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Emerging Technologies: A Revolution with Challenges

By Kizzy M. Dominguez, President of K. Parks Consulting, Inc. (KPC)
Emerging technologies continue to lead a revolution in the ways organizational training, education, and assessments are more effectively and efficiently conducted which has yielded fantastic results. These technologies have radically altered the landscape in achieving higher rates of learning and growth not only for organizations and their members, but also within entire industries. While the future of such technologies as Virtual Reality (VR), 360-degree videos, and other learning management systems remains bright, there are challenges in some uses of these technologies that continue to help focus the efforts of those professionals that specialize in their use in their effort to solve the practical problems some organizations may encounter as they adapt to these technologies.
For example, technology which allows users to become fully immersed in an interactive, computer-generated three-dimensional environment has greatly advanced in recent years. VR seemed like a technology destined to forever live in the future: tantalizingly close, yet just out of reach for practical use by organizations. Recent advancements in computer processing, video graphics, and hardware, however, finally closed the gap between today and tomorrow, allowing consumers and organizations to readily obtain inexpensive, high-quality VR experiences (Axworthy, 2016). What used to require a room of computers and thousands of dollars in equipment can now be had by anyone with a smartphone and a $12 pair of VR goggles. The sudden ubiquity of VR is reflected in the projections for its growth over the next several years. The total revenue related to VR usage across all industries is expected to increase from $7 billion in 2017 to over $74 billion in 2021 (Greenlight Insights, 2017). Although consumer VR applications represent the largest market sector now, the adoption of VR technology by organizations will eventually surpass use by consumers (Beccue & Wheelock, 2017). Organizations are already exploring how VR can be best used in their operations, and they are extremely interested in applying it to talent management. A recent survey found 48% of organizations are considering adopting VR for simulation exercises, testing, onboarding, and training (Tandulwadikar, 2016), while some companies have begun experimenting with VR as part of their people processes (McLaren, 2017). Walmart, for example, planned to include VR in all its training academies by the end of 2017 (Feloni, 2017), while German transportation company Deutsche Bahn uses VR Realistic Job Previews (RJPs) at career fairs to show applicants what it is like to work in jobs that are hard to fill at the company (Dixon, 2017) and Lloyds Bank has developed a VR assessment to determine job candidates’ personality characteristics (Roberts, 2016). As the cost of VR technology continues to decrease and its quality increases, it will significantly influence how organizations recruit, hire, and train their workforces (Salas, Kozlowski, & Chen, 2017).
The challenge with employing these emerging technologies is that there are very few empirical or practical resources available to guide these organizations’ efforts to best use these technologies. While there was some discussion several years ago about the potential for VR in talent management and selection (e.g., Aguinis, Henle, & Beaty, 2001; Pierce & Aguinis, 1997), the technology then was too expensive for widespread adoption by organizations. As a result, it was not possible to conduct empirical studies and begin developing a robust evidence base. Similarly, practical guidance about implementing VR in this field can be challenging as some organizations have only recently started using VR for talent management, and any issues related to the development and deployment of VR technology in other fields have not been reported outside of their respective specialty areas (e.g., clinical psychology, computer science, medical). This is also true for government agencies, as there remains a dearth of information they can use to assess the critical role VR can play in the development, implementation, and evaluation of their talent management initiatives.
Therefore, organizations continue to need information about the practical use of emerging technologies such as VR and 360-degree videos for not only their training and education efforts but also for their talent recruitment and retention efforts. Recent advances in this technology have now made it possible for organizations to incorporate it more seamlessly into their employee recruiting and hiring processes. However, more information is needed to properly develop, implement, and evaluate these types of initiatives to achieve true talent management. The continued collaboration of the diverse group of researchers and talent management consultants using emerging technologies, including sharing examples of current applications, potential implementation challenges, addressing important research gaps, and defining the future of emerging technologies as versatile tools should be a major factor in addressing this challenge.
From the perspective of this Entrepreneur and Industrial/Organizational scientist-practitioner with firsthand experience working with this technology in research and client engagements, how these technologies are perceived and currently used by some organizations in talent management remains a challenge to those organizations achieving their fullest potentials. While the widespread use of emerging technologies in training and education has been decidedly successful, the successful methods and techniques of those organizations associated with implementing these technologies must continue to be shared with those that would benefit from using these technologies in their own talent management initiatives. Through expert mentoring, educating, and supporting of those organizations grappling with talent management challenges through uniquely tailored initiatives that leverage the already-proven success of these emerging technologies, those organizations should be fully able to realize all of the benefits these technologies have to offer and thereby achieve their fullest potentials.
About the Author
Dr. Kizzy Dominguez is the founder and President of K. Parks Consulting, Inc. (KPC), which is one of the 2017 Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing Private Companies.” KPC creates difference makers through instructor-led, web-based, and blended learning, as well as through executive coaching and emerging technology services, such as VR and 360-degree implementation. Over the last three years, KPC has trained and coached over 10,000 students and collaborated with several public-sector agencies to implement emerging technologies and their use.
With over 50 team members located worldwide, KPC Difference Makers have been helping clients shape their futures since 2008 by partnering with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and universities, with such clients as FHI, Medtronic, Seminole State College, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division.
Dr. Dominguez was recently recognized by Profiles in Diversity Journal as a “Woman Worth Watching.” She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology. Her published work includes several book chapters, a case study in “Understanding and Management Diversity,” and an edited book, “Managing Diversity in the Military: The Value of Inclusion in a Culture of Uniformity.”