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01 August 2022

One of the Largest Financial Institutions Shifts to VR for Enterprise Solutions


By Bobby Carlton

When it comes to using XR for Enterprise solutions, we can transform a warehouse or a workflow process into a digital twin that helps companies work more efficiently and creates a safer work environment by improving hard skills and letting organizations explore better paths to success.

However, XR can also be used in Enterprise to help employees with soft skills

One of the largest financial institutions in the globe, Bank of America, uses VR for soft skill training for employees in almost 4,300 financial centers in North America. This equates to roughly 50,000 employees jumping into VR to practice a number of routine and complex tasks, as well as a number of client interactions that a bank employee would encounter on a daily basis.

The program, which was created specifically for Bank of America’s award-winning onboarding, training and development, is part of the company’s commitment to provide the most cutting-edge professional development tools to their employees to ensure they are successful in their roles. 

VR training officially rolled out this year with employees being able to access 20 different VR simulations for soft skills training such as strengthening relationships with clients, navigating conversations, and listening and responding to empathy.

Image from Bank of America

In a Newsroom post on the Bank of America website, John Jordon, Head of The Academy at Bank of America said, “At Bank of America, our commitment to being a great place to work for our teammates fuels our focus on innovation,” adding, “VR is highly effective at helping teammates build and retain new skills and it is one of many ways we are using technology to support internal mobility and provide best-in-class learning opportunities.”

Through the power of VR, Bank of America learning leaders will have access to real-time analytics that come through VR training. Branch managers will be able to identify if an employee might have a skill gap, take that information and then provide personalized feedback to the employee and teammates to help improve their performance as individuals and as a team.

The company launched a successful pilot program with 400 employees with incredible results.

  • 97% of the participants felt much more at ease performing their tasks after completing their VR training. 
  • Better retention of information.
  • 4x’s faster than classroom training on average.
  • 4x’s more focused than an e-learning module.
  • 3.75x’s more emotionally connected to the content than classroom learners.

“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do,” said Hari Gopalkrishnan, Head of Retail, Preferred, Small Business and Wealth Management Technology at Bank of America. “We are focused on creating and implementing technologies that offer advanced solutions. With VR, we’re rolling out a proven learning tool that will empower teammates with the skills they need to better serve clients and help make financial lives better.”

In an article published by the Academy of International Extended Reality (AIXR), research showed that success in your job and your ability to grow in that role was based on 15% hard skills and 85% soft skills. Additionally, the research also showed that 80% of individuals who were terminated or failed at their jobs were due to the lack of soft skill training. 

Even though data can prove that VR training works very well, some companies are still hesitant to adopt immersive learning within their LMS. They need to see the ROI (return on investment). In the same AIXR report, Katya London, VP of Talent Management said, “Corporate environments are tied to old traditions, so there needs to be strong evidence in retention, engagement, and their ROI.” London continues, “If they can see direct tangible evidence showing that there is a ROI, then they are more willing to consider making the investment.”

Benefits of Soft Skills Training Using VR

  • It’s scalable and can be distributed globally.
  • The training is easily repeatable.
  • Explore different options.
  • Provides performance data and a whole new level of behavioral data that up to this point, wasn’t available through traditional training.
  • It takes the learner out of the classroom or textbook, and puts them into a full 360 learning environment.
  • Offer a large range of training experiences.
  • Able to place learners into incredibly difficult situations without real-word consequences.
  • Experience situations from other perspectives, known as “In Your Shoes”.
  • Explore “What if” scenarios.

Creating a VR Training for Soft Skills

Developing a VR training application for soft skills is all about creating scenarios. The idea is to capture the real-world and make it digital in an immersive format.  This can be done through 360 videos or photos, or creating your own custom VR experience.

If you are creating your own experience, put emphasis on emotions, empathy and building emotional intelligence while crafting your VR scenario. Think about the way that someone on the other end of a situation is affecting you, or maybe a manger comes in and changes the atmosphere of the room.

  • How do you navigate those situations?
  • What are the options?
  • What emotions are involved?

What Does the Employee Get Through VR Soft Skills Training?

  • The learner is able to direct the experience.
  • Decisions are based on emotional response.
  • Able to practice without boundaries.
  • Able to explore multiple options.
  • The exercise is repeatable.

Soft skills are a huge part of an employee’s success.  Developing them can strengthen the relationship you have with colleagues and employees, which can have a huge impact on the organization.  It’s about understanding emotions and learning how to manage them to create a positive environment that can encourage employee evangelism, and build a passionate work environment.

In the end, a successful employee means a successful business, and using VR for soft skills training is the key to that success. All this adds up to a powerful new way for an entire workforce to learn skills that are hard to acquire in other ways and to turn training into a positive experience that people actually look forward to.

Not only will Bank of America bring in a VR as part of their employee development program, but they are also planning on using AI-powered conversation simulators to help further employee skills through role-playing opportunities.

PHOTO: Amir Hamja for The Wall Street Journal

For Bank of America, it’s obvious they are committed to leveraging VR training and other new technologies to improve employee performance, which in turn means a better banking experience all together for you, the customer.

Of course, Bank of America is not alone in this approach. Many other companies in multiple organizations are turning to VR technology to help their employees with quick decision making during difficult situations.