Immersive training: Alstom gets on the rails of the metaverse

The metaverse applied to training is still a concept. The use of virtual reality is, on the other hand, already very present in companies, for example within SNCF Réseaux, which develops immersive content for training, simulation and change management.

For Thiên-Sinh P, Head of Academy & Customer Services at publisher Uptale, a specialist in immersive training, “the promises [des univers virtuels] are beautiful, but there are still a number of obstacles”.

Obstacles to the massification of VR in business

Their designs remain complex. The costs of virtual environments for training are also high, and their creation time-consuming. And scaling is even more so if the content is exclusive to headsets. virtual reality (VR), which also poses difficulties.

To remove these obstacles, Uptale has therefore developed a Web platform operating in low-code so that training and materials design professionals can work independently. In addition, content designed using the solution is compatible with all terminals and integrates with e-learning platforms (LMS).

For the publisher, it is a first step towards the metaverse. Several large companies are already using it: Stellantis (150 immersive experiences created in 3 years), Michelin, L’Oréal, Total Energies, Danone, Fnac Darty… and even Alstom. Who said more about his project during the IMagine Day Metavers event organized by the IMA.

Different use cases of immersive technologies

At Alstom, the use of virtual reality and immersion in training is part of a deeper overhaul of internal training through digitalization.

In the company, this digitization and the use of new technologies, including VR, have contributed since 2015 “to the competitiveness of the group”, explains Franck Gaillard, director of training for the Alstom group.

This competitiveness was all the more critical as the industrialist changed its face considerably after the oh so controversial sale of its energy (and corporate) activities to General Electric. Alstom then becomes a pure-player in transport “with a critical issue, which is that of growth in order to become the leader in this market. »

Training in ATAWADAC mode for Alstom

With this sale, Alstom also lost its internal corporate university. Everything had to be recreated.

A training strategy is then defined to support the company’s growth policy. “We could not continue to provide face-to-face training for tens of thousands of employees all over the world. »

The first step therefore consisted in digitizing the training, in addition to refocusing it even more on the users. This philosophy can be summed up in an acronym: ATAWADAC (Any Time, AnyWhere, Any Device, Any Content).

Over the 2019/2020 financial year, 27,000 employees were trained.

Graph of training progress at Alstom
Evolution of training at Alstom

At the same time, Alstom was considering a new strategy involving the use of virtual reality and extended reality. “We weren’t talking about metaverse yet, but we can quite easily consider that this is what is in the sights”, comments Franck Gaillard.

If the metaverse is not yet a tangible reality, digitalization has proven its worth during the 2020 lockdowns. Alstom has been able to ensure the continuity of its training around the world. Not in all areas though.

“It was not possible for technical training, for team building, or events, for which, although we are already very digitized, there were limits”, adds the director. To remedy this, HR has therefore sought to increase the use of technology.

80 immersive contents in VR

Alstom has thus used various tools to design immersive content, including that of Uptale, and to organize events (with Komodal and Virbela).

The training materials, 80 to date, are available on the group’s LMS platform and thus accessible to the 36,000 employees at the time.

This workforce has grown to more than 75,000 since the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation. Thanks to the IT integration work, from day 1 of the merger, all employees were able to access all the content.

On this occasion, Alstom organized a challenge based on virtual visits to industrial sites and presentations of products from the new group. Digital has thus fostered links between entities, in addition to reducing training costs.

But for Franck Gaillard, the benefits also lie in the educational, environmental and quality of life impacts for trainers.

From a pedagogical point of view, virtual reality allows better learning through immersion in environments close to real conditions. It also allows training on situations presenting risks, for example on the railroad, with financial gains at stake.

A case of immersive reality at Alstom
A case of immersive reality at Alstom

Alstom is now embarking on a new stage of transformation in training within the framework of its corporate university. The group is thus setting up campuses in different regions of the world. These offer “discovery tours of virtual reality to appropriate the tools and technical means. »

Interview during the IMagine Day Metavers conference organized by the IMA on October 12, 2022.

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Immersive training: Alstom gets on the rails of the metaverse

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