Betting on the Future with Virtual Reality

By Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst, Talent Management and Workforce Management

This week I attended Convergence, Cornerstone’s annual user conference. As someone who attends many events of this type, one of my favorite activities is to wander through the partner and vendor expo hall sections to see what new companies are out there and get a feel for all of the ways different technology providers are working with each other (also, lots of great swag). Usually this is a good time to get a sense for what’s truly going to be the next trends, since spending money to promote a product usually means a lot more than making vague statements about what the future might hold.

In this particular instance, I came across a company I knew from outside of a business context but had never seen with a physical display at one of these conferences: Oculus.

I know Oculus from their VR gaming hardware, the Oculus Rift. Considered one of the premier VR providers, it makes sense they would expand beyond gaming, into the business world, though it was still surprising to see the technology in person so soon.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised, though. The fact that Oculus was in San Diego for Cornerstone Convergence makes sense, as Cornerstone prides themselves on having an extremely robust ecosystem of partners and connected applications to help drive its end-to-end employee experience. And as part of the Brandon Hall Awards program, we see a lot of cutting-edge technology and use cases, including some early adoption of virtual and augmented reality. As far back as 2016, an Indian company called Sify had developed VR apps to help engineers diagnose and train on turbine engines that would have been too expensive to provide everyone unlimited access to, along with features only available in VR such as viewing things at a micro or macro scale. I had previously written about a major hotel chain that uses VR technology to help incoming executive understand the pressures and difficulties of housekeeping duties, and many other companies are making use of VR to improve empathy by simulating experiences that could only happen in VR.

So virtual reality technology and its use isn’t new. But when I mention these examples in presentations or in passing conversations, the follow-up response would inevitably be something along the lines of, “Yeah, but that would never fly at my company.” And honestly, I figured that was probably true. Virtual reality, like AI, Big Data and blockchain technologies, seemed like one of those things that got a lot more lip service than customer service: it looked good on a brochure, but the amount of actual creation and use were very slim. However, if a company like Oculus is jumping in dollars first (the demo I checked out was on anti-bias training, a topic with wide-ranging interest) then it might be time to revisit the timeline on VR, because the future may be here faster than we expected.

Cliff Stevenson, (Twitter: @CliffordDarrell email: [email protected]) Principal Analyst, Talent Management and Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group

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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.