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Narrowcast networks support distance learning

Non-retail applications of digital signage technology are proliferating — even in retail firms — as companies discover the additional value that narrowcasting infrastructure can bring to their businesses. Executives looking to justify costs of digital signage networks to the executive board now can make a good case that the technology serves as a vital internal communications tool as well.

The underlying premise of using a digital proprietary network for corporate communications purposes is the same: deliver consistent messaging directly to your key audience — in this case your own employees. Two high-profile consumer companies — Orkin and JCPenney — have launched major employee training initiatives. And digital signage-style networks are at the heart of them, providing distance learning capabilities so that employees in turn provide a uniform experience to customers across the country.

Pest control company Orkin recently launched Orkin TV, an interactive satellite television communications network that links the company's 8000 employees through live broadcast technology.

The 105-year-old company commissioned three firms to develop a system that creates a live virtual classroom for Orkin's employees across the country using satellite broadcasting and digital content delivery. A critical component to the network is an interactive-video-on-demand (IVOD) function that allows employees to play back past programming and participate in past broadcast events. Furthermore, IVOD participation is tracked and recorded in Orkin's learning management system. Orkin's branches will have the ability to play back past programming stored on each receiver's hard drive. While trainees are not able to communicate live with the instructor, they can respond to questions in real time and view survey results.

Orkin is using the satellite training system to add interactive distance learning to its employee training programs. The system will help Orkin save time and monetary resources related to traditional employee training, as new hires will no longer have to travel to the company's Atlanta headquarters for initial training sessions or wait for an instructor to visit their region. And, the time needed to make a new employee productive will be cut in half.

Retail giant JCPenney also unveiled a new satellite- and terrestrial-based network solution aimed at delivering corporate training to more than 150,000 employees throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

With JCPenney’s continuing growth, with more than 1000 locations, the company wanted a more cost-effective and time-efficient model for distributing training to its employees. The company is using the Helius MediaGate Router 4550 and Helius MediaClassroom solution package to centrally control its training programs and distribute the same message to all locations simultaneously via satellite.

The Helius MediaClassroom OneTouch Live and OnDemand software provides a fully interactive live and on-demand training system. This system replaces JCPenney's DVD- and CD-based training delivery model with an on-demand classroom that allows employees to receive the appropriate messages at their leisure. Helius' system also allows JCPenney to track associate training progress through an embedded learning information system that automatically captures trainee progress, test scores and program completion.

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