AI, VR, AR, and You

Apr 2 / Hannelie Pretorius
Let's face it – for many, the mere mention of big data and AI conjures images of complexity and alienation. But what if we reframed the narrative? What if we showed that behind the algorithms and data points lie opportunities for personalisation and empowerment? 

Data-driven insights pave the way for tailored experiences that resonate with each individual in their employee journey. It's not about tech for the sake of tech; it's about leveraging innovation to enhance the human experience. It’s about having that curated content feel from Netflix for your LXP. 

Let's simplify some tech jargon for those who might be unfamiliar: 

AI - Artificial Intelligence, which involves tech performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. 
  • Virtual Assistants: Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant respond to voice commands using AI 
  • Recommendation systems: Netflix and Amazon use AI to suggest personalised content 
  • Chatbots: AI-driven bots provide customer support and assistance and are even being effectively utilised to complement coaching 
  • Autonomous vehicles: AI enables self-driving cars to navigate safely 
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): AI understands and generates human language 
  • Image recognition: AI identifies objects and faces in images 
  • Fraud detection: AI spots anomalies in financial transactions to prevent fraud 

VR - Virtual Reality, where users wear special goggles to enter and experience immersive, simulated environments. 
  • Gaming: immersive gaming experiences with VR headsets like "Beat Saber" and "Half-Life: Alyx." 
  • Training: simulated environments for training in fields like healthcare and aviation 
  • Education: virtual field trips and interactive learning experiences for students 
  • Tourism: virtual tours of destinations and landmarks 
  • Therapy: VR-based therapy for overcoming phobias and rehabilitation 
  • Entertainment: virtual concerts and interactive storytelling 
  • Design: visualisation of architectural and design concepts in 3D 

AR - Augmented Reality, overlay digital elements onto the real world through a device's camera. 
  • Social media: Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok filters that add virtual effects to users' faces 
  • Gaming: Pokémon GO, where virtual characters appear in the real world via smartphone cameras 
  • Navigation: Google Maps' Live View overlays directions onto the real world through a smartphone camera 
  • Retail: IKEA Place allows users to see how furniture looks in their home via AR 
  • Education: AR enhances learning with interactive 3D models overlaid onto textbooks or real objects 
  • Medical training: AR simulations help medical students practice procedures with virtual overlays 
  • Industrial maintenance: technicians use AR to view instructions overlaid onto machinery, aiding in repairs and maintenance 

From processes to people 

Gone are the days of HR as a bureaucratic juggernaut. Today, it's about redesigning the wheel – or, in this case, the workplace. With integrated tech stacks, the focus shifts from paperwork to people, from processes to purpose. 
The effective use of AI in business is as a complementary tool rather than a replacement for human workers. While AI can streamline operations, it lacks human qualities like creativity and empathy, making it best suited for repetitive tasks, error detection, 24/7 support, data analysis and entry-level tasks. 
Cutting down on boring tasks 

AI can handle repetitive HR jobs like paperwork, timekeeping, and leave management, freeing up HR teams to focus on more important work like an EXceptional EX and creating cross functional teams (wink-wink, nudge-nudge). 

Always-on support 

Chatbots powered by AI can help employees with common HR questions and issues, no matter the time of day. 

Understanding employee feelings 

AI can quickly go through feedback from surveys and social media, giving HR a good idea of how employees are feeling and what needs to change. You can also use a chatbot to round up all the support resources for mental health available to your team. This way, anyone struggling with mental health struggles at work can get help, even if they don't want to talk to someone about it just yet. 

Personal learning paths 

Think of AI as your personal learning coach and AR as your interactive training buddy. AI analyses your performance, interests, and goals to suggest tailored training courses and resources. AR brings learning to life by immersing you in realistic scenarios where you can practise and apply your skills. Together, they help you grow and succeed in your role, making learning more engaging and effective. 

Faster hiring 

AI can speed up the hiring process by sorting through CVs and arranging interviews, making recruitment more efficient. 

Looking after well-being 

AI, VR, and AR collaborate to support staff well-being. AI suggests personalised tips for managing stress and work-life balance. VR offers immersive relaxation experiences, like virtual getaways, while AR provides real-time reminders for healthy habits, like taking breaks or deep breathing. 

The convergence of data and experience 

Enter the brave new world of big data, AI, and immersive technologies. From AI-powered recruitment to VR-powered training, the possibilities are endless – and so are the risks. 

Here's the reality check: while technology can streamline processes, it can't replace the human touch. As we embrace the power of data, let's not forget the importance of empathy and connection. After all, it's the human element that makes workplaces thrive. 

Designing Digitally, a training company that creates online courses and games for learning, talked about using VR in corporate training. They talked about the good and bad sides of using VR.  
Its applications in corporate education, including new hire training and product training, have led Goldman Sachs to predict a $0.7 billion market by 2025. While initially used by the military, VR's accessibility has expanded its use across sectors, driving behavioural changes effectively. 

Advantages of VR training include cost-effectiveness, accessibility, and effectiveness in hazardous industries. Learners can access simulations online, reducing travel costs and eliminating the need for instructors. VR enables immersive experiences, simplifies complex topics, and boosts engagement, allowing for practical application in the workplace. 
VR is also changing how we approach soft skills training. Employees can now practice communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution in immersive virtual scenarios. Whether delivering presentations or navigating office dynamics, VR provides a dynamic platform for honing essential interpersonal skills, empowering individuals to thrive professionally. Take a look at this link for a practical example. 

However, VR poses challenges such as physical side effects like headaches and nausea, potential social implications from risk-free experiences, and technological flaws affecting user experience. 

Social implications from risk-free experiences 

  • Reduced resilience and coping skills 
  • Cultivation of entitlement and unrealistic expectations 
  • Stagnation of innovation due to aversion to risk 
  • Loss of valuable learning opportunities from failure 

Technological flaws affecting user experience 

  • Poor usability leading to frustration 
  • Performance issues such as slow loading times or crashes 
  • Security concerns undermining user trust 
  • Compatibility challenges hindering access across platforms 
  • Addressing these issues necessitates a balanced approach that encourages calculated risk-taking for growth and innovation, while prioritising user-centric design and robust technological solutions. 

Considering the pros and cons is crucial before investing in VR training. While its advantages may outweigh the disadvantages, ensuring an engaging experience is key to meeting learner expectations.  

Who would've guessed we'd be strapping on these fancy goggles for the daily grind? It's like stepping into a sci-fi movie just to clock in! VR goggles have made quite the career leap. Who needs a boring old office when you can dive into a virtual wonderland for meetings, training, and maybe even a bit of virtual water cooler chat? It's a brave new world out there. 

Separating fact from fiction 

Let's talk about the belief that technology can solve everything. Spoiler alert – it can't. While tech can enhance the employee experience, it's not a silver bullet. It's the combination of technology and human insight that drives change. 

And here's another myth to debunk, the idea that tech transformation is reserved for the elite few. In reality, it's about mindset, not money. It's about embracing a culture of innovation, where everyone has a seat at the table. Speaking of seats, the notion of assigned cubicles and offices has faded into obscurity. With the workforce embracing flexibility, including hot desks and hybrid or remote work options, the traditional concept of designated seats at the table has evolved.  
Offices were once the epicentre of operations, especially in terms of technology, where everything revolved around physical presence. Employees were bound to desks near company servers, and leaders felt tethered to on-site meetings.  
Despite the growing popularity of remote work before the pandemic, companies hesitated to adapt their infrastructure. However, the landscape is rapidly changing, with projections according to an article by Sabrina Dorronsoro “What Is a Workplace Tech Stack? And Why Do You Need One?” indicating that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will work remotely, marking an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels. Leaders are recognising this shift, as showed by a PwC survey where 78% of CEOs acknowledged remote collaboration as a permanent fixture. To foster a successful hybrid workplace, companies must assemble a suite of tools enabling seamless communication, collaboration, and productivity—the essence of a workplace tech stack. 

 Creating a good workplace tech stack is super important for businesses today, especially with more people working remotely or in hybrid setups. From tools for chatting online to software for booking office spaces, having the right tech can make a big difference.  
What started as quick fixes during the pandemic has become long-term solutions for companies dealing with a more mobile workforce. These tech stacks, which are basically a bunch of tools working together, help teams collaborate better and get stuff done, whether they're in the office or not. Led by teams in charge of workplace experiences, companies are investing in tools and processes to support this new way of working.  
To make it work smoothly, leaders need to pick tools that fit their team's needs and make sure everyone can use them easily. These tools cover things like working together on projects (like Asana, or Trello), managing office spaces (like Robin), staying connected (with Slack or Microsoft Teams), and sharing files (using Google Drive or SharePoint). By using data about how offices are used and what equipment people prefer, businesses can make smarter decisions about their workspaces and keep everyone happy and productive.  
Building a good workplace tech stack means doing a tech audit, talking to your teams about what they need, checking how new tools fit with what you already have, reviewing how well they work, and making changes as needed. As we move forward with hybrid work, there's a big opportunity for companies to make the workplace more flexible and supportive of everyone's needs. 

A future of possibilities 

So, where do we go from here? It starts with education – not the boring kind, but the kind that inspires and empowers. It's about equipping HR and L&D executives with the tools they need to thrive in the digital era. 
AI-powered Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) offer a multitude of benefits across various aspects of workplace learning and development. 

One significant advantage is highlighted in the article authored by Sammir Inamdar on November 10, 2023, the significance of AI-powered Learning Experience Platforms lies in the simplification of managing job descriptions, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and competency skillsets. By simply inputting the role, users can swiftly generate tailored job descriptions, streamlining the recruitment process. Moreover, these platforms facilitate just-in-time (JIT) learning, empowering employees to access curated learning materials precisely when they encounter unfamiliar tasks, thereby enhancing productivity and problem-solving capabilities. 

Another notable feature is the ability to personalise assessments based on individual learners' skill levels. This not only ensures accuracy but also facilitates more effective learning outcomes.  

Creating new eLearning courses is also made effortless with AI LXPs, thanks to user-friendly templates that allow for quick customisation and publishing of content. This enables organisations to adapt to evolving training needs promptly and efficiently. 


How the Netflix vibe is shaping LXPs 

Imagine scrolling through your favourite streaming platform, captivated by a curated selection of content tailored precisely to your interests and preferences. Now, envision bringing that same immersive experience to your Learning Experience Platform (LXP) and Learning Management System (LMS).  
It's all about personalisation. It's about getting what each learner needs, and delivering content that feels just right. 

A new employee, starting their journey with a selection of modules that fits their role, team, and what they want to learn. Or an existing employee wanting to level up, finding courses and resources that match where they want to go. 
To implement an LXP successfully, meticulous planning and execution are necessary. Here are some key best practices to guide you through the process: 

  • Clearly define objectives: articulate your organisation’s learning goals and ensure they align with the LXP implementation strategy. 
  • Involve stakeholders: engage stakeholders from different departments, such as Learning and Development, IT, and HR, to ensure alignment and collaboration throughout the implementation. 
  • Customise and configure: tailor the LXP to fit your organisation’s specific needs, including branding, user roles, permissions, and integration with existing systems. 
  • Curate content: source and curate high-quality learning content from internal and external sources to cater to diverse learning preferences and requirements. 
  • Communication and change management: develop a comprehensive communication plan to inform and involve employees about the LXP implementation. Provide adequate training and support to help users navigate and utilise the platform effectively. 
  • Monitor and evaluate: continuously track learner engagement, gather feedback, and analyse metrics to assess the LXP’s effectiveness. Utilise data-driven insights to make necessary improvements. 

AI holds immense potential to simplify the implementation of LXPs by automating various tasks and providing intelligent insights. Through personalised learning paths, AI algorithms can analyse employee data to suggest tailored content, ensuring relevance and engagement. Content curation becomes more efficient with AI-powered tools sorting through vast resources to identify high-quality materials aligned with organisational goals. Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology enhances user experience by enabling chatbots and virtual assistants to provide timely support. Predictive analytics offer valuable foresight into learning trends and skill requirements, facilitating proactive decision-making. Automated feedback analysis allows for real-time evaluation, while adaptive learning systems dynamically adjust content based on individual progress.  
By harnessing AI capabilities, organisations can streamline LXP implementation, enrich the learning experience, and achieve better outcomes. When navigating the world of AI, it's crucial to equip people with the skills to do it safely. But with new advancements popping up faster than memes, how much training is enough, and when's the perfect moment to kickstart it? 

Learning is in its new era (Yes, we like Taylor Swift) 

The days of endlessly researching beyond Google's first page are behind us as we enter the age of knowledge. Thanks to AI chatbots and efficient workflows, we no longer need to spend hours digging for information. How can we empower our people to thrive in the knowledge era? Train them. 

When training employees on safely using AI, VR, and AR, it's crucial to cover a few key points. Firstly, they need to understand the potential risks involved, like privacy issues and security threats. They should also learn how to protect sensitive data and recognise any biases in AI algorithms to ensure fairness. 

As for timing, it's best to include this training during employee onboarding and provide updates regularly. That way, everyone stays informed about the latest safety measures and developments in these technologies. Overall, keeping employees trained on the safe use of AI, VR, and AR should be an ongoing part of their learning journey. 

It's like having a superpower—how you use it decides if it helps or harms 

Technology gives people a superpower, capable of either uplifting or causing harm, depending on how we use it. AI, VR, and AR are our trusty sidekicks, helping to enhance the employee experience in remarkable ways. But, just like any superhero, we must use our powers responsibly. We need to ensure fairness, privacy, and mental well-being as we embrace these technologies.