Rollins Inc. needed to migrate its satellite network and deploy an interactive distance-learning platform capable of reaching new international locations and 10,000 employees around the globe. The network had to deliver content live and on-demand to large-screen televisions in training and break rooms for group sessions; desktops; laptops; and mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones.
Early last year leaders at consumer and commercial services company Rollins Inc. realized their legacy satellite-based communications and training network was too limiting and costly to expand to the company’s global locations. With the satellite network nearing its end of life, the company’s continual expansion and the opportunity to leverage available bandwidth on the terrestrial network, the time was right to shop for a new option.
A new, more-efficient system could leverage the newest technologies and enable interactive distance learning and development via new media devices, which could offer potential business benefits. Rollins needed an interactive streaming media system that would scale with its rapidly growing business, improve communication and training, and be cost-effective, from initial deployment into the long term.
The project team reviewed Rollins’ existing data network against satellite and other delivery options, comparing the current system and interactive distance learning capabilities against potential new features and benefits. Upgrading the data network to be fully IP multicast-enabled was a key factor because many leaders, including those in the learning organization, were concerned that a new system might not be reliable. The satellite network typically delivered 40 hours of live product knowledge training each week to 350 branch locations, with participants viewing in training or break rooms at 50 to 70 locations at any given time.
In the past few years Rollins acquired numerous domestic pest and termite control companies and expanded global franchise operations, while maintaining brand identities separate from Orkin Pest Control, one of its biggest brands. Because future growth is projected, the proposed learning platform had to provide certain capabilities and meet specific goals.
First, learning leaders looked to improve the development and communication channels with customers, vendors and strategic partners while extending the network’s reach domestically and globally. Second, having a learning platform in place that would enhance performance and training results through tools and metrics, and improve processes was also critical. Third, the platform had to empower users to create and distribute their own content from anywhere. Finally, the proposed system had to help leaders control and reduce costs.
Reach Associates Anywhere, Anytime
In general, content has increasingly gone mobile, and so have associates. Employees learning and working only from their desks is no longer a reality or desired outcome. Reaching people on the go promotes productivity and saves costs related to required travel and necessary infrastructure.
Rollins’ new platform would deliver content to sales and specialists in the field, speeding information delivery, training and results. So the network needed to seamlessly deliver content to multiple viewing environments for live and on-demand programming. These included large-screen televisions in the training and break rooms for group sessions; desktops; laptops; and mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones. Achieving this would provide interactive capabilities between instructors and students and provide a reliable, intuitive and easy-to-use system.
In addition to the general platform goals, Rollins’ ideal network would enable content creation, publishing, content delivery, network management, display systems, interactive approaches and systems, and sophisticated analytics and audience tracking and measurement. Leaders wanted something to provide functionality and reliability, and to integrate a varied suite of tools to facilitate an interactive, multifunctional streaming media platform that could reach users anytime, anywhere through any device. Rollins chose the Tempo Enterprise Media Platform, or Tempo, from Globecomm.
In July 2012, Tempo was deployed to all of the company’s U.S. Orkin and Western locations. The complete content delivery network, or CDN, system for communication with smaller U.S. brands and the rest of the world, including Canada, China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Central and South America, was in place by September 2012. Work is now underway to add the Rollins HomeTeam Pest Defense brand, incorporating 50 U.S. sites, by the end of this year.
A Best-of-Breed Content System
Rollins’ Tempo platform is based on a hybrid network architecture that allows live-event transmission and on-demand content to be simultaneously distributed over its multiprotocol label switching, or MPLS, network and Globecomm Internet CDN. In the 500 Orkin and western branch offices supported by the Rollins MPLS network, Tempo distributes a program feed for viewing on newly installed flat-screen televisions in break rooms that connect to computers via the location’s local area network. Other branches and international locations can access content over the public Internet via the Tempo CDN component.
Rollins elected to implement Tempo — incorporating reliable file transfer servers, multiformat streaming encoders, a transcoding platform and comprehensive video asset management system — as a managed video as a service. This approach met Rollins’ immediate needs and long-term goals to eliminate upfront capital costs, allow fixed monthly expenses to mitigate the risk of equipment obsolescence and facilitate automatic upgrades as required, or per new release functionality.
The platform provides more interactive capabilities than Rollins’ previous system. For instance, tablets perform both as viewing devices and interactive keypads to facilitate audio interaction through a built-in microphone. Wi-Fi capabilities are built into the Tempo edge device, allowing students to participate in classes from virtually anywhere in the branch office.
Applications provide specialized learning opportunities. For example, the “A Live Classroom” app enables a group of students to watch on a single television monitor and interact using Android keypad technology. The platform also integrates with existing enterprise software applications, including active directory and learning management systems.
Any successful streaming media content platform must include the ability to manage and store content. Tempo provides a complete media asset management system located at the Rollins University studio, providing a smooth workflow process, user-friendly access and the ability to manage all training and communication content.
Broader Reach, Widespread Results
One of the most significant outcomes of the Rollins Tempo Enterprise Media Platform deployment has been increased global reach to employees and customers — from 500 U.S. locations on the old Rollins satellite network to more than 10,000 globally with the new platform. Now customers can use the network as well. The number of customers remotely viewing and participating in programs has doubled during the past year.
Social media capabilities built into the system are also driving more interaction and participation. User chats are spurring engagement and building a sense of community. Users can voice opinions and give feedback, which helps both trainer and student, and contributes to more effective training. The old audio functionality allowed only two or three students out of 80 to participate; now every student and user can interact in real time.
Increased engagement through greater interaction and chat functionality also has improved overall learning. Instructors get nearly real-time feedback and can gauge students’ understanding of the material in the moment, take additional time to address problem areas and use metrics to assess understanding. Subject matter experts connected to the system can engage and comment on chats before the instructor. Technical issues and scheduling problems also can be resolved without disrupting classes.
New and unique pest infestation situations that threaten specific or widespread geographic areas can be quickly addressed by training field technicians on appropriate treatments. As Rollins opens new offices or adds new franchisees, employees can be trained quickly and efficiently in the field, which means they can generate revenue faster.
Ed Behan is vice president of enterprise markets for Globecomm Inc., a satellite communications company. He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.