Monday, January 27, 2014

Tempo: Not Just for Training

I spent the train ride home from New York to Baltimore reflecting on how great the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show 2014 had been.  Attendance was strong, energy levels were high and retailers from around the world were focused on identifying solutions that would allow them to reduce costs, increase sales and improve the customer experience. 

The key takeaway for me was that retailers are focused on a differentiated  customer experience that not only meets, but exceeds expectations. I spoke with one company who was interested in conducting in-store focus groups with a centrally located subject matter expert being broadcast into the store.  The retailer wanted this to be more than just a broadcast experience, they wanted customers to have the ability to provide real time feedback by using store provided or personal smart devices to answer questions and make suggestions.

Another was interested in enhancing the level of assistance provided by associates by equipping them with tablets that not only had access to key product information, but could also process electronic payments and expedite checkout.

Each of these retailers understood the value proposition of a single platform designed to deliver content anytime, anywhere and to any device.  Each understood the positive ROI implications that not only provided customer facing benefits, but could also be used to better train and inform employees as well.  Best of all, each was excited to learn that all of the hardware, software and services could be offered by a single partner and as a managed service. 2014 promises to be a very exciting year for Tempo!

Kevin Lawrence, Sales Manager, Tempo

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Right Stuff for Retail

“The Right Stuff,” first a book by Tom Wolfe then a successful movie, is a study in competition.  It describes the competition between test pilots for altitude and speed records, the competition between astronauts for plum assignments, and the competition between superpowers for dominance in space.

Competition between retailers is perhaps not quite as high stakes but it is definitely as fierce, with successes measured in sales per square foot rather than successful earth orbits.  And like the space race, the outcome will be decided by a combination of technology and people with the Right Stuff.

The technology is interactive video on the sales floor.  Whether it is purely for elevating the customer experience, like Hollister stores streaming live video of the California beach to reinforce its brand, or fully realized monetization programs with QR codes, digital apps and digital coupons, the result is ultimately the same: more sales.

Telenet Mobile, a major European mobile device retailer, uses interactive digital signage to enhance customer service and reduce operating costs.  Three 46 inch touchscreens guide customers through the process of deciding which smartphone to buy, based on preferences like price range, features, phone plans, and accessories.   Customers are then guided to two or three phones in the store that meet their criteria.  A 10 inch LCD screen sits atop each smartphone display providing additional information about that phone. Finally, a customer can then get additional assistance by speaking with a virtual specialist at the Smart Care Corner where they speak directly to a specialist team at Telenet Mobile’s headquarters.

The results: the stores equipped with the signage require fewer sales associates on the floor, so labor costs have decreased.   But the customer appreciation levels in the stores are higher than in stores without the signage.  And most important, the average order value per customer is “notably higher” in the stores with signage.  You can read the article in ScreenMedia Daily.

But the metaphor does not end here, because the space program did not run on technology alone.  It required people; the best of the best, heroes with the Right Stuff to sit atop those rockets, fly to the stars, and bring the craft home safely when there was a problem in Houston.  With whole chapters of the book devoted to lavish recountings of the rigorous training, it was clear that part of acquiring and nurturing the Right Stuff was training.  It still is.

No streaming beach scene or digital coupon will take the place of an engaged sales associate on your floor, even if technology allows you to have fewer of them.  You have to do a great job hiring to get the “best of the best,” but you have to provide comprehensive training to develop and retain those employees.  You must give your employees the knowledge they need to add value at the point of contact, the skills they need to advance and build a career within the company, and the ongoing communication with senior leadership they need to build and sustain a corporate culture that becomes a real differentiator in a crowded marketplace.

The race for control of the markets will be won by the retailers who commit to giving the people what they want.  The winners will elevate the customer experience through video and music.  They will provide kiosks and tablets to empower customers and sales associates with information right at the point of decision.   The winners will make the in-store shopping experience notably better than the online experience because they will provide the technology to replicate the best features of the at-home experience – like the ability to search for reviews or product information – while providing motivated customer service from highly trained employees augmented by point of sale digital apps.

Digital display and corporate learning are two well-defined markets with plenty of products competing for your attention.  But what sets Tempo apart, what gives us the Right Stuff, is the fact that we are not just a learning solution or a digital signage solution; we are a communications platform with which you can communicate on multiple screens – televisions, signs, computers, mobile devices – for numerous applications.  With one platform you can control your digital display, your employee training, your video asset management, your employee collaboration, your live streaming events, and your enterprise content delivery.  With Tempo you can do all of this with one unified infrastructure, one coherent user experience, and one comprehensive set of analytics.  If you have a different vendor for each video application in your enterprise, you are building a digital Tower of Babel with video silos that will lower your digital ROI.

The space race seemed at the time to be about control of the universe.  Competition amongst retailers is perhaps not quite so grand in scope but it is definitely existential.  Losers will perish.  That is why it is so exciting to be in our industry and why I cannot wait to go to the National Retail Federation show in a few days and hear from the retailers who are doing it best.

Michael Grant, Sales Manager, Tempo

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tempo and the Next Three Moments of Need

As I mentioned in my previous post, the five moments of learning need have been popularized by Mosher and Gottfredson. They are learning for the first time (New), learning additional (More), learning when need to remember (Apply), learning when things break (Solve) and learning when the world changes (Change).

Last time I focused on "New" and "More". This time I’m covering "Apply", "Solve" and "Change". Again I invite you to compare your learning delivery to this idealized standard.

The first two moments of need lend themselves to formal instruction methods, however the remaining three are best served by performance support delivery. The "Apply" moment of need is easily recognized by the learner saying something like, “I know we covered this in class, but I just can’t remember it now that I have to use it.” Likewise the "Solve" and "Change" moments of need occur out in the real world at a time when the situation demands the learner’s skilled performance. 

"Solve" means that something does not work as expected and now a problem has presented itself.  "Change" means that the something in the world has changed. Maybe it’s the process or the tools or the competition.

Each of these moments of need require a rapid response. All the foundational content is not needed. Just the steps that were forgotten are needed in the "Apply" case. Just the new steps are needed in the "Solve" or "Change" case.

Tempo users find that their set of tools give them this rapid response capability.  By building the right size modules, the Tempo catalog and chapter index can serve as a task oriented performance support tool guiding the learner to just the steps needed at the time.

When something breaks or the world changes, Tempo users can quickly create new modules or replacement modules and distribute them across the enterprise.
Tempo’s support of multiple mobile devices means that the Tempo users can access this new content on the fly when and where it’s needed. This is key to providing performance support capability.

How does your learning solution stack up? Does it provide support to learners at each moment of need? Can you re-use your content to provide both formal instruction and on-demand performance support? Can you deliver this content when and where your learners need it?  My Tempo clients tell me yes, they can.

Rick Darby is President of SEDATA, LLC , consultants specializing in video-centric Interactive Distance Learning and technology-based training.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tempo and the First Two Moments of Need

The five moments of learning need have been popularized by Mosher and Gottfredson. They are learning for the first time (New), learning additional (More), learning when need to remember (Apply), learning when things break  (Solve) and learning when the world changes (Change). I have found that they serve as a useful check list for assessing an organization’s learning strategy.  We will focus on New and More in this post. I invite you to compare your learning delivery to this idealized standard.

New and More, the first two moments of need, are usually addressed by formal learning techniques.  When a learner is completely new to a subject, a prescriptive approach is often the most efficient. The typical “Introduction to …” course covers the foundations of the subject and lays the groundwork for understanding the more complex, advanced topics.  The advanced topics (More) are covered in the same way.

Subjects that are key to an employee’s performance in a critical role are usually supported by formal learning in mature organizations. These often include line management, sales, service delivery and customer support.  A curriculum of courses is created for each of the critical roles. The content of each course is derived from job task analysis, ideally using Performance DNA methodology. 

This approach assures management that employees new to these critical roles gain a solid understanding of the fundamental knowledge needed for job success.

My Tempo clients find that they have a set of state of the art tools that allow them to quickly create and update modules for their formal training courses. The Tempo platform supports live, distance learning sessions that leverage facilitator and subject matter experts’ time and availability without having to schedule travel to distant outposts or the tremendous expense of bringing the learners to a central facility. 

The immediacy of real time, high definition video gives the learners the feeling that they are right in the room with the instructors and their peers. Client surveys have found that the training received in this manner is just as effective as the traditional classroom training approach while yielding a significant savings in time and money.

My Tempo user clients also find that they have the ability to create self-paced modules from the live sessions without the overhead of major editing and configuration required of other systems. With a modicum of planning and foresight, the self-paced, on demand versions of these modules are available for distribution almost immediately. In addition, the interactivity presentation and tracking are the same for the on-demand attendees as the live session attendees. The self-paced modules are used to deliver pre-requisite content, background information and as make-up modules for those who cannot attend the live sessions.

In my next post I will address the three remaining moments of need and how they can be implemented in an ideal learning strategy model.

Rick Darby is President of SEDATA, LLC , consultants specializing in video-centric Interactive Distance Learning and technology-based training.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tempo and Performance Support

My clients are always interested in doing things better. That’s definitely true for the training function. When we discuss this topic, I always like to ask the following:

“What’s better than training your people really, really well?” My answer is, "Not having to train them at all. Isn't it better if they could already do their jobs?"

Of course it is. This is where the fields of training and performance support overlap. Performance support deals with helping people do their jobs accurately and efficiently. Modern practitioners of corporate learning know how to combine training and performance support into a single discipline.

Learners don’t always have to attend a formal training course to execute new tasks. It is often that a memorandum on the new procedure outlining the new tasks together with a quick reference chart is more than sufficient.

TEMPO users have even more flexibility in this regard. TEMPO’s course catalog feature allows users to quickly and easily locate a module covering a specific task. With today’s video tools a TEMPO author can quickly create a demonstration of the new procedure, show how it fits in the field and have the CEO speak to the importance of its adoption. Upload that into TEMPO and a five minute video viewed when and where the user needs it is now ready to support the user.

No need to schedule classes, rooms or people. The solution is available enterprise-wide immediately. TEMPO is not just a training tool, it’s also a performance support tool.

Rick Darby
Rick Darby is President of SEDATA, LLC , consultants specializing in video-centric Interactive Distance Learning and technology-based training.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Virtual is Still Real. Image is Everything

For the longest time computers were actual physical hardware machines and software made the difference. This software was called "the image" and each machine had one. Now virtual technology allows a hardware machine to support many soft machines, meaning that the software image is now the computer.

Tempo allows for installing an operational image on existing hardware. This provides a selection of modular features within the Tempo ecosystem, and integrates within currently managed IT systems. Streaming, On-Demand, and Interactive training are all features available through the image, along with many more options.

Supporting existing hardware, or as an appliance, the reality of Tempo is that software image is everything; and it extends the possibility for solutions anywhere and everywhere!

James Brown, Sales Engineer, Tempo

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tempo & Play Network: Expanding The Vision Of One Platform

Last week's announcement of a strategic alliance between Globecomm and Play Network to integrate their music and digital signage services into our Tempo platform, represents a giant step forward in the evolution of the Enterprise Video Platform, and creates compelling value propositions for the clients we serve.

When we first conceived Tempo, we placed ourselves five or six years in the future and asked: "What will large enterprises need in terms of a video delivery system"? One of our guiding principles was that of "One Platform". We were living in a world where there were streaming and webcasting platforms for Corporate Communications, proprietary systems for Interactive Distance Learning, and Digital Signage systems with less than elegant implementations. We believed that all of these applications would converge into a single platform, kind of like Microsoft Office. We were correct. And as we have evolved our philosophy, items like third-party training content, mobile app delivery, and customer facing applications - including in-store music and advanced digital display systems - have become essential elements of our roadmap. The Tempo/Play Network alliance adds the Customer Experience elements of in-store music and advanced signage to our platform.

This announcement is also significant because we are now not only providing the technology, we are providing the content. The future will be defined by how users interact with content. Together with Play Network, we are now in the business of defining that experience. Nothing excites us more.

It has also been exciting to see the market response to this announcement. My favorite interaction was with a Fortune 50 retailer who said "With Tempo, I can replace five existing systems with a single platform from a single vendor." That is the power of One Platform.

Lastly, it is great to be working with the folks at Play Network. We could not have hoped for a better partner. They are a focused, knowledgable, and forward-leaning organization. I see the fire in the eyes of our team when we walk out of meetings with them. It is inspiring.

Ed Behan, Vice President of Enterprise Services, Globecomm