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Revolutionize Your HR Training with VR Immersive Training

Bryce Luken

Bryce Luken

Chief Operating Officer at Moth+Flame

Bryce Luken, Moth + Flame

In-person training is standard fare for most organizations, but it is less engaging and can incur higher budgeting costs than Virtual Reality (VR) immersive training.

Quartz Network Executive Correspondent Britt Erler sat down with Bryce Luken, Chief Operating Officer of Moth+Flame, to discuss how VR immersive training aids the future of work in HR.

Bryce shares insight into:

  • The current state of VR
  • Why immersive training is more effective and efficient than other methods
  • How VR training can help HR departments

Quartz Network: Can you please share a bit about your background and your current role with Moth+Flame?

Bryce Luken: I’m the Chief Operating Officer of Moth+Flame and I’ve been here for a little over 2 years. My background is in venture-backed startups and high tech, as well as a stint in the military. My career has been a merger of leadership and development, paired with technology. The last decade has been focused on selling software technologies in large enterprises. We’re able to leverage technology to make people better humans, and help people perform at a level that they really couldn’t before. It’s an exciting piece of technology, and I’m really excited to talk about it today.

Quartz Network: Why do you think VR growth in the enterprise is accelerating so quickly?

Bryce Luken: A lot of the VR pilot programs kicked off circa 2018. Those programs have been going through the wringer and the data is coming out. Now, you’re able to make an argument around ROI, and have actual data to back and make a data-driven decision when implementing VR. With any technology, we all understand the hype cycles, but now we’re really seeing the proof point.

We have a customer with an eight-figure training budget that they were able to cut by 10X by implementing VR. It’s very helpful in an HR to be able to sell that to the FP&A, the finance order, or your CFO. It sometimes can be a difficult argument. In some of the soft skills areas that we’ve been doing, we’re also just seeing improvement in the human performance side, where it’s improvements in confidence or how they approach a difficult conversation.

The data that we’re seeing on the immersive side is really interesting in terms of the confidence and the people and your end users wanting to use the tech because a big piece of using immersive technology is actually the desire of the end user wanting to use it. That’s new versus the computer-based training (CBT), where I’m checking email and doing something on the side.

Timing has been interesting with also remote work. With COVID hitting, we did see a spike in demand and interest that, “Hey, we actually have to figure out a technological solution here to get training across and how do we do this if I can no longer bring people into a room together and learn from that instructor?” That really started to push the technology, the adoption, and people solving the hard issue of bringing in a frontier technology into an organization and executing and implementing.

Quartz Network: For these companies that are looking to do something similar, what is it about immersive training that makes it more effective and efficient than other methods?

Bryce Luken: I’ll start with effective first, because if you look at the traditional training, I think 80 to 90% of the market is still done in person. Most people agree that in-person training – one-on-one, instructor led, learn from the pro, learn from the best – is still the primary way of training. The other was CBTs, and that’s where you see a lot of the offloading of the training that needs to be done on an annual basis. Maybe that has high impact, but it’s more compliance related.

That was the spectrum. Virtual reality, in terms of effectiveness, sits there in the middle where it’s the best of both worlds. It has the scalability of a CBT because it is software, but we can scale your greatest brick and mortar assets. The best trainer that you have, we can put them in the headset and in front of every single employee that needs to be present and interact with them.

The fact now is that with the technology – for example, we use natural language processing in our tech – you can actually have a conversation. What that’s doing to the mind is people don’t say, “I went to the training, or I did, or I saw the training.” They’re saying, “I did it,” because they’re speaking the words. They’re doing the things.

In hard skills, we have haptics. People are moving and doing the actual activity, the training that needs to be performed. That’s really where it’s been able to prove itself on scalability and having greater effectiveness than a real in-person trainer.

In terms of the efficiency, that piece is where you can see the 10X return that one customer had. We don’t have to travel people and we can have now a higher volume of individuals go through this training than before because of brick-and-mortar type of constraints. When you peel back the onion and really look at, not the technologies you’re using, but just how you execute your training programs, there’s real opportunities to leverage VR to create those types of efficiencies.

Quartz Network: Can you talk us through what it looks like when you start working with a company?

Bryce Luken: It’s sitting down and really identifying that first use case, and what are major priorities and goals of their organization, and even looking up into the C suite. What are some organizational goals that we could really try to deliver on to get that win with a pilot program? With it being something new, usually you have to prove yourself to the board.

We start with that goal setting, not talking about the features and all the benefit. Start with the goals and then we really work with the orgs to ensure that we have that solution designed around them in a way that they can be successful.

Whether that goal is reduce cost, okay, let’s peel back the onion there. Are you flying employees around? Are you bringing in trainers? Is there some constraint here in bandwidth or throughput? How can we look at that? Or is it some positive result. DNI training, is a great example. It’s a newer thing in orgs, and here’s an opportunity to create a great, immersive experience to give somebody a training that’s cutting edge on a very important topic.

That’s how we come in and analyze and how that engagement looks. Once you’ve identified that, looking at the curriculum, it’s just a translation process of pulling it into virtual reality.

Again, we do that from hard skills, literally. We work with fighter pilots and fighter jets for hard skills, all the way to the soft skills with suicide prevention and sexual assault prevention and DNI. We can work in whether it’s bylaws or procedures or whatever it is. You can build that in that curriculum and ensure that you get the outcomes and the learnings that you want.

Quartz Network: Are there any obstacles or key takeaways that you think executives or HR departments should best prepare for when implementing this type of program?

Bryce Luken: The best practice goes back to asking, “Where do you create the big winning goal?” It’s making something exciting that the employees care about. When you put them on that headset for the first time, they’re going to say, “Okay, here we go, here’s my new thing.”

If you can create that wow moment, like, “Wow, this is a complete upgrade from anything I’ve done and I’ve never experienced anything like this before.” That really helps with that adoption and excitement, and really that buy in of folks wanting to do it. That’s been a big piece.

The second is, don’t be fearful of the logistics of hardware. I always think it’s interesting, because folks are like, “Okay, it’s like the laptop, and how do we figure out getting everybody dispersed hardware?” There’s solutions to this. It is kind of the 1980s, 1990s era of the PC coming into corporate America.

We have customers that have 25 headsets on premise, that are now getting over 1000 users in just a few months through those headsets. Extreme leverage, right? Sometimes, you have to call up your operation research folks in the company to come up with the ops model.

We team with the company to figure that out, to create that leverage, and we can take bite sized chunks here. Let’s do a site, let’s get a few headsets in there, and figure out that ops model, where we are getting all that great feedback from the employees that rationalizes and justifies the program and what we’re doing. Those are going to make it exciting. Don’t fear the logistics model.

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