At the SCTE’s Broadband Learning & Development conference today in Denver, a programmer from Rogers Cable spoke about the MSO’s efforts to transition its training resources from paper-based to Web-based.
Because Rogers Cable covers a lot of sparsely populated territory, technicians aren’t heavily managed and tend to consider themselves "their own boss," said David Jubinville, communications designer with Rogers Cable. It’s challenging for techs to get into the classroom for training, and they also complained the written training manuals were antiquated and inefficient in the age of the Internet.
To get answers to their technical questions, "they instead called their peers," said Jubinville. "That leads to an inconsistent knowledge application. And the workforce felt quite disgruntled."
To address the training problem, Rogers decided to invest in an online training resource. In 2008, the MSO began developing MOTIF (Modular Online Tagged Informational Formatter), and since March the online resource has been beta-tested by 1,000 field technicians.
MOTIF is kind of a collage of concepts, including ideas from Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Slashdot, corporate intranets and Wikipedia.
"It’s a mashup of models," said Jubinville, who has personally coded much of MOTIF using a variety of open-source software.
MOTIF is created so that users can customize it for themselves, with some techs digging deep into its capabilities, while other less computer-savvy folks can still get answers to their technical questions.
"On a human level, it allows people to connect like they did before, but now have their conversation within our vehicle," said Jubinville.
The system also recognizes those users who contribute valuable information. If a conversation thread gets 80 or more comments, the Rogers training group may include some of that content in the official training document with credit to the contributors. The concept is known as "statelessness," where a training document is constantly evolving.
The system is self-monitored for abuse with the familiar "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" voting by peers.
The timing has been good for rolling out MOTIF because Rogers is currently in the process of blending its cable business with its wireless business. With its nationwide wireless coverage, field techs can use their laptops to access MOTIF anywhere. The training group is designing the system to eventually support other devices such as blackberries and iPhones.
One of the lessons learned so far has been "adopt a beta mentality," said Jubinville. "Once you figure out the process, then bring content in. And lack of authoritarianism here was very, very important."