday.”
The good news is Augmented Reality is ready right now. AR is easily delivered with today’s technology. Using a smartphone or tablet, users can give and receive feedback in AR—without delay. There is no need to wait for future technology advances.
If you’ve seen all the pictures of people wearing goggles, helmets and wearables—it might look intimidating. Yet, many of the images are showcasing virtual reality tools, not augmented reality. The good news is: Augmented reality feedback does not require any expensive hardware to be effective.
However, many industries want to offer AR feedback with a hands-free delivery. If this is something that your business is looking into, AR glasses are on the market and can be used immediately. As AR glasses become more popular and common place, industry experts predict prices will reduce and hands-free technology will improve.
In short, AR is a smart way to capture expert knowledge, pass on knowledge to a new generation of workers, and connect remote workers with today’s technology. It has tremendous power to also lower travel costs, reduce time lost from work and slash facilities costs.
Step 3: Communicate, Connect and Collaborate
AR is transforming feedback and training because it saves times and improves results. To prepare your business to gain impressive results, take the time to do this step and do it often. Get familiar with ways to communicate value, connect to users and contributors, and collaborate with your executive team.
Communicate Value Your peers, executive staff, users and contributors need and want to understand the value and benefits of new AR technology. As you talk with colleagues, look for frequently asked questions, areas of concern and fresh ideas. Every discussion and conversation can inspire new insights, simple solutions and ways to leverage existing materials into a new, exciting format.
Many people in your organization will have ideas from their experiences in gaming, video and social media. This can take your AR training to a whole new level. Every step of the way, you’re building buy-in for your AR solutions—now and going forward.
Connect with Users and Contributors Talk to end users. Discover their pains and problems as well as their wishes and desires. By understanding your user’s needs, you’re building in input of your target audience. Involving users from the beginning is a key ingredient for ultimate success. Your users are co-creating an AR solution that they want, use and refine.
Engage your expert contributors. Talking to subject matter experts, often people who are about to retire or have postponed retirement, can reveal a wealth of insights and knowledge. Contributors are well versed in the most frequent problems, mastering unusual and rare situations, and sharing personal experiences in the real-life snafus they have survived. By involving experts in the AR design, you’ll have a unique opportunity to leverage deep knowledge for years to come.
Collaborate with your Executive Team Starting with the end in mind, include your executive team in your early plans. Finding champions to support and fund the direction of AR technology is key to making your business ready for AR.
Speaking in the language of your executive team, look for ROI terms everyone understands. Focus on the benefits of AR training to save time and improve results. Share statistics and data about first time fixes, improved customer satisfaction, reduced training time, reduction in downtime, and reduction in travel costs. By highlighting quantifiable savings in money, time and workflow, you’ll open up new horizons with your executive team.
Step 4: Identify Small Opportunities for Big Wins
As you’re considering where, when and how to use AR to streamline feedback and training in your business, look for small steps to take. Small steps are often found in current internal processes, the ones that are problematic, time-consuming and costly. You know the drill. Look for small steps that will translate into big wins.
To help with thinking in AR, look over these possible opportunities.
Passing on knowledge with shoulder-to-shoulder feedback Tip: Look for opportunities to streamline learning, replace in-person guidance, or supplement existing expert mentoring. By simplifying the delivery with AR feedback, you’ll inspire rapid learning and hands-on application.
Give feedback to new hires, seasonal workers. Tip: Instead of struggling to train new hires and seasonal workers in person—look for the small steps that everyone struggles with. Plan an AR approach to show new users how to perform complex tasks with step-by-step augmented guidance. Reduce the pressure on in-person trainers and classroom delivery with just-in-time immersive experiences. Give new hires the training they need to succeed with first-time fixes.
Leverage expert knowledge to any location. Tip: Link subject matter experts with employees/customers in remote locations. Discover the most frequent problems, and engage experts to provide remote guidance to people at any location. This is a great way to help customers and employees, with one expert showing step- by-step how to maintain and repair complex equipment.
Connect remote workers with just-in-time feedback. Tip: Enable remote workers to respond effectively to challenges in remote locations. Use your initial AR program to handle the most common questions remote workers are asking. Once you’ve got this in place, you’ll discover the next layer of questions and challenges to tackle.
Anticipate and prepare for emergencies. Tip: Prepare your staff in remote locations to respond effectively for emergencies. Use AR to provide feedback and pre-work, training a new generation of workers to respond effectively in dangerous settings, without putting anyone in danger
While you may not take on each of these areas at once, take the time to identify the areas that are most critical. It helps to build a timeline, outlining the flow of AR development. Look for the smallest steps you can take, that will provide the biggest wins.
Step 5. Grow Your AR Knowledge with Success Cases
Sometimes, it’s easier to think of a future facing technology by learning from businesses who are already using it. While the industries may not be an exact match to your business, this way of thinking can help you identify key areas where your business could get ready—and gain a significant competitive advantage.
Coca Cola is using AR in manufacturing training to provide virtual guidance at multiple locations. The program has been called ‘a game changer’ and has cut travel costs, reduced downtime and improved productivity. They are also using AR to train remote and seasonal workers on maintenance and repair of equipment for cruise ships.
Boeing is using AR to deliver training in manufacturing sequences, achieving gains of 90% in productivity.
BAE systems, an electric hi-bred bus manufacturer reduced battery cell assembly time by 50% using AR step-by-step guidance.
Automotive GSI, an industrial manufacturer of complex equipment, reduced assembly time by 60%.
In industries such as manufacturing, automotive, servicing complex equipment in remote locations, businesses are seeing tremendous ROI. As you get familiar with use cases in your industry, you’ll quickly see opportunities to apply similar solutions to your business.
Step 6. Measure Results - Before and After
Building a case for quantifiable benefits is the best way to gain buy-in for AR in your organization. Curious where it starts? Measure the costs, time and problems of the current work processes. By understanding today’s costs, you’ll have a benchmark for comparison.
“Before you get building, measure your current state; produce metrics before the project so you can build an ROI case.” —Mark Sage, Executive Director, AR for Enterprise Alliance (AREA)
Measuring results is one of the key ingredients in building support for AR transformation in your business. You’ll be able to use quantifiable data to show how much money, time, and work is saved with AR training. This can turn your executive team into AR evangelists.
As AR is still in early stages in many industries and businesses, it helps to share your results often. Set short term milestones and communicate progress frequently to your stakeholders and executive team. Engage the strongest champions and look for opportunities to showcase measurable results, especially as they support organizational initiatives. This can help you make adjustments, build buy-in and spread the word about successes.
AR provides an unparalleled opportunity for giving real-time feedback. This has measurable payoff in learning and development, getting expert feedback and igniting creative collaboration.
Let’s Get Started
New technology offers promise and possibility. Yes, you may encounter some resistance to change. By following the steps in this Special Report, your AR program will support your business objectives. By building your AR feedback and training initiatives along these guidelines, you’ll pave the way to success.
Companies like yours are already moving forward with transforming their ability to leverage expert knowledge, attract new talent and connect remote workers. If your workforce is facing challenges such as retiring workers, lack of skilled workers, double-digit turnover, and complex technology in remote settings, now is the time to get started in AR.
Ready to Learn More?
If you’re interested in getting started with Augmented Reality for your business, please get in touch. We are here to help.