How a Pilot Program Helps Overcome Barriers to New Technology
Why You Need a Pilot Program
Has your organization decided to exploring the use of Augmented Reality(AR)? Or any technology new to your organization to help improve fleet maintenance operations or training? The first moment of truth is critical, particularly as it relates to the augmented reality headset. As we engage our clients in designing evaluations of AUGMENTOR™, concern over whether a workforce will take to the Microsoft HoloLens is inevitable. In almost any job, if a worker is suddenly asked to wear an AR headset their natural instinct will be to wonder why. Most of the hesitation is coming from three concerns:
- The workforce is aging and may not be technically savvy enough to use it
- They won’t bother for fear of looking foolish
- Maintenance technicians are resistant to change, happy with legacy solutions
These are valid concerns. The transportation industry, which craves modernization, faces a shortage in technicians and suffers from less than ideal work conditions. Not addressing these challenges can lead to failure. These concerns are also reasons why DI recommends engaging in a pilot program. A pilot program engages technicians immediately and prevents frustration by making them critical members of the evaluation team. It is inevitable that not all feedback will be positive – the key is to design the pilot in a way that the feedback evaluates the technology and not the person.
1. Set Expectations
The most important aspect of introducing new technology is to set clear expectations of your goals. DI’s AUGMENTOR™ for example, uses the HoloLens and its use will not be perfect on day one. The expectation that it will must be checked. Additionally, no two enterprises are the same. Policies, management style, work structures, etc. are always different. A pilot needs to be planned early, including how to introduce technicians to the technology. Allow them to use it and be very clear about what the limitations are. The technology introduction period is also a great opportunity to involve your employees in crafting the metrics you use to evaluate the programs effectiveness.
2. Engage users in the feedback process
The goal of the pilot is not just to evaluate. Feedback from the pilot is used for decision making and to plan future adoption and scalability goals. You can’t do this without high engagement from your end users, particularly those that will be expected to wear the HoloLens. The pilot structure must be designed in a way that their feedback is sought on a recurring basis. Engaging users in how they are doing with the headset and what are they finding difficult is important for not only pilot success, but long-term implementation. Depending on the organization and timing of the pilot, this can be determined on a daily or weekly basis. The key is inclusion – not seeking or accepting feedback and soliciting ideas for best practices is a recipe for pilot failure. You will not be able to overcome the headset as a barrier if you don’t engage your personnel in what is working or not.
3. Choose champions not just participants
A pilot requires an executive champion, someone influential that guides the group. However, there should also be a champion at the end user level who is adequately trained on the headset prior to the pilot kickoff. A trusted technician who can be relied upon to ensure the evaluation is carried out as designed and solicit feedback from co-workers. Notice they are not selected to ensure the hardware or software is ultimately adopted, rather they are chosen to help make the pilot a success. A successful pilot is determined by collection of valid data following an extremely thorough evaluation. The champion can make sure the headset gets worn and the software is used as intended. They can bring challenges to the success of the pilot to the leadership team early and often and help course correct as needed.
4. Adequately train technicians
Appropriately training on donning the headset, using its features, strategies and timing for appropriately charging the unit is critical to the pilot’s success. We have had the pleasure of teaching many technicians of varying age and experience how to use the HoloLens. There is almost a universal law of usability as it relates to the HoloLens. If you can learn to coordinate head-tracking and the finger gesture to select (the equivalent of point and click on a mouse), the rest comes easy. Focusing on training the basic interaction through gesture, head tracking and voice first will make learning software like AUGMENTOR™ inside the headset much easier. It doesn’t have to take long, but it should be structured and presented like anything else you train. It is easy to overlook these basic interactions, but without them, personnel will perceive the software as very difficult to use.
5. Don’t underestimate your technicians
During one initial demonstration, a fleet maintenance manager was adamant that his older technicians would not wear any headset, let alone a HoloLens, exclaiming, “No way in hell they will bother with that thing.” Interviews with these technicians actually revealed a keen interest in the headset and AUGMENTOR™ with many of the technicians not only having already heard of augmented reality, but had played games or seen videos online. They were a lot more open to the concept than once thought, and if it could make them more efficient or offer a safer workplace, they were more than willing to give it a shot. One technician in particular spoke of purchasing a virtual reality headset for his grandson, but after first testing it out, decided to keep it for himself. We can’t underestimate the appetite personnel have for trying new things if the technology is positioned to help them.
The first moment of truth, often the introduction of an augmented reality headset, is critical. For organizations that are considering modernizing their fleet maintenance operations, a well-run pilot is paramount. It is your opportunity to introduce something new and exciting, but if not done strategically, it may put up walls instead of breaking them down.
Design Interactive has been optimizing human performance at ludicrous speed since 1998. We develop innovative, engaging augmented and virtual reality training solutions. To learn more about how we can leverage technology to improve your business processes, contact us here.