Terabyte looks to e-learning for growth

Multimedia communications company Terabyte is placing its bets on the interactive learning market growing large enough to rival its core line of online business solutions.

Multimedia communications company Terabyte is placing its bets on the interactive learning market growing large enough to rival its core line of online business solutions.

Former Telecom corporate data services manager David Crown has spent the past year since he started at Terabyte – the same time Virtual Spectator was made a separate business - instilling a new business model.

From this year on, he expects Terabyte’s revenues to fall into two main lines – one being business solutions such as intranets and website development, and the other being interactive, multimedia learning delivered mostly online.

“When I started my plan was to build the business to $20 million in three years, up from $6 million, and that’s still my plan,” he says.

“I would expect we’d quadruple our work in the interactive learning area in next 18 months,” he says.

“We are looking to partner with training companies for this - they provide the specialist content and we’ll design and aggregate the content.”

Terabyte plans to offer programmes for businesses such as health and safety, inductions and training, all done online and supplemented by CD-Roms or DVDs. DVDs can run multi-language tracks and allow businesses to export such programmes, he says.

International research house IDC expects electronic and interactive learning to mushroom from $US1 billion last year to $US11.4 billion in 2003, and Crown expects local companies to catch on soon following in the trends of companies like IBM.

Currently, most of Terabyte’s work comes from the business solutions area, Crown says, with one growing trend this year for Terabyte to work with partners on legacy integration projects. One of Terabyte’s most recent projects was a massive website for Fletcher Building, which because of Fletcher’s group break-up, had to meet a tight deadline for the New York Stock Exchange – and because of the NYSE’s rules, couldn’t be changed or added to after going live.

Crown took over as managing director of Terabyte Interactive after venture capitalist IT Capital made its first investment in Virtual Spectator - then under Terabyte's and Dunedin-based Animation Research’s joint umbrella - and as a result of that investment former Terabyte head Craig Meek left to set Virtual Spectator up as a separate company.

Although the two companies still work closely and Virtual Spectator is one of Terabyte’s biggest clients, the idea was to separate off innovation from Terabyte’s core business.

Crown says he bought in “principles, not rules” and an organisational culture change to structure the business and enable it to scale up to meet large projects.

He says the biggest change he bought in was to stop staff custom building from scratch for each project and get them to “leverage” off past ideas and pre-package platforms. “Now what we were once customising is available off the shelf,” he says.

Several platforms have been packaged and Terabyte is about to release a navigation tool.

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