Innovation

Make your company a video powerhouse with these 6 tools

From video conferencing to content marketing, knowing how to use video effectively is critical. Here are six out-of-the-box options to up your video game.

Video, whether it is used for conferencing or content creation, is seeing increased enterprise adoption, and for good reason.

While 93% of workers say they prefer face-to-face communication over video conferencing, according to research from Tsheets, that isn't always possible. Remote workers say their top obstacle is staying connected to homebase. When face-to-face isn't realistic or is too costly, video conferencing performs 30% better than audio-only setups, according to recent research from Owl Labs.

"When you don't have to worry about the technology behind planning the meeting, you eliminate questions and actually focus on the work that needs to be done," said Rob Bellmar, executive vice president of business operations at West's Unified Communications.

Using video for meetings also makes them more efficient, and decreases the chance things will be lost in translation when talking to people with different native languages, Shan Sinha, CEO at video conferencing company Highfive, said.

Businesses that use video conferencing outgrew others by 300%, recent research from Cisco Techaisle found. And these tools continue to evolve to better serve businesses.

"It's not enough that it's easier to join and more engaging than an audio conference. It needs to add more value, and with improvements in AI, that's coming," Sinha said, noting that features like automated meeting notes will be the next big thing in conferencing.

Here are six nontraditional video tools to help companies become more productive while staying on the cutting edge.

SEE: Telecommuting policy (Tech Pro Research)

1. Vidyard GoVideo

Formerly called ViewedIt, Vidyard GoVideo is a free app for personal video messaging designed for business use. Users can create, share, and track video, much like a video version of emailing or texting.

After downloading the app, users can record their screen and share it via email or social media. The creator receives notifications when someone watches the video, so you can track who has seen it and when you should follow up.

Users can use this for training, or guiding someone step-by-step during a walkthrough. The app, which works through Gmail and stays in the compose window, can make a message feel more personalized than an email.

"Simply put, video is the next best thing to being there in person. So it should come as no surprise that its use in business is quickly growing beyond its traditional roots in marketing and training," said Tyler Lessard, vice president of marketing at Vidyard.

2. Very Large Bits

With a punny name, Very Large Bits takes video rendering technology typically available to only large enterprises and brings it to SMBs to make pivoting to video more accessible.

This technology helps businesses personalize video marketing, targeting individual users instead of general demographics. Using an Adobe After Effects plugin, the software provides an API that supports endless variations of a video, featuring different images, videos, and text.

As video grows as a way to reach customers, being able to market specifically to a person or small group may help video content stand out. Bringing this technology to a costpoint SMBs can afford could help those businesses grow and stay up-to-date.

"Businesses benefit by dramatically increasing their video views, likes and shares while enjoying higher engagement and ROI," said Keli Wells, co-founder of Very Large Bits.

3. Adobe Spark

Video use in business isn't all about connecting employees—it can also be used to connect products with potential customers. Adobe Spark, a series of free apps, helps businesses create social content to grab these customers.

Their video app, Spark Video, lets users build short videos by dragging and dropping videos and photos, all without design experience. After creation, the videos can be saved straight to a device or uploaded directly to social media. Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers receive access to additional features for more brand-specific customization, like templates and themes.

While video production, and even drag-and-drop methods, isn't unusual, an app like Spark Video reduces the obstacles some small businesses face when it comes to video production. All of the equipment and experience a user needs is an iPhone, iPad, or computer.

4. Faceter

Faceter's facial recognition program helps businesses work better with customers, potentially increasing customer service along with the accuracy of targeted marketing.

The facial recognition software analyzes a video stream in real time. When it identifies a face, the software catches multiple shots of the face, then builds an unique vector for each face for future identification.

Businesses can use the facial vector in a variety of ways. Faceter worked with Debonairs Pizza, the largest pizza chain in South Africa, to track customers. The software let the business call customers by name, know their preferred toppings, and track how often they get pizza and whom they show up to the restaurant with. The result, according to CEO Robert Pothier, is more personal treatment, like what you would get at a local restaurant, and increased loyalty.

Currently, such facial recognition technology is only available to large businesses due to cost. Faceter is working on a consumer version of the software, designed to be more affordable for SMBs.

5. Meeting Owl

Ever sit in a video conference, hear a voice, and not be entirely sure who it is? Meeting Owl hopes to solve this problem.

Paying homage to its name, the Meeting Owl is an owl-shaped 360-degree video conferencing camera. The owl sits at the center of a conference table and pivots to focus on different people as they speak. Those watching remotely will see each person as they speak, clarifying who is talking and making it feel more like a real meeting.

A majority of interpersonal communication stems from body language and facial expressions, so allowing remote workers to see those aspects allows for a more engaging meeting experience, said CEO Max Makeev.

Making video conferencing more effective can lead to more effective communication between remote workers, as well as a reason to potentially consider adding more remote workers. For companies that tend to fly people out for meetings, the owl can help cut travel costs, the company said.

6. Linius

Videos, especially longer ones, can be packaged in tricky formats that can be difficult to share and use. Linius' Video Virtualization Engine changes those packages into more agile files that can be then used for custom content.

The software "strategically modifies" the video's data while it's heading to its destination, with the reassembly based on defined permissions and target-specific customization. Personalized ads can be included in the video's original data, allowing the ad to bypass adblockers due to the reassembly.

Outside of helping businesses provide custom content, the software cuts costs, adds potential revenue streams, and saves time by dropping steps in the video production process.

Linius can also reduce, if not eliminate, loss due to piracy, according to CEO Chris Richardson. If someone tries to access the content without proper credentials, they'll see a prompt asking them to pay for the content—potentially leading to more revenue.

"This is applying the big-data notion of virtualization to the world of video," said Richardson. "No other technology exists that can access video's digital DNA on a molecular level to tag, index, parse, splice, manage and manipulate it on the fly, in transit between source and screen—transforming static video into what Linius calls intelligent content."

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Image: iStockphoto/Wavebreakmedia

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is a Multiplatform Reporter at TechRepublic.

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