Name: Carolyn Voelkening
Position: Chief Content Officer
Company: The Marlin Company
Overtime: Working at Marlin has been an indoctrination into the world of workplace safety for Voelkening, which has turned her into the resident safety monitor at home—much to the chagrin of her family! When she’s not pointing out hazards, she enjoys tackling them head-on on her mountain bike.
SCN: What is your position, and what does it entail? What are your responsibilities?
CAROLYN VOELKENING: I’m the chief content officer at Marlin, the only digital signage company focused exclusively on the workplace. My job is to make sure that Marlin provides a built-in content strategy for our customers, which is arguably the most important—and most often overlooked—element of any workplace digital signage initiative. I work hand-in-hand with our product and development team to ensure that our in-app content tools are easy to use and intuitive, and that they satisfy the industry-specific needs of our customers.
But the real gem in Marlin’s built-in content strategy is our workplace subscription content. Marlin provides customers with a 24/7 stream of engaging short-form videos that cover everything from compliance and safety to culture and morale. I have the honor of leading Marlin’s award-winning creative team of content strategists, designers, and visual storytellers.
SCN: How long have you been in this position?
CV: I have been with Marlin for just over two and a half years.
SCN: How has your background prepared you for your role?
CV: My specialty is the digital transformation of legacy systems and the creation of products and processes that leverage digital disruption. Prior to coming to Marlin, I was the chief digital and innovation officer at a regional news media company, where I built out the digital news arm of the business. I joined Marlin at a time when we’d already completed the transition from a print to a digital communication solution, but we hadn’t yet transformed our content to fit a SaaS-based digital signage model.
SCN: What are your short- and long-term goals?
CV: My short-term goal is to continue to identify areas where we can help companies check the compliance box. We’re working closely with customers and our Marlin Content Advisory Board to develop content and strategies that fulfill OSHA, MSHA, and DOL communication requirements. Compliance communication is a perfect example of the potential power of content strategy for digital signage. By providing our customers with automated processes and content that satisfy compliance requirements, we dramatically increase the ROI of any digital signage installation.
Regarding long-term goals, I envision a Marlin solution that takes the three-legged stool of digital signage (hardware, software, and content strategy) and leverages the digital disruption of Industry 4.0. With over 100 years of experience in the workplace, with strategists who are on top of the latest industry trends, and with a team of professional designers, we know what companies need to communicate and we know how to get employees to pay attention. I want to overlay our expertise onto all the new data that companies have access to but don’t yet know what to do with. My goal is to help our customers capitalize on their own digital disruption and improve their performance, compliance, and safety through better employee communication.
SCN: What is the greatest challenge you face?
CV: My greatest personal challenge has always been patience in the face of change. I always want it to go faster (maybe that explains the whole mountain biking thing). Seriously, though, I think one of the greatest challenges we face in the digital signage industry is getting AV and IT professionals to think about workplace digital signage as more than just hardware and software. Content and content strategy are rarely considered, yet they’re the very reason that companies install digital signage in the first place.
SCN: Where do you see the digital signage market heading?
CV: I believe that we’ll always need one-to-many messaging in the workplace; companies will always need to reinforce initiatives that drive performance, safety, and culture. But we are seeing an evolution in the market. Ten years ago, most companies were unfamiliar with digital signage as a tool for employer-to-employee communication. Today, we increasingly find that companies already have a digital signage solution in place, but they come to us because that solution has proven inadequate. They’ve either made the mistake of thinking of IT staff as communication specialists or they simply don’t have the resources to develop enough relevant content. To deliver hard ROI, the workplace digital signage market is going to have to realize that a screen on the wall is not, in and of itself, a communication solution.
SCN: Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from Marlin?
CV: We’re moving full steam ahead developing compliance solutions for our customers. We’re also making sure they have content roadmaps that cover all of their critical issues. In fact, we just released a yearlong content program for our industrial and manufacturing customers that they can use as the foundation of their own in-house communication strategy.
SCN: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from products and/or services you offer?
CV: The best thing that systems contractors can do is take a step back and ask themselves, “Why do customers want to install workplace digital signage? What are they trying to accomplish?” If a company wants to use digital signage to communicate with their employees, they’ll be more successful and get a higher ROI from a comprehensive solution that offers both content and a built-in content strategy.