September marks the three year anniversary of Lilyotron! I started this blog as a tool to share my knowledge accumulated working on software development teams. I started off in MES software and wanted to share my real-life examples with the manufacturing community. I thought a blog was the perfect place to share what worked and what didn’t when planning and implementing software in the plant.
The blog quickly grew into an exploration of leadership and my personal story working in the manufacturing and tech industry as the cry for “women in tech” hit the scene in 2016. Women told their stories working in tech, being the only woman in the room, and lack of female representation in leadership positions. The movement also brought some light to it as men and women banned together in discussions on how to make tech less stereotypically nerdy and encourage girls to program and keep going in their CS studies.
As the discussions about women in leadership positions continued, I was hired as COO for a virtual reality startup. Suddenly, my world was open to a new technology that I never considered before. I had to write about it. What is virtual reality (VR)? How can businesses use it in a way that actually adds value to their bottom line? I learned by implementing MES that software can increase the production of a facility to record levels or be a total do-over with hundreds of thousands of dollars lost down the drain. I had to explore how these lessons could apply to VR.
I think virtual reality is no different when it comes to the enterprise. I think VR companies need to be vetted and enterprise companies should start small with pilot programs. One way to do that is by running a Conference Room Pilot (CRP). CRPs are a great way to dip your toes in the water without deep diving into a full implementation (although CRPs are also part of the testing cycle for implementations).
Let’s see how to set up a CRP with virtual reality in the example below.
How to Plan a Conference Room Pilot
Example: CRP for Virtual Reality
- Identify the business process to change. A lot of VR companies will tell you that you need their VR software. But don’t be afraid to ask for VR that fits into what you need. Switching from Cisco to VR teleconferencing is great, but it’s not the biggest bang for your buck.
- New technology requires thinking outside of the box. Is there a process that would benefit from immersive training? For example, KFC built a VR game to supplement training employees on the steps to prep, fry, and pack chicken orders. An auto manufacturer uses VR in the interview process to see how applicants handle different parts on the assembly line.
- Remember the hardware. During one CRP for a manufacturing plant, we realized we needed new scanners and scanner drivers installed on the computers to properly test with the new software we configured. Make a list of all the hardware and computer requirements to run the CRP.
With our VR example, running a CRP is still possible without buying the equipment. VR systems like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are available to rent through companies like AstoundingVR and Blue Hire Virtual Reality. Use this option to test out the software and which hardware is right for your project.
- CRPs are great because they don’t require a completed version of the software to be beneficial. Use a prototype version to test the business assumptions in Step 1 and Step 2. The prototype will give you and an idea of how the tech measures up to support the business. You’ll be able to see which software features need to be expanded on and which aren’t as important.
- Think of it as an experiment. Running a CRP doesn’t mean you have to go all in then and there. Keep note of how employees reacted to the technology and how it would affect their jobs. Consider the CRP a success if it prompted discussion, got people thinking why parts of the business operate the way it does, and how technology can transform (for the better) the way people can do their jobs.
Didn’t get enough of CRPs? Read 5 Steps to a Successful Conference Room Pilot. Check out a recap with the infographic below.