What the hell is ‘quad play’?

If you’ve not heard the term ‘quad play’ before, first put all thoughts of dangerous team games on small motorised utility vehicles out of your mind. We’re not talking about polo for petrolheads.

Quad play is the newest strategy in the world of telecommunications. Whereas the big players such as O2, BT, Vodafone and TalkTalk used to focus on one or two telecoms markets – mobile, television, broadband or fixed-line – there’s been a gradual move towards total coverage. In 2015, companies have been involved in a race for market share of this new, all-encompassing single market. TalkTalk, until recently a provider of fixed-line and broadband, has established a presence in the mobile market by taking on Tesco Mobile customers. BT is involved in an ongoing takeover of mobile giant EE and is a growing player in television (particularly sports). Sky has teamed up with O2 to offer quad play services, and mobile firm Vodafone is soon to start selling broadband and television services.

The trend reflects developments in content provision, where multi-platform creativity has grown from a buzzword into an increasingly prominent aspect of storytelling in the digital age. Although multi-platforming has been around for a long time – the Star Wars films spawned numerous comic books, video games and television spin-offs – the internet has opened up new opportunities of access and distribution.  A more recent example is Channel 4’s Cucumber / Banana / Tofu: written by Russell T. Davies, Cucumber aired on Channel 4, sister show Banana on E4, and third sibling Tofu was only available on Channel 4’s online service 4oD. The narrative arcs of Cucumber and Banana overlapped, with Tofu exploring issues and experiences seen on its sister shows. Additional exclusive content was also made available online.

The latest development is to integrate scripted and audience-generated content, where fans of a show are asked to participate in its creation. This may involve voting on the best direction in which to take the story, whose perspective the audience wants to see more of, and even the generation of micro-content – such as a line of dialogue – that makes it into the actual production. It’s worth remembering that E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey series of novels (and subsequent film versions) began as fan-fiction written for an online community based around the Twilight novels.

Quad play has lessons for employee engagement as well. The importance of full-spectrum communication in engaging colleagues is well-known; different people prefer to communicate in different ways, whether by email, face-to-face or through recorded content that can be accessed at any time. As we become accustomed to accessing content and communications in different ways – as we come to expect it, in fact – it seems logical that businesses adapt their communications accordingly. And quad play is not just a trend to be followed, but an opportunity to solve long-standing internal communications puzzles: using online video messages to increase senior leaders’ profiles in areas of the business they simply don’t have time to visit as often as they would like, for example. This content can be shaped by colleague feedback generated in town hall meetings, reassuring colleagues that leaders hear their problems and giving leaders a chance to respond.

Essentially, two-way internal communication can be achieved remotely and in a more personable way.

Posted on 15th July 2015 in Insight
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