How Can You Use Immersive Learning For Sales And Manufacturing Training?
This article is part of a series that provides options for learning teams to quickly create immersive learning, including one that allows you to simultaneously practice using the software. What you are about to read is a fable. The company, AshCom, is fictional, but the learning challenges faced by Kathryn, AshCom’s CLO, and her team are real and commonly shared by learning teams in large organizations. It is our hope that you will be able to connect with the characters, their challenges, and the solutions they discover. We also invite you to read the first eBook in the series.
Kathryn’s TBR List
Kathryn’s office bookshelf was full. From Horton’s e-Learning by Design it Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen, she still referenced her broken-in copies occasionally. But a book discussing the creation of Augmented and Virtual Realities for learning sat on her desk. It was the next book on her to-read list.
Kathryn sat in her office thinking through her history with AshCom. When she started her role as the CLO several years ago, her work was mostly converting instructor-led learning into eLearning. The process was carefully planned out and manageable. Since then, many changes had happened, some driven by technological developments and some driven by the needs of AshCom and its learners.
Kathryn’s learning team was made up of talented people who were passionate about learning. Their work over the last two years was impressive. When AshCom acquired a competitor, they brought together two learning cultures by doing a thorough needs analysis that helped them build a curriculum map for all of their learning experiences.
Kathryn’s team worked on other challenging projects. They built a true game to teach managers financial literacy. They created an app to give the 340 sales team members information at their fingertips.
She recently faced one of her greatest challenges, proving the return on investment for AshCom’s entire learning program. She started with a single course and built a system using MindSpring’s Learning Scorecard. She could look at how each learning experience was performing on her learning dashboard. She could also predict the impact of proposed learning projects. The dashboard was available to the CFO, who could see the financial benefits of the learning team budget in real time.
Their Next Challenge: Immersive Learning
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) had been on her radar for several years. Kathryn knew this was no fad. She was not interested in new technology simply because it was new. She bases her decisions on the needs of the learners, the company, and the content.
As AshCom added employees to their 7,000-person team, she was watching demographics. New hires tend to be younger and already familiar with the AR/VR world. Games built on these platforms were common. Some of the new hires had experienced significant immersive learning in their education. The expectation was growing that AshCom would soon need to improve its learning offerings by making use of the technology.
Kathryn did not consider herself an early adapter of immersive technology, but she was curious and paid careful attention to the latest developments. She knew that the cost was coming down and that the time it took to create such experiences was getting shorter. Mixed reality was getting closer. She was familiar with the technology adoption lifecycle. Kathryn planned to be on the left side of the “Early Majority” group. That seemed like a safe choice. She sensed that the learning industry had moved out of the “Early Adopters” stage, which meant that Kathryn was getting more serious about proposing AshCom’s first immersive learning.
Some of the younger members of her learning team were encouraging Kathryn to try a project in Augmented or Virtual Reality. Their experiences with games convinced them it was the next logical step. They were also eager to add to the list of tools available to them for building learning.
Kathryn took the opinions of her team members seriously. She told them AR/VR was coming, but she made no commitment to a timeframe. She told them she needed to find the right opportunity. She knew that it would require additional budget, which would be challenging without a solid reason for the shift. She also knew that, despite her team’s passion for immersive technology, none of them had deep experience in creating learning using it.
Seizing The Opportunity
The right opportunity came as a complete surprise. Kathryn did not anticipate that the first request would come from Ronda, the Vice President of Sales at AshCom.
Ronda worked with Kathryn and her team to build the mobile app for the sales team. She was impressed with what Kathryn and her team were able to build. She was even more impressed with the results. The sales team quickly took to the app, using it not only for learning the AshCom sales system but also in demonstrating the manufacturing process and tools available in meetings with clients.
Ronda was something of a rock star at AshCom. Her degree was in mechanical engineering. The rumor was that she graduated with a straight 4.0 GPA, something Ronda was not willing to confirm or deny. Her first job was with a large medical manufacturer with a global footprint. In her first few years, her manager recognized Ronda’s innate sales skills. She moved to a position in pre-sales between the sales and the engineering teams because she could communicate with both. She was also comfortable in client meetings, something uncommon among engineers. After two years, she was managing her own sales team. A few years later, Ronda was made Vice President of Sales and was in charge of selling some of the finest medical devices related to cardiac care on the planet.
Ronda’s decision to take the VP of Sales position at AshCom was related to her desire to work for a smaller company closer to where she had been raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was a good fit, and Ronda had increased the sales of AshCom significantly.
Kathryn’s opportunity to enter the world of immersive learning came in the form of Ronda popping her head into Kathryn’s office one day and asking, “Got a minute?”
“I do,” said Kathryn. “Always good to see you.”
“I have something rolling around in my head,” said Ronda, “and I would love to hear your thoughts.”
“I’m all ears,” said Kathryn.
“This takes a little background,” said Ronda. “I’m not sure if you remember, but when I came to AshCom, I had been working for a global medical device manufacturer. I started as an engineer but made my way into sales.”
“Is the 4.0 GPA thing true?” asked Kathryn grinning.
“I will neither confirm nor deny,” said Ronda, returning the smile. “It’s weird so many people have asked about that. I can’t think of any reason why I would ever give an honest answer to that question.”
“I see your point,” said Kathryn. “Nothing to be gained and perhaps something to be lost.”
Deeper Into Medical Device Manufacturing
“Anyway,” replied Ronda, “one of my goals has been to get us deeper into medical device manufacturing. We’ve had some small successes in the past, but I really think we could be a much bigger player as a resource for companies that don’t want to build their own devices. I’ve been watching this market, and it has grown to over $100 billion with a compounded annual growth rate of 15%. Something like 60% of original equipment manufacturers of medical devices have, at some point, outsourced the manufacturing. There is an opportunity here for AshCom.”
“I can’t wait to hear how I can help with this,” said Kathryn.
“Before I get to that,” replied Ronda, “let me finish the background. Companies looking to outsource their manufacturing need companies that have excellent quality, stability, innovation, and a national footprint. We have these things. We are experts at building core components, assembling, and packaging what we make. We already have the government certifications we need to make medical devices. It fits with who we are, and the margins are higher than those of other products. My sales team is excited about the possibilities.”
“So, we are well-positioned to make medical devices,” said Kathryn. “Where does learning come into the picture?”
Rhonda laughed. “Do you need to get to another meeting?”
“No,” said Kathryn. “I am just struggling to see where you have a learning problem that I can help with.”
“Okay,” said Ronda. “Here it is. We are bidding on a significant project that involves making a surgical tool used in knee replacement surgeries. It helps the surgeons make more precise bone cuts using a guide that we would build. It is a complicated device, but the results are impressive. Patients recover faster and the overall results are better. Surgery is shorter, and scars are smaller. Someone will be manufacturing a lot of these devices, and I think it should be AshCom. Just for some sense of scale, there are about 800,000 knee replacement surgeries in the United States every year. That is expected to grow to over 3,000,000 in the next ten years. The global potential is tremendous.”
“I guess we aren’t getting any younger,” said Kathryn. “And you need us to build learning that educates the surgeons on how to use it?”
“Something like that,” said Ronda. “We have a lot of competition for this proposal. If we land this, we will be on the map as one of the best choices for other medical devices. This would have a long-term impact on AshCom, so we want to pull out all the stops to win this work. Our challenge is that our competition has deeper experience than we do in this area. We need an edge.”
“How can I help with that?” Kathryn asked.
Ronda responded, “I suspect all bids are going to be closed in terms of price and quality guarantees. The request for proposal specifically asked each bidder to be creative in other services that might be included in their bids. That led me to think about learning experiences.”
“I think my learning team would love to be involved in helping us win a big project,” said Kathryn.
“I thought they might,” said Ronda. “I’m looking for advice on what we could put in our bid that would get their attention. I have a couple of things in mind. The first is to build a learning experience based on this device that would help their salespeople demonstrate it to potential clients. I think the demo could also be used to help surgeons learn how to use this device. I have no idea what that would be, which is why I’m here.”
“We really haven’t been asked to do something like this before,” said Kathryn. “Our learning experiences are usually built for our internal team. I am assuming we will have access to subject matter experts if we win this?”
“Of course,” said Ronda. “For now, though, I’m asking you to be as creative as you can be and give me some options. We are looking for an edge in winning the bid, and I think this will be something other bidders won’t consider. It presents us as a stronger partner. If we win this, it will open us up to a lot of other opportunities.”
“I don’t have a lot of time here, do I?” Kathryn said.
“Is 15 days enough time?” Ronda asked.
“Actually, as long as we only need to come up with some concepts, we can get that done,” said Kathryn.
“Wonderful,” said Ronda, standing up. “Let’s stay in close communication on this. The opportunity is significant.”
“I will dedicate some time to it this afternoon,” said Kathryn as she also stood. “We will do our best.”
As Ronda left her office, Kathryn sat back down in her chair and leaned back. All sorts of opportunities were rolling through her mind. She needed to attend the meetings on her calendar, but she cleared the last two hours of the day to do some research and think about the best solution.
Download the eBook Your Immersive Learning Launchpad: The Ultimate Guide To Launching XR Learning to discover how you can implement XR in your organization to make the most of modern tech and minimize on-the-job mistakes.
Dear Reader, if you’re excited to learn more about how you can integrate immersive experiences into your learning strategy, schedule a demo with a MindSpring Learning Expert. We’ll answer any questions you have and show you how we’ve successfully implemented immersion into learning.