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DellTV: Driving Down the Cost of Creating and Sharing Content

We’ve all heard the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” meaning that seeing something visually conveys much more information, much more impactfully, than reading a description of the picture. Add movement and sound and that impact can be increased exponentially. That, in a nutshell, is the power behind DellTV. 

DellTV is a globally accessible rich-media creation, management, and delivery tool built with the objective of driving efficiencies in communications among business units within Dell Technologies and increasing the effectiveness of communications through the use of video. 

Beyond the ability to communicate a message more efficiently and effectively, video also adds benefit by enhancing the credibility of the subject of the video, says Lawrence Grafton, Dell Technologies Global Enablement Strategy Lead/DellTV Administrator. Lawrence attributes this credibility enhancement to what’s known as parasocial interaction, which is a term used by social scientists to describe one-sided, “parasocial” interpersonal relationships in which one party knows a great deal about the other, but the other does not. 

Messaging Chaos – Too Much of a Good Thing 

The challenge Dell faced prior to the implementation of DellTV wasn’t a lack of video content. Quite the contrary, the company actually felt that it had too much video content floating around without a centralized means of message control or content management. The company had media being created by the manufacturing, sales, customer support, training, and other teams essentially all independent of one another. The result, says Grafton, was messaging chaos. “And in business,” Grafton adds, “chaos is basically lighting your money on fire.” 

Appreciating the Cost of Video 

When Dell started looking at the cost of all of that video content, they looked at the cost through the lens of dollars per view. For example, a weekly webcast attended by roughly 4000 employees came with an annual price tag of about $750,000. That’s a lot of money. But given the size of the audience and frequency of the calls, it really came out to only about $3.60 per view. Compare that to a price tag of roughly $1000 per ad hoc call with an audience of less than 100 people, which comes out to $10 per view. 

By creating a centralized system to manage all of its content through DellTV, Dell was able to reduce costs through shared content. Manufacturing could more easily and efficiently talk to sales who could more easily and efficiently talk to customer service, etc. 

Searchable and Secure, Among Other Must Haves 

When Dell started conceptualizing DellTV, two key mandates came from the top. Company founder, chairman, and CEO Michael Dell required that the platform be both searchable and secure. But Michael Dell was far from the only stakeholder in this initiative, and searchable and secure were far from the only requirements. Grafton provided the following list of requirements for DellTV from internal business stakeholders. These objectives, or “stops,” as Grafton calls them summarized the challenges any proposed solution would need to overcome. 

  • Security: The platform needed to protect confidential and other sensitive information from unintended access. 
  • Searchable: The platform needed to allow for easy access to those who were intended to access it. 
  • Enable Sales: Every company needs sales to stay alive, and if a large investment was to be made in a platform, it needed to help bring in revenue as well. 
  • Consistency: As noted above, messaging chaos was a challenge for Dell pre-DellTV. Consistency in content and messaging was a key tool in addressing that chaos. 
  • In-Time Messaging: As a technology company, Dell’s messaging can change overnight. Any content library would need to be rigorously maintained to ensure consistency with the latest messaging. 
  • Measurable: A large investment can’t be undertaken without regard to its effectiveness. Having rational and objective measurements was a key requirement. 
  • Leverage Current Technology: Dell had already made considerable investments in existing technologies. Rather than recreating the wheel, leadership sought to leverage those existing investments and functionality. 
  • Content Lifecycle: Just as content needs to be created quickly in response to new business needs, it also needs to be retired if and when those needs change. 
  • Easily Accessible and Digestible: In order for the platform to be valuable, it had to be in a format that was easy for users to access and process. 

Turning Stops into Go’s 

While the list of requirements, or “stops” above may seem like roadblocks, in reality, Dell looked at them as a roadmap. Each potential hurdle was looked at through the lens of a feature as opposed to an impediment to implementation. 

For example, the requirement that the platform be secure served as an impetus to integrate the platform with Dell’s active directory; the need for measurability triggered the use of Mediasite built-in analytics, etc. 

  • Security → Integration with Dell’s Active Directory 
  • Searchable → Mediasite search tools 
  • Enable Sales → On-demand training programs 
  • Consistency → Source created messaging 
  • In-Time Messaging → MyMediasite User Creation Portal 
  • Measurable → Mediasite built-in analytics 
  • Leverage Current Technology → Cloud, mobile devices 
  • Content Life Cycle → Presentation scheduling 
  • Easily Accessible and Digestible → On-Demand to Mobile Device Level, CC 

Out of these attributes and features, a few, in particular, stand out as essential for the viability of the platform. Grafton believes the three keys to the success of DellTV are accessibility, engagement, and analytics. For example, by hosting DellTV in the cloud and utilizing auto-captioning, Dell has made the content on this platform easily accessible to employees around the world and has made it easier to search for spoken content. 

Furthermore, by making the content creation process as simple as possible, Dell created a strong sense of engagement among employees who felt they had agency to contribute to the content hosted on the platform. Moreover, with robust analytics, Dell has been able to successfully track and monitor key metrics on when, how, and by whom that content is being utilized. 

Building a Sense of Community in a Global Company 

In some ways, the timing of the creation of DellTV was extremely fortuitous. It more or less coincided with the emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has created enormous obstacles to personal interaction, both in social situations and at work. Within this environment, DellTV was embraced by employees as a venue for much-needed human-to-human interaction. 

DellTV is a great example of how leveraging cutting-edge technology can help solve even the stickiest challenges. By using tools like Mediasite’s search and analytics capabilities, Dell was able to overcome a host of potential obstacles to the implementation of a shared content creation and community-building platform and turn those obstacles into a roadmap for success. 

Interested in how your organization could get more value from its video content? Learn more.   


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