“We started the rollout to all of the Walmart retail environments at the end of 2019 and so far so good,” says STRIVR CEO Derek Belch. “We’ve had almost a million Associates go through different training modules. Doug McMillon actually in their earnings report a month ago did reference employee training as being one of the reasons that their earnings are what they are. So it’s definitely something that we’re seeing have a very positive effect as it relates to placing employees in these simulation-based learning environments that virtual reality affords.”
Derek Belch, founder and CEO of STRIVR, discusses the success that enterprise companies such as Walmart, Verizon, and BMW are having with their virtual reality employee training technology in an interview on CNBC:
Walmart VR Training Positively Impacting Earnings
We started the rollout to all of the Walmart retail environments at the end of 2019 and so far so good. We’ve had almost a million Associates go through different training modules. Doug McMillon actually in their earnings report a month ago did reference employee training as being one of the reasons that their earnings are what they are. So it’s definitely something that we’re seeing have a very positive effect as it relates to placing employees in these simulation-based learning environments that virtual reality affords. It’s been really cool.
We have about 30 customers in the Fortune 500 right now. It’s definitely crossing the chasm. We’re still on our way up here in the early adopters’ phase but we’re seeing this catch on. There’s definitely product-market fit for immersive learning as we call it. This is the real deal. This is very similar to pilots in a flight simulator. Historically, we’ve trained employees or we’ve assessed employees via PowerPoint’s, videos, and lectures. Candidly, we don’t know if people are half asleep or if they’re actually engaged.
Now with virtual reality, we’re able to put people through simulation-based learning, simulation-based training, simulation-based assessment, and it’s catching on. I think by this time next year if you’re not doing something (with VR training) you’re behind in the Fortune 500. We’re seeing that this is the real deal.
VR Technology Finding Its Legs As a Useful Tool In the Enterprise
At this point, we’ve talked to everybody. There isn’t a company in the Fortune 500 that we have not talked to in some way, shape, or form. We are not working with Amazon currently. We have talked to them on and off and we’ll see where that goes. To be honest, I’m not really worried about anyone doing this themselves. This is still the very early days of virtual reality. We work very closely with Oculus, which is owned by Facebook, they’re a great partner of ours.
We take a lot of pride at STRIVR and what we call the end-to-end solution which is basically, hey, in the early days while you’re an early adopter and the technology is certainly viable and ready it’s also really difficult to scale. So we do a lot of heavy lifting for our partners, Walmart being one of them along with Verizon and BMW. We just do a lot of work for them up front while the technology is finding its legs to get to the point where computers, iPads, and cell phones are right now as a useful tool in the enterprise. I’m not worried about anybody in the next 18 months or so doing this on their own but certainly, we’ll see as the ecosystem evolves where it goes from there.
As it relates to the viability of using this as a predictive tool, this is how the Walmart use case came about with using this for assessments. Were actually patent pending right now on what we call an engagement algorithm to see how engaged somebody is during a simulation. We tell our partners all the things we’re working on behind the scenes and Walmart said they wanted to test that out to see if this would be a good use case for them.
We Take Pride That Our VR Experiences Won’t Lead To Nausea
This (disorientation) is an issue for sure. That question always comes up in every demo. “Hey, am I going to get sick? Oh, I’m good, I don’t need to put it on. I got sick last time.” This is all about how the brain works and your equilibrium. If you’re sitting or you’re standing and you put on a headset and now you’re on a rollercoaster or you’re running through an active shooter game or something like that, yeah you’re going to get nauseous because your body is static but your brain thinks that it’s doing something else.
We take a lot of pride in making sure that the experiences we build along with some of the subtle things we do in the software aren’t going to lead to nausea.