Kevin Cornish, CEO and founder at Moth+Flame discusses a few trending uses of virtual reality in learning and development across the tech market and how this is set to deeply impact the industry:
Tell us a little about yourself Kevin…we’d love to hear a little bit about Moth+Flame and some of the recent ways in which the platform has enabled better HR and other business support with its VR solutions?
I’m the Founder and CEO of Moth+Flame, which I launched after shooting a Taylor Swift music video with a 360 camera and seeing the power of virtual reality. I spent my career in feature films before starting this company and I think my entertainment background has helped us develop an incredible product with a realistic and engaging visual element. I started the company with a focus on building entertainment experiences for brands, and we almost immediately began expanding this mission by translating our tech and approach to build immersive training solutions for the enterprise and other large scale organizations. We currently work with leaders including the US Air Force and Accenture and look forward to expanding further.
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For the Air Force, we provide hard skills training, including pilot training and mechanic training, but also soft skills training like suicide prevention. We are now gearing up to launch a virtual reality diversity, equity, and inclusion training that I think will be the most exciting thing we do this year and I’d love to share a bit more about this. We’re really excited about how our content building tools can help our partners. For this one, Accenture has used our platform to develop a training program that helps people identify their own inherent bias by having conversations in virtual reality with people from different backgrounds. Practicing having tough conversations is something that can help almost anyone grow, so we think this will be a great new tool for HR managers to help them meet their diversity goals.
What are some of the ways in which you’ve seen businesses’ needs for HR Tech and Tech Tools of other kinds change during the pandemic – what are some of the ways in which you feel HR tech innovators can enhance their offerings to suit these changing needs (how /why?).
With the shift to the remote workplace, every Learning & Development strategy is changing. Something that we hear from HR leaders is that many remote trainings are not as effective as the previous solution of in-person training. When employees participate in a computer-based training, they are often multitasking on email or social media and it’s simply not engaging. Virtual Reality is the perfect solution. High quality learning. Scalability of software. Over the last two years, there have been significant studies performed on the effectiveness of learning in virtual reality and we know this is what HR professionals are looking for–more effective, more scalable, and less expensive. The pandemic and our new normal of working from home have accelerated the timeline to start adopting these remote learning modalities.
A renewed focus on soft skills is taking center stage across industries and roles. Can you take us through some of the ways in which Moth+Flame has built custom programs for leading brands so far?
We’re really excited about how our partners are using our content building tools to innovate. We provide the tech platform and our customers develop the content of the program. This way, they can harness the brain power of their subject matter experts and funnel that knowledge into a VR experience. On a recent program, our content partner commissioned input from a wide group of civil rights advocates and they worked collaboratively in our content pipeline in a way that never would have been possible just a couple years ago. Our experiences also employ a systematic learning approach to appeal to HR decision makers. This means that improvements to the learning tools carry over from one program to the next, creating continuous improvement cycles that benefit the learner. Our customers are generally blown away by the interactive nature of a virtual reality experience and we are starting to get a lot of data back on the retention rates for employees.
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As leaders respond to the business needs of the new normal; what are some of the top thoughts you’d share (and virtual reality backed solutions) to drive business (training) goals and strengthen policies?
The jump to virtual reality is happening now because the pilot programs that proved the ROI kicked off in 2018. Now, as an L&D (Learning & Development) leader, you can rationalize spending on a pilot program off of proven data in similar organizations. There are big ROI stories. For example, we have a customer that cut an 8-figure training line item by 10X. In soft skills training, we’re seeing big improvements in confidence when approaching difficult conversations and in satisfaction, both from end users and managers. When thinking about the right use case to kick off a pilot program, consider the big picture, C-level goals and identify the one area of the learning strategy where a big success story can be told.
We start with goals anytime we on-board a new customer and make sure they are using the platform in ways that will make sure they get a win out of using the product. This may be about cost, where the previous solution was in-person training, or may be about improving revenue, in the case of sales training. Or with an example like DEI, this is a place where there is pressure coming from the board and shareholders to show a commitment to change and a training program in VR can become a big win. Whatever the first program, it’s important that there’s a clear goal that can tell a big headline success story when the program is complete.
What are some of the top tech trends and in-demand skills you feel should dominate overall training in the near-future?
2021 will be a busy year for VR applications in the enterprise, especially in HR and training. As I mentioned above, the first enterprise adopters started VR pilots in their organizations in 2018, and now, there is enough data that the ROI is clear and proven. Of course, the pandemic naturally sped up these conversations and decisions. And, with the shift to remote work, we will see more emphasis on how to drive productivity at home and how to better meet employees needs at home and in the workplace. Overall, the biggest need that we’re seeing with customers is around DEI. There is so much about this use case that can benefit from training in VR that we’ve been seeing incredible customer excitement about bringing it into their organization.
Before we wrap up, we’d love to hear a little about the employee culture and experience at Moth+Flame!
We are dreamers and indulge in one another’s creativity. Many of our employees have been enamored with virtual reality since they were a kid (virtual reality technology has been around since the 80s) and have worked in the space for years, and now the technology is at a place where past limits of the medium are far in the rearview. The applications of VR are wide and varied, but put simply, we believe VR can help humans improve their lives and enrich their experiences with others. And, of course, we do our weekly all hands meetings in VR!
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Moth+Flame is an award-winning developer of immersive training technology, pioneering the next decade of virtual reality learning for the private and public sector. Led by experts from immersive tech and entertainment, Moth+Flame combines artistic prowess with engineering excellence. The company’s PromiseVR and READY VR training platforms, powered by AI and natural language processing, offer innovative, adaptive learning programs for hard and soft skills. Moth+Flame customers include: Netflix, Accenture, IMAX, Estee Lauder Companies, Google, Oculus, AMC, Discovery, MTV, AT&T, Ram Truck, AMD and Taylor Swift. Moth+Flame work has been recognized for excellence by institutions including Television Academy, Cannes Lions, Mobile World Congress, SXSW, AICP NEXT, Future of Storytelling, Clio, Sundance, Tribeca Film Festival and has been permanently archived in the Museum of Modern Art.