Oleg Fonarov is the founder and CEO of Program-Ace, a software engineering and digital transformation company.
Just half a century ago, people dreamed of a future where everything was automated and our every whim was satisfied by robots. Perhaps we don’t have robots everywhere now, but we do have a stunning rise of companies embracing automation through software. A recent McKinsey Global Survey found that 31% of businesses are already using automation, and another 35% are piloting this approach.
Obviously, automation has many different forms, but I want to bring attention to one commonly overlooked aspect: employee training. I find that some businesses are hesitant to implement training simulation software because they think it will detract from the acquisition of communication or physical skills, but the exact opposite is more likely to happen.
Employee training is an area we offer services and expertise on at Program-Ace, so in this article, I’ll discuss the basics of training through simulation software.
What Is Simulation Training?
Simulation training is a form of education through an application that mimics work-related situations and imparts knowledge and skills as the user progresses. In other words, it only involves one person, a piece of software and the hardware that they run the application on. These simulations can be classified by their level of immersion:
Desktop And Web Experiences (Level 1): The worker just looks at a computer/device screen, where the simulation is visualized. They interact with the simulation through a mouse, keyboard or touchpad.
Augmented And Mixed Reality (Level 2): Augmented reality (AR) makes use of phone cameras/smart glasses, and users see the world around them with digital elements added in. Mixed reality is similar in combining the real and digital world, but the visuals are presented through a HoloLens headset and digital elements are more dominant.
Full Simulation In VR (Level 3): Users wear virtual reality (VR) headsets that take up their full field of view and places them in a fully digital world, where they interact with the simulation through controllers and head movements.
The Right Reasons To Implement Simulation Training
As companies consider their need to integrate virtual training programs, many are looking to achieve the following:
Better Time Management: Distractions are the bane of learning, and they are ever-present when someone is learning in a classroom or other environment with many things to look at. Software can be designed without distracting features and keeps a user’s focus on the training program.
Easy Logistics: Training software can be run in practically any location as long as you have the right hardware, software and power source. It can also be accessed at any time, especially if the application gives all the necessary knowledge and skills. This makes training accessible for employees on varying schedules or with limited availability.
High Employee Engagement: Many people associate simulation with games and entertainment, which can be a benefit for employees who are more likely to stay engaged and interested in this style of training. Furthermore, these apps can effectively blend theory and practice, keeping the process flowing more dynamically than traditional training.
Low Safety Risk: A simulated environment is a safe place to do dangerous things. In other words, employees can virtually perform tasks that carry risks to health and safety with no real repercussions in case of failure, offering a safer setting to learn in.
No Interpersonal Conflicts: Trainers’ and students’ personalities do not always align, and this can impact the quality of education received. Learning from a software program, however, is neutral and unlikely to cause any sort of conflict, so employees can stay focused on their training.
Popular Features In Simulation Training
If you are considering the implementation of such a solution in your business, here are a few features that might inspire your planning of the app’s functionality:
Virtual Trainer: A virtual trainer is a 3D character that provides instructions, guidance and sometimes even demonstrates how things are done in the program. Sometimes, it is just a disembodied voice.
Gesture-Controlled Interactions: An engaging training simulation will not just ask the trainee to sit and listen, but will instead give them tasks and interactions to complete with the help of their movements. VR input devices (like handheld controllers or wired gloves) offer the most flexibility and realism.
Unique Scenarios: You can add a near-endless amount of unique situations for the user to go through. These scenarios might include both ordinary events that happen on a daily basis and urgent situations that require a creative approach.
Marker-Based Tracking: Mostly used in AR apps, the software can scan what the user’s camera is pointed at and recognize objects or characteristics, which then trigger new information or visuals to be displayed.
Location-Based Content: Another staple of AR apps, the software accesses the user’s device GPS and provides tailored content based on the location. For example, they might get one lesson in a manufacturing hall and an entirely different one when they go up a floor into another division.
Video Feed: A video/audio feed can be added into learning for supervision, commentary and cooperation provided by another specialist at the company.
It would be a stretch to say that simulation training should be the primary tool of education in all industries and positions, especially those that involve heavy manual work. However, it doesn’t always need to replace and can simply add to existing learning programs.
Many companies struggle with developing these solutions simply because software development is not their specialty and they don’t have coders. When looking for a reliable partner, your potential partner should be able to provide the talent and expertise you need and give you an estimate before you ever invest in the project.
When designed and implemented properly, a simulated approach to training might just be the deciding factor that takes your business processes to a new level of professionalism.