This article is an excerpt from The Ultimate Guide to AR Pilots an eBook for Industrial Enterprise. This eBook is a free resource aimed at equipping industrial organizations with the knowledge to plan and run deployment-ready augmented and mixed reality pilot programs.
Your organization’s successful adoption of augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies is contingent on many factors. One of the most critical is buy-in from technology end-users. If the employees who are supposed to be using the technology are encountering barriers, you expose the pilot project — or implementation — to avoidable risk. Through our experience helping industrial organizations test and implement AR/MR technologies, we’ve developed five steps that dramatically increase your chances of achieving end-user buy-in.
Industrial AR pilots are more likely to succeed when two project champions are selected. One of the champions should be one at the management level and responsible for the planning, implementation, management, reporting, and potential deployment.
The second champion should be at the operations level. They should be a member of the end-user group who is keen on the pilot and technology.
The operations champion will help promote the solution with their end-users and can be selected in step three.
They’re responsible for ensuring the solution is being used and for helping other users with any technical troubleshooting, and already have the trust of their peers.
The end-user champion should be selected during the introduction of the AR solution in step seven. Select a staff member who is excited about the technology and displays the technical proficiency to master it quickly.
The human element is perhaps the most critical component of a successful pilot. End-user buy-in is critical to the success of any digital transformation. If workers aren’t motivated, feel threatened, or don’t see the value, the pilot will likely fail. As human beings, we’re all naturally resistant to change. It’s a long hard road to getting your workforce to adopt a new technology and change existing process if they don’t see the value of the change.
This means change management processes need to be in place early, even at the pilot phase, to ensure your project ambassadors can help smooth resistance and ease the transition when it’s time to deploy at scale. Remember to record any adoption barriers your end-users identify or questions that come during the introduction and training phase of the pilot. Keeping track of these will help when you deploy at scale.
To earn trust early, manage employee expectations regarding the AR solution’s capabilities and the pilot. This can be done by ensuring end-users understand the pilot goals, solution functionality, and potential outcomes of the project.
Be cautious not to oversell or miscommunicate, and most importantly, be clear about how end-users can benefit from this change in process.
When expectations don’t align with reality, mistrust in the solution can grow. This results in a lack of engagement with the solution, poor pilot results, and a work culture less likely to accept the solution when it comes time to move toward deployment.
When selecting the end-users to participate in the pilot, it’s helpful to start with an engaged group of five to 10. This can lead to more successful pilots because training and usage monitoring is easier to execute.
Introduce the solution to end-users in an environment in which they feel comfortable and where they do their daily work.
This sets the tone for how the technology is to be used, as an everyday tool.
If end-users are first introduced to the solution in a boardroom, they’re less likely that they will adopt the technology without resistance. The solution may be viewed as a management tool, instead of a support tool designed to help them do their work. Keep the context of your use case and end-users in mind when selecting a location for an introduction to the solution.
Remember that people learn differently and at different rates. Some workers are going to require more time using the device before they fully buy-in, while others will appear to hit the ground running.
As noted in step five, wherever possible, choose a solution provider who is willing to work with you and your team on-site. You or the provider should host a series of one-on-one training sessions between a solution expert and an end-user. End-users will need to be trained on how to operate both the hardware and the software.
Have end-users perform the solution’s entire workflow – from turning it on, to performing the necessary functions, to shutting it off, and storing it – a number of times before moving on to the next user. At the end of each training session be sure to ask the end-user if they have any additional questions about the solution or the pilot.
Provide the end-user champion with additional levels of training because they will become the first resource that other end-users can approach with questions.
During the training, be sure to identify the end-user champion to the rest of the group and explain their role.
Store the solution close to where the end-users work and will perform the selected use case – this is a critical step in promoting uptake. You want your users to approach the solution like another everyday tool, therefore it should be stored alongside them.
For example, if your use case involves field workers servicing pipelines and the workers store their tools in a truck, the solution should also be in the truck. If your end-users work on a manufacturing shop floor soldering wires and tools are stored in a specific location, the solution should be there, too.
Provide ongoing and proactive support to your end-users and champions. You should be contacting the champion at least once a week. Connect in person, wherever possible. If not possible, connect over the phone and use email as a last resort.
Encourage your end-users to be honest about their experience with the solution. Relay their technical concerns to the solution provider, if need be. They should welcome the feedback.
You’re the point of contact between your workers and the solution provider. You must help them overcome any technical blockages. Use these check-ins to inform future experience and perform satisfaction interviews. While performance-based questions may vary depending on your use case and solution, be sure to ask about the following: