IBM highlights popularity of mobile devices and closed captioning for streaming

Joint study with Morning Consult examines how viewing practices are tied to workplace productivity.

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IBM unveiled dozens of insights about how people access video content in its new report on streaming and workplace productivity. The study, "What Your Business Needs to Know About Video Streaming," digs deep into what people love and hate most about streaming video content at work.

Chris Zaloumis, senior director of enterprise video offerings at IBM, wrote a blog post explaining that IBM worked with the research company Morning Consult to "conduct research on employee streaming behavior, device preferences, and priority features." 

According to Zaloumis, the study's most important findings were that mobile devices are one of the most popular ways people stream videos and that closed caption was a priority for enterprises streaming videos. 

The report also highlights that despite improvements in internet speed and availability, many people still suffer from problems with buffering that disrupt their viewing experience.

"Today, 62% of employees stream work-related video—such as training and development, company events, and town hall meetings—on smartphones, more than doubling those using desktop (27%)," Zaloumis wrote. 

"With this divide in mind, it is important to create content that is compatible with and formatted for mobile devices. One in five employees (20%) report the inability to watch videos on a mobile device was the most detrimental to workplace productivity—ranked behind buffering issues, which is a top complaint across mobile and desktop streaming."

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Nearly half of respondents said they wanted to use mobile video platforms to engage more with employees and customers alike.

One of the biggest complaints aired in the survey revolved around buffering, which 53% of respondents said had a noticeable effect on workplace productivity. Zaloumis said the main culprit was lagging internet bandwidth, which was crucial considering 83% of those who spoke to researchers said they used Wi-Fi to stream video as opposed to 4G LTE.

The report notes that this is likely to change quickly as 5G is rolled out to more and more users in the coming years. Zaloumis wrote that 5G "uses uniquely high and directional frequencies for a stronger internet connection, making the network well-suited for employees' current smartphone streaming habits." 

"5G will make mobile video streaming 10x better not just for one individual, but for anyone streaming a video at the same time by creating a data super-highway. It will also impact fixed wireless connections throughout offices, for lightning fast browsing and streaming, as well as upload and download speeds," he added.

One unexpectedly popular feature that many respondents to the survey highlighted was closed captioning, which was popular for a variety of reasons. Nearly 70% of those who responded to the survey said they used captions when streaming video but within that number, there was a diversity of use cases. 

Just 5% said they used captions because of hearing issues, while nearly 20% said they use it simply because it is more convenient than listening. Another 15% use captions so that they can watch videos without the volume and 13% deploy it for help with translations.

Looking ahead, the most desired features respondents hoped would come down the pipeline involved downloadable and searchable content. Half of all respondents wanted a way to be able to search for specific things within a video, with 25% reporting that they wanted to be able to find keywords or phrases. Another 25% said they wanted tools to search for specific scenes, objects or people.

The most desired feature of all was the ability to download videos and watch them without internet, which seemed to be tied to the issues people reported with buffering.  

"By revitalizing their employees' relationships with workplace video streaming, businesses can look forward to greater productivity and connectivity across teams," Zaloumis wrote. "Companies need to prioritize mobile compatibility, stay flexible as emerging technology like 5G becomes a reality, understand the applicability of closed captioning, and invest in new capabilities that enhance the viewing experience." 

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