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Virtual engagement may be on event marketer’s mind these days, but for AT&T, virtual training events are no new venture. They’ve been a big part of the program at AT&T University, where the brand hosts up to 20 million hours in training each year for the company’s 250,000 employees and contractor ranks.
“Our organization is pretty substantial, and we’re touching every employee multiple times a year on everything from career development to leadership development, on down into tactical, functional product-related activities,” says Wesley Long, assistant vp at AT&T University, whose role is to seek out and manage technology that enables this all to come to life. “From augmented reality to virtual reality, we always have an eye on the next emerging technology that we can use to further our goals.”
When DirecTV merged with AT&T several years ago, Long’s team needed to develop training that would help technicians learn to align satellite dishes on a house with precision. This sort of training would usually involve building model homes all over the country and hosting technicians there to show them in person.
“We used virtual reality to kind of flip the script on that a little bit, to where we could drop technicians into someone’s backyard and have them do that same work in a VR simulation, and glean the same information as they could have if in person,” Long says. “For us, it was cost avoidance, cost savings, training retention, and a lot of other different reasons why we did it.”
Traditionally, creating immersive content has required manual work by a 3D artist that could take several days to complete. Today, software makes it easier for brands to take existing design files and “automatically optimize and convert it” to be immediately usable on web, or augmented reality or VR applications, says Ashley Crowder, ceo at Vntana, which specializes in holograms and converting content into 3D assets for augmented reality and VR applications.
Crowder says beyond training programs, the use-cases for 3D files are endless, from 3D e-commerce to interactive apps to AR try-ons at home. All brands, she says, should be thinking about 3D content strategies. In fact, brands that have a 3D version of their product on the web has proven to result in a “double conversion rate,” she says. For training programs like AT&T’s, Crowder cites a study by Accenture that found people retain 75 percent more information in AR and VR than through flat content. “It reduces training time by 40 percent, which is a significant difference,” she says.