CXO

Podcasts and videos offer effective new communications modalities for IT

IT communications are fueling alternatives to the written word as the demand for audio and video information delivery continues to grow.

Last week, I visited with Jen Grogono, CEO of uStudio, a podcast and videocast platform that is used for intra-enterprise communications. She offered her insights on how audio and video are helping today's workforce consume information.

"This is a cloud-based platform, and we're seeing an uptick in enterprise adoption for audio and video sales and marketing product briefings, training, and executive communications to employees," Grogono said.

Historically, enterprise communications have come via email or even hardcopy printed memos—but now digitalization and a millennial workforce that is growing in influence are expanding demand for audio and video communications that don't need to be read.

"This is a new mindset," Grogono said. "Employees in remote locations, or those who are traveling or who do work that isn't necessarily tethered to a desk, don't want to take the time to read something they can digest faster through audio or video messaging. Millennials in particular like the audio and video formats. They grew up with computers and video games, so it is a natural fit for them."

In one case, a large department store chain began to live stream executive communications to its large, geographically dispersed workforce. "The strategy enabled everyone, regardless of where or when they worked, to directly see an executive speak to a relevant corporate topic, and to get to the point quicker," Grogono said. "The podcasts and videocasts are shorter and easier to digest. With a written memo, you never really know if the person is actually going to read the entire thing to its end."

The retailer believes that its change in the mode of distributing information has improved employees' ability to absorb enterprise communications, so that work in the field can be more effectively synchronized with corporate goals. It plans to further roll out video and audio communications to the rest of its workforce.

Can technology like this be utilized in IT to improve communications?

"You can record your own audios or videos simply by using available technology on an iPhone," Grogono said. "It can be that simple."

If you are rolling out a new piece of software and need to provide end user training, you could use supporting media like audios and videos. Or if there is a system design change that needs to occur, one that will impact a number of programs that are already written, this information, and what to do, could be communicated via audio or video.

"The main thing to remember is that it's not always the highest quality podcast or videocast that matters most," Grogono said. "What matters is the need for the information. In other words, the more the content of the audio or video is needed by the consumer of the media, the more it will be utilized—regardless of its quality."

Here are several ways IT managers can put audio and video to use.

SEE: Leadership spotlight: How to make meetings worthwhile (Tech Pro Research)

1. Training aids

A simple explanation with a few screenshots or video streams of screen events can show users how to navigate through a new system or how to drill down into vital information they need for their jobs. While this does not replace comprehensive training for new systems, it can supplement training used for new employees or serve as a system usage refresher.

2. IT orientations

A basic introduction to the IT department, the technology units it comprises, the location of people and resources, steps for requesting system access, etc., can be recorded on audio and video and kept in an online library for new and current IT staff to access. New employees will still need a formal department orientation, but these online resources can provide additional information as it is needed.

3. Messages from the CIO to staff

In large IT departments with hundreds or even thousands of IT employees distributed over multiple facilities, the ability to see a podcast or videocast from the CIO that discusses the IT strategic plan and current goals and progress is a convenient way to stay in step with management—and for employees to understand the relevance of the work they do.

4. Videos for vendors

Instead of describing a system screen execution problem to your vendor, you can video it or participate in a shared webcast through a product like TeamViewer. The vendor can then directly observe what's going on, and you get a faster time to problem resolution.

SEE: Technology in education: The latest products and trends (free TechRepublic PDF)

5. General knowledge sharing

As educational help guides, podcasts and videos can be used in an online IT knowledge center. This provides information and know-how to all IT staff who want to know about issues and solutions when they need it.

"Innovative business leaders recognize the importance of bridging the gaps in corporate communications so that employees and managers can access the information they need," Grogono said. "As video and audio continue to become a standard part of daily work streams, they are a natural evolution for today's workplace, where the pace of change and hard-to-engage remote teams dictate more dynamic communication methods."

Also read....

Your thoughts

Has your organization begun to rely on audio and video to disseminate training and other key communications? Share your experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.

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About Mary Shacklett

Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...

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