Many recent disruptions across the globe have affected businesses. Some saw their business skyrocket during these events, while others faced shortages and closures. Business models have had to adapt to a new normal, from COVID-19 to tariffs, trade wars, and regional conflicts.
Companies took solace in a wide range of digital technology they could include in their adaptation to the new world. Practices like remote and hybrid work became the norm for whole industries, while others relied on meeting software, IoT, and other technology to distance themselves.
Many began to leverage virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), opening up new opportunities. By adding a 360, simulated, or tactile experience with VR and AR, company leaders could enhance communication with their business mentors.
How VR and AR Shape Mentorship Opportunities
Online meetings have been around for years, but the pandemic accelerated their adoption and pushed the boundaries of what's possible. Video conferencing software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have become indispensable tools for all companies, especially small companies and startups.
These platforms allow teams to collaborate and communicate regardless of their physical location. Beyond basic video calls, these platforms also offer advanced features like screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, and breakout rooms, which can be leveraged to enhance the mentoring experience.
For example, a business mentor could use screen sharing to walk a mentee through a financial report, highlighting key insights and areas for improvement with AR to mark up a virtual spreadsheet or whiteboard. Breakout rooms can facilitate small group discussions, allowing mentees to connect and learn from each other. Virtual backgrounds can help set the tone and create a professional atmosphere, even when mentors and mentees work from home.
VR and AR are also powerful tools for remote learning. VR allows users to enter a fully immersive digital environment, while AR overlays digital content onto the real world. Both can be leveraged to create new depth and impact from mentoring, particularly for industries that rely on hands-on training and experiential learning.
AR facilitates a simulated experience that, in addition to learning from the mentor through verbal communication, lets them learn from mistakes in a simulation and receive real-time feedback. For example, aspiring mechanics could use AR to overlay digital instructions onto a real engine, helping them understand complex concepts and troubleshoot problems more effectively.
Adopting VR and AR for Business Mentorship
VR and AR are maturing technologies, and there are some challenges to adoption. The cost of hardware and software can be a barrier for some entrepreneurs. In addition, many industries don't have enough tech-savvy mentors to benefit from it. But as their utility evolves, barriers to entry will lower, and the ability to adopt its use for mentorship will rise dramatically as the benefits become more prominent and attainable.
One advantage is that entrepreneurs can connect with their mentors at a time that fits their schedule rather than in-person meetings. This is particularly valuable for busy or time-constrained entrepreneurs who need help to fit traditional mentoring sessions into their schedules. Beyond time management, entrepreneurs can find significant benefits in "taking it to the floor." No longer constrained by video alone, VR and AR allow entrepreneurs to show and do while in contact with the mentor.
Enhance Your Mentorship Experience
Digital technologies such as VR and AR have revolutionized how many businesses approach mentorship. By enabling mentors and mentees to collaborate despite physical distance, these tools have opened up new possibilities for companies of all sizes and industries.
If you’re a leader who feels they could benefit from mentorship and wish to leverage all the technology available to enrich the experience, the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian college can help. We offer programs and training on entrepreneurship and mentorship to help you leverage technology while matching you with a mentor who will help you on your journey.
Contact us today to learn more.