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IT looks for online video to boost corporate training, collaboration, marketing

Some firms are taking advantage of technology that's banned from many corporate desktops

By Heather Havenstein
March 5, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - While some companies are struggling to keep employees from watching online YouTube videos in the office, others are turning to video technology to improve internal training and collaboration, and to expand external marketing programs.

For example, Rohm and Haas Co., a Philadelphia-based manufacturer of specialty chemicals, construction materials and other products, later this month will launch what it calls a "corporate YouTube" site for its 15,000 employees around the world.

Other companies are taking a less expensive route by posting internally created videos on YouTube and other social networking sites to market themselves and their wares.

Rohm and Haas said the internal site will be used to give workers access to training and information about a wide variety of topics from their peers.

Charles Wallace, chief technical architect and IT director for global architecture and infrastructure at Rohm and Haas, said that a searchable library of online videos supports the natural tendency of workers to "bypass the knowledge base and go to their next-door neighbor [at work] or to the employees who know" to get answers to questions.

Wallace said company officials expect that the system will help the company achieve an important goal -- a cutback on travel -- by providing Rohm and Haas employees with access to one another via video programs.

The company's internal affinity groups -- workers with common interests in performance management, career development and mentoring -- were among the creators of the first videos for the library, which will be called PrimeTime, Wallace added.

Rohn and Haas said it expects 50 to 75 Prime Time videos to be available to employees when the program debuts.

The company created the system and will run it using the Studio hosted webcasting service from Interactive Video Technologies Inc., Wallace said.

The hosted Studio tools combine and synchronize audio and video, PowerPoint presentations and screen captures with "one-click publishing," according to Interactive Video officials. The system can also track the use of those videos, the company said.

Over the long term, Rohm and Haas plans to expand access to Studio so additional employees can make videos for the library, Wallace said.

Greg Pulier, founder and chief technology officer of Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Interactive Video, described the efforts of Rohm and Haas and other companies as moves to "democratize webcasting" by allowing more employees to create and view videos on their corporate desktop systems. For example, a top salesman could create on his own a video that demonstrates his process for selling products, he noted.

Pulier described the video sites created by companies such as Rohm and Haas as a kind of second-generation corporate video strategy.

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