It was a revolution that began in 1969 with a simple question: “Can television be used to teach young children?”
It didn’t take very long to get the answer to that question — a resounding “Yes!” — as programs including Sesame Street, The Electric Company and other acclaimed shows proved that television could, indeed, be something much more than a mindless babysitter or electronic wasteland.
While the names of the specific television programs may be most familiar to viewers, Sesame Workshop is the international nonprofit educational organization that produces these and many other programs as well as content for multiple media platforms on a wide range of issues including literacy, health and military deployment. These programs and materials help young children and families in over 150 countries develop critical skills, acquire healthy habits and build emotional strength to prepare them for lifelong learning.
In its overall organizational and production role, Sesame Workshop provides the infrastructure and staff that make the magic on our TV screens and in other materials not only brilliant, but seemingly effortless. Behind the scenes, however, that is made possible by smart planning, talented people and effective technology, including YouSendIt for Business.
Need to Share Business Content Efficiently With Partners Around the World
“While we’re based out of New York and have our only office here,” explains Noah Broadwater, Chief Technology Officer of Sesame Workshop, “we work with 34 partners – partners who create their own versions of Sesame Street in their own languages with their own characters that are representative of their own cultures. We work closely with them to guide them through the process. We work to make sure they adhere to the standards we’ve established regarding educating children through the power of media. Aside from that, we also have thousands of licensing partners around the world with whom we’re constantly working to create products that are grounded in our mission.
The revenue generated from those products goes right back into funding the development of our programs and educational materials.” Working with so many co-production partners and licensing partners requires Sesame Workshop to share business content in the form of large files, such as video, animation and graphics files, rapidly and securely.
Until recently, large files were shared back and forth, initially as email attachments, and later using FTP systems. Both of these approaches, however, proved impractical – email because of attachment size limitations and FTP because of its complexity, need for IT involvement and concerns about security.
“At first,” says Broadwater, “when email couldn’t handle the large files sizes, our production partners in places like India, would film shows and send us the tapes in the mail. We’d have to wait to receive them, mark them up and then ship them back to them. This process took a great deal of time.”
That’s when the organization began using FTP. However, FTP had its own problems – largely ones of complexity and diverting limited IT staff from other work. Broadwater comments that Sesame Workshop staff hated FTP, finding it anything but user-friendly.
Search for Other File Sharing Options Leads to YouSendIt for Business
These frustrations and limitations led Sesame Workshop to look for other options for sending and receiving large files that would be more efficient, secure, transparent and accepted by staff.
“We sort of stumbled upon YouSendIt,” recalls Broadwater. “Then we learned that a lot of people in the organization were already using it. So we decided to take a closer look at it. We identified and evaluated several other options as well. The key criteria in our evaluations were whether the solutions had the security and management feature set we required and whether it was affordable. In evaluating the various options, we had both IT staff and end-users ‘kick the tires’ to determine which solution would best meet everyone’s needs.”
The evaluation produced a consensus on the best solution: YouSendIt for Business. Users chose it for its ease of use and ability to make them more efficient in their jobs (Using FTP, it was common for it to take 15 to 20 minutes for a user to send a file. With YouSendIt for Business, it was immediate and required no more skill than using email.) IT was impressed by its ability to gain oversight of the system – to have a view into daily activity and to have the ability to manage users and set policy. These were capabilities IT did not find in the other options it evaluated.
“It was a win-win for users and IT,” says Broadwater. “We initially deployed YouSendIt for Business with the Outlook plug-in to an initial group of users. It took about a day for that implementation. It’s kind of flawless for our users. By having it integrated with Outlook, from their perspective, they’re just sending email. They don’t even think about it. They just put in the name of the intended recipient, hit send and the files are sent. That’s a world of difference from the experience they had with FTP. That’s why we’re planning to deploy it to all 450 of our employees.”
“The three biggest groups using YouSendIt for Business,” says Broadwater, “are our international team (the people who work with our co-producers), our digital media team (the group that works with our vendors to develop games for our website, for consoles and for apps) and our licensing group, which deals with our product vendors.”
“YouSendIt for Business Is An Amazing Technology”
In just the short period of time since Sesame Workshop implemented YouSendIt for Business, the positive difference has been significant enough that the organization is planning to deploy it to the entire company – 450 users – over the coming months.
In addition to using YouSendIt for Business with the Outlook plug-in, Sesame Workshop uses the YouSendIt for Business dropbox to receive large files from its global production and licensing partners.
While it’s too early to have gathered extensive metrics on the effectiveness of YouSendIt for Business, Broadwater has plenty of anecdotal evidence that Sesame Workshop made the right choice with YouSendIt for Business. “When we were using FTP, we were averaging over 20 calls per week to our help desk. Since we implemented YouSendIt for Business, we’ve had a total of three, and they were all calls requesting the Outlook plug-in. Our users are clearly happy with the solution and more productive.
Looking to the future, Broadwater expects to take advantage of YouSendIt for Business’s support for mobile devices to enable tablet users to share business content such as their standard PowerPoint presentations that on average are about 500 megabytes in size. He’s also hoping to take better advantage of YouSendIt for Business’s folder sharing functionality.
“YouSendIt for Business is an amazing technology. We use it and love it,” Broadwater adds enthusiastically.