Will Virtual Reality enable a truly global economy?

Listening to the latest episode of the From Scratch podcast, my friends Nigel Paine and Martin Couzins were discussing the new report from Maisie VRLearn report, focussing on current uses of Virtual Reality (VR) in learning. What struck me whilst listening to the examples Martin and Nigel shared were the opportunities of social mobility and opening of a global market for skills and capability in a VR enabled world.

Given the current political landscape, with many countries taking an isolationist stance in international relations, its an interesting juxtaposition. If larger companies can use a VR enabled recruitment process to attract the best talent from an international pool of resource, it opens access and opportunity for individuals to access a global employment market.

Currently, widespread use of Virtual Reality for recruitment, virtual team working and education may be limited to the larger organisations and providers. But in comparison to the operational costs to provide these services or support global working on a global scale, the savings make the development investment worthwhile. Connectivity and accessibility to appropriate hardware have a way to go to truly make this a global playing field, but it could indicate a direction of travel. There is certainly still huge disparity in access to good quality data networks.

However, organisations such as Learn Appeal are rolling out devices to bring connectivity to once remote communities and mobile data networks continue to drive an increase in global internet use (sources such as the 2015 Internet Usage report from the World Bank and the International Telecommunications Union report make interesting reading). It could be that we see technologies such as VR and better support for virtual working actually driving further investment into connectivity as companies fight for the best global talent.

As the report is grounded in current uses of the technology, it also helps to bring Virtual Reality into the general narrative rather than a new or emergent approach. So it helps Learning and Development, Organisational Design and Business Process Improvement and many other business units have sensible and grounded conversations on enabling technology and its impact on the business. There are economies of scale that are pulling many technologies that may have felt out of reach onto the solutions menu.

It highlights yet again the importance of learning professionals embarking on true business engagement, analysis of key business processes, associated costs and current performance measures. VR will not answer all performance issues but an informed, agnostic approach which enables true business analysis supports the future of the professional and ultimately the success of the organisations we support.