Magazine article Workforce

Now Playing on a Desktop near You

Magazine article Workforce

Now Playing on a Desktop near You

Article excerpt

The Buzz *New Workplace Technology

It's friendlier than e-mail. It's a virtual bargain. And it's catching on as an effective way of communicating in-house with employees from Boston to Beijing. The technology, called IP/TV, allows employers to use company intranets to send live video to employees.

"IP/TV combines the advantages of television and a computer network," says Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst for Converging Markets and Technologies at In-Stat MDR, a Scottsdale, Arizona, market research and consulting firm. "The ability to connect to thousands of desktops simultaneously can change the way communication takes place. Employees are more receptive to video than to another text e-mail landing in their in-box."

Not long ago, only the largest corporations could foot the bill for broadcast facilities, satellites, and television networks. But the evolution of the Internet and video technology has made it possible for a broad range of organizations to offer real-time speeches, training sessions, seminars, e-learning, and other services to employees.

Here's how it works. Rather than rolling a television set into an office, employees switch on a media player, such as RealOne Player, Apple's QuickTime, or Microsoft's Windows Media Player, to view content at their desktop or laptop. Some firms also embed icons and links in e-mail to simplify the process. If an employee isn't able to view a program at the scheduled time, he can usually tune in later by clicking on a link in a video archive. It's a formula that's helping organizations-such as Ford Motor, WalMart, and Procter & Gamble-add energy to internal communications.

In the last two years, Chicago-based market research firm ACNielsen has used the technology for interactive Q&A sessions between executives and employees, and to offer meetings and other events to more than 2,000 employees located in 20 offices in the United States. …

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