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Image courtesy of SAP Image Library

Work life for SAP employees has drastically changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, SAP employees went from socialising in an office environment to working from home. Virtual meetings over Zoom and Teams have become the norm, but these constant meetings can cause fatigue and don’t achieve the level of engagement that in-person meetings provide. At the SAP Academy for Sales, we saw this challenge as an opportunity to experiment and energize the learning experience for our Associates by infusing Virtual Reality (VR) technology into our curriculum.

Because VR technology has matured over the last 18 months — with the release of higher quality and more affordable VR headsets — many organizations have started to take advantage of this technology to offer unique experiences to their customers. For instance, the NBA offers an immersive virtual reality where customers can be transported to the “Inside the NBA” studio to stream select games and events. Virtual concerts are also starting to take off as artists realize there is an opportunity to offer interactive VR experiences as an alternative to typical livestreams. Another example is a university in Brazil that, after adopting VR as a learning tool,  found that “teaching with virtual reality can increase knowledge retention fourfold and halve learning times.”

In September of this year, the SAP Academy for Sales launched a VR pilot across three Academy programs: Sales, Presales and Digital Sales. The objective of the pilot was to see if VR had the ability to reinvigorate relationships with colleagues, teach associates concepts in an immersive environment and reimagine ways to “wow” customers.

The Academy Associates were equipped with their own VR headset, which gave them the ability to interact with their colleagues in a virtual office building. The VR office building, provided by RAUM, had three virtual floors and included an auditorium, presentation centre, boardrooms, breakout rooms and workspaces.

Our virtual meeting room contained different 3D objects and shapes that participants could manipulate, hold and pass to each other. “We try to think outside the box,” said Joana Ramos, a VR pilot participant. “In VR, there is no box.” Academy participants used these 3D objects to build their ideal step-by-step customer journey when purchasing a product online, from selecting a product to delivery. After building and presenting their 3D story, the participants added virtual sticky notes describing how SAP solutions support each step in the customer journey.

Standing on the virtual auditorium stage, participants could also practice their presentation skills in a large venue (imagine overcoming stage fright in a virtual world). In future versions of RAUM, participants will be able to present in a large hall packed with a live virtual audience sitting in the virtual auditorium.

Image taken in VR RAUM environment courtesy of Yasin El-Hendi

The feedback to the pilot from the Associates was overwhelmingly positive! The VR environment felt so real participants were often puzzled when they removed their headsets and were suddenly transported back to their home living room. As pilot participant Jason Fobe said: “It was extraordinary. I didn't expect the greatness of VR and all the things we can do and create.”

Mike Kaszuk, COO for Midmarket NA, also had the chance to experience the VR pilot first-hand. “It was a great immersive and cool experience,” he said. “I was blown away.”

Karina Edmonds, SVP Global Head of Academies & University Alliances was impressed by the level of engagement the VR experience provided. “I felt like we were all in the same room,” she said. “It was an exciting new way to engage, learn and practice new skills. I look forward to expanding our use of VR broadly.”

VR also gives SAP the opportunity to reimagine the customer experience in a competitive market. Academy Associates have leveraged their newfound VR skills to create VR customer- facing presentations. Lindsay Neill, Director, IT Applications at Mizuho OSI an SAP customer, described the VR experience with SAP as “the greatest thing I’ve ever done with any vendor. The experience is so immersive. I was completely in the moment with your team and listening to their presentations. I’d actually love to meet with other customers or attend an SAP event in virtual reality.”

Image taken in VR RAUM environment courtesy of Yasin El-Hendi

Based on the overwhelming success of the pilot, all Academy sales programs will be incorporating VR in 2022 and participants will be certified as SAP VR Champions with the skills to host internal and customer-facing meetings in VR. The recent announcement by Meta/Facebook proves that big companies are moving towards VR. The SAP Academy for Sales will now be among the leading innovative organizations using VR to re-invigorate the customer experience.

Are you ready for the Metaverse? We welcome your comments and feedback here:

SAP The future of work:

SAP Academy for Sales: