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Target: An Executive Order for Video On Demand
While close cooperation between business units is crucial for any enterprise-wide initiative’s ultimate success, sometimes a top-down directive is the best way to get things started. That was the case with Target’s internal video on demand efforts, according to Robert Luna, media manager for the corporation’s corporate media center. In 2002, Target’s chief information officer wanted to communicate with his team of 5,000 managers more frequently than at the annual meeting. Today, four departments utilize the VOD service to communicate to more than 15,000 desktops. "Because it was championed by the CIO, video on demand at Target was no challenge to get off the ground," says Luna. "Ramp-up only took about a year."

Having a champion at the top didn’t prevent Luna’s unit from having to deal with the nuts and bolts of actually getting the corporate video to work successfuly for all users. Target’s corporate media center publishes all VOD content using Microsoft Producer, which allows the synchronization of Windows Media files along with PowerPoint and Photoshop files into a rich-media presentation.

In most enterprises, which are PC-only, that wouldn’t pose any problems. But unlike the other organizations I spoke to for this article, Target’s corporate site had users on both Windows and Mac desktops."We had a specific plug-in codec for the QuickTime player that was part of the standard build on the Mac images placed on the desktop systems," Luna says, "but this codec only interpreted Windows Media files up to Version 7, so when a user upgraded to the latest QuickTime player, chances are they would not be able to view the Windows Media-delivered file. We had to unify which players would be allowed to upgrade on the Mac side." Target’s IT division is in the process of upgrading all Mac desktops to include a PC emulation program, which Luna says will allow them to finally move on to enterprise-wide deployment of Windows Media 10 video.

Though most of Luna’s efforts have been focused on internal communications, he’s always seen what his department does as ultimately affecting the success of this very public brand. "The opportunity for our internal audience to see senior leadership in regular intervals on desktops has opened a vehicle of communication that is relatively inexpensive, scalable, and timely," he says. "It also affects the brand internally by supporting the corporate messaging standards, which ultimately affect the brand our external guests see in advertising and in print."

In addition to the internal communications, Luna’s department hosts one large external communications event each year, a business analyst meeting that is held on a different site annually. The video is sent back to Target’s Minneapolis headquarters, from which it is sent out for a live webcast and then hosted for on-demand viewing for three months.

More recently, the corporate media center began supporting the public face of Target in 2005 by overseeing the production and postproduction of video and Flash animation on the consumer website. "Providing rich media content in video form and contributing to the sitelet side of Target.com has given Target more opportunities to show our commitment to brand and fashion."

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