Use of video is escalating in the enterprise, and organizations need to be ready to meet challenges such as platform selection, video file storage, and device compatibility.
The use of online video in the enterprise is increasing every year as improved bandwidth and processing power combine with changes in workplace norms. In contrast to even a few years ago, the typical information workplace is now filled with live and on-demand video streaming as part of training, HR, marketing, and executive communication. The rise of unified communication solutions that feature video promises to spur that growth even further.
What can you do to ensure a successful experience with online video in your enterprise? Here are 10 success factors you can consider as you look into the role of video in your organization. What you may find surprising is that many of them are not directly related to technology.
Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.
1: Defining success
Video is not a standalone technology in the enterprise. It is, or should be considered, part of a bigger picture involving information worker productivity, business virtualization, and internal communications strategy. Whatever you do with video, it is best to start with a working definition of success. How you define it will depend on your circumstances, of course, but you need to put a stake in the ground. For example, success might mean having the ability to stream live video to any desktop in the enterprise at any time. Or it might mean making video available on demand on any device your organization supports, and so forth.
Enterprise video is a challenging area of technology. To succeed, you will need to find an enterprise video platform you can rely on to implement and scale your video programs. A solid, dynamic, and scalable platform is a given for success with enterprise video.
Video is just like any other form of content — except when it isn't. If your organization is in the process of expanding the scope of its online video, you have to be sure that your policies are keeping pace with that growth. Security, compliance, and acceptable-use policies all need to take video into account. For example, video is "discoverable" electronic evidence that can affect legal matters facing the corporation. However, as a non-text form of content, it can be difficult, or even impossible, to index properly for search and discovery. This type of potential liability from video needs to be addressed clearly by policy.
Like any other form of content, video needs to have a defined lifecycle. Given how enormous video files can be, having a clear life cycle can be a big economic issue for a large corporation. For perspective, consider that the average large corporation may now be sitting on a library of more than 10,000 hours of video created internally. That might represent 20 or 30 terabytes of storage. Video creation is intensifying, and the archiving needs will grow more extreme unless mitigated through an appropriate lifecycle.
5: Network friendliness
Video can wreak havoc on corporate networks. Unicasting is not an option any more, even for isolated remote sites. Any serious enterprise video effort needs to incorporate multicasting and edge-caching of some kind for live and on-demand streaming, respectively. There are new, exciting alternatives coming on the market now, such as multicast fusion on the Adobe Flash Platform. Multicast fusion combines IP multicasting with a secure form of peer-assisted content delivery. This has the potential to improve network utilization despite increases in video load.
6: Site inclusion issues
In my experience working with Fortune 100 clients, there is usually a huge range of bandwidth and infrastructure capacities across a global enterprise. Typically, remote locations have less ability to handle a lot of video streaming. This is both a technological and managerial challenge. If the goal is to provision video equally to any site, your video program will have to confront infrastructure limitations.
7: Departmental unity
The technical challenges inherent in building a successful enterprise video program are ultimately about people in the organization coming to terms with change. Getting to success with enterprise video usually means building consensus amongst different stakeholder groups, including IT, line-of-business (LOB) managers, and media producers. Each group has different needs and constraints. Video can be a source of tension as each group grapples with the costs and challenges of the technology. You have to find a path to agreement and productive collaboration to attain your video goals.
8: Social media integration
At the risk of falling into the hype trap, I do think it's worthwhile to anticipate how your organization is going to be affected by social media and incorporate the social media plan into the video plan. This affects both internal and external facing audiences. Internally, your video solutions should dovetail with corporate social software, such as Microsoft SharePoint and Lotus Connections. Externally, your video should incorporate Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so forth.
9: User-generated content
User-generated content can be the wellspring of business success for your enterprise video program. UGC can reflect the freshest, most innovative learning-oriented side of your organization. Yet users tend not to create video content without some prompting. There is an art to launching a successful UGC program. This should be part of your overall enterprise video plan.
10: Cross-platform/device compatibilityVideo is no longer just a PC medium. Users are experiencing video on all kinds of devices as well as multiple operating systems. You should aim for maximum cross-platform and device compatibility. There are no magic bullets, but some formats, such as Flash, are far more effective at achieving this goal than others.
Greg Pulier is a founder and president of MediaPlatform and has spent the last 10 years developing rich media webcasting software products. After graduating in physics from Harvard University, Pulier worked in the Harvard Robotics Laboratory and the New York University Robotics Laboratory. He then served as the CTO of Radiant Enterprises, developing network control systems. He subsequently joined Boston University's Cognitive and Neural Systems department, and he was the general manager for new products at Digital Evolution. For the past eight years, Pulier has been managing software teams and developing new technologies in the streaming media industry.