November 3, 2010

The Future of Enterprise Webcasting

Kevin Hill, Intuit, Shaun McIver, Thomson Reuters, KC Hundere, Glendale Community College

Demand for video in the enterprise is increasing, as are the complications

David SparkI’m at Streaming Media West this week in Los Angeles covering the event for Ignite Technologies, a content delivery network for distribution of video within the enterprise. For more of Ignite’s coverage from Streaming Media West, check out Ignite’s blog.

In the enterprise, your colleagues don’t care about webcasting’s exciting features. All they care about is that it works. That means can I hear it and can I see it? If you can’t satisfy that problem, which is tantamount in itself, all the flashy extras are useless. While not exciting, the issue of just “getting streaming video in the enterprise to work” was the top concern during the session “The Future of Enterprise Webcasting” at the Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles.

On the panel discussing this subject were:

  • Moderator: Eric Hards, Manager, Digital Media Services, Lockheed Martin Space Systems
  • Kevin Hill, Mgr., Collaboration Systems, Intuit
  • Shaun McIver, Global Head of Multimedia Solutions, Thomson Reuters
  • KC Hundere, Director, IT, Glendale Community College

The panel covered a wide range of issues. In no particular order, here are some of the concerns, realizations, and solutions brought up during the panel discussion:

  • The single most important change that has to be made over the next couple of years is solving for reliability over the LAN and WAN. Features are secondary. It’s got to sound and look good.
  • Bottom line high quality audio must be first. High quality video is secondary.
  • In the education environment demand for better production quality is increasing. Educators, administrators, and students are  looking for something more than just a camera in the back of the classroom.
  • While there was some talk of mobile distribution and viewing, it wasn’t the focus. Their main desire is to easily create and distribute desktop presentations to PCs. While they’re not as concerned with mobile now, they know that will change over the next few years.
  • Video distribution is an intimate way to tell people about a change in the company environment. Much of the video they’re distributing was produced using Flip cams. The lack of production value is actually beneficial. It makes things look more real.
  • Students at Glendale Community College are actually skipping their desktop video environment for mobile video shooting, production, and distribution.
  • At Intuit they rely on their VPN for distributing content to home offices.
  • Do we need HD content to the desktop in the enterprise? Corporate communications people want 1080p to the desktop. Back in IT land they try to get those people to come back to earth. HD is more of a term. They’re trying to solve for high quality not technically what we know as “high definition.”
  • If you build video press rooms on websites, you must have true HD quality video because television stations will download the video and use it for broadcast.
  • There isn’t a huge push for HD internally…yet.
  • There is a competition to maintain eyeballs within the enterprise. It’s really important to always be thinking about “infotainment.” How do you keep people’s attention for 45 minutes on some corporate information? It’s really easy for your audience to lose interest.
  • Are metrics on viewership important? At Glendale Community College, no it’s not. They’re currently not measuring anything. As a result, it’s not clear whether their video distribution is actually benefiting the students. How they handle this is just through general polling. At Intuit, they just have general viewership information. They don’t know where the people drop off within a program. They want this information to help leaders and producers craft better content.
  • As per measuring who’s monitoring these videos, none are doing it right now. They’d like to target videos to certain people.
  • Security at Intuit and Lockheed Martin Space Systems is purely through private links. If you have the link you can get access to the content, but it’s not indexable, so therefore it’s security through obscurity.
  • Thomson Reuters creates true security for video content. They only allow certain IP address blocks to have access, or they make content only available through referral links. They also have password protection options for videos. Turns out that content security is the number one feature that is requested at Thomson Reuters which offers a video creation and distribution solution for the enterprise.
  • Intuit discovered that having a running social commentary service increases viewership and engagement. Another nice benefit of social engagement like Twitter streams is that viewers end up rating the quality of the video much higher. At Intuit, they discovered that with social engagement tools along the video, viewership slowly ramps up for the first half of the program.
  • Intuit doesn’t have a dedicated video Network Operation Center (NOC), but they are creating a dedicated team where streaming video is their full-time job.
  • At Thomson Reuters they’ve created Webcast Operation Centers (WOCs)
  • For home office delivery, Intuit sends streamed video (300-400 Kbps) over their VPN.
  • None of the panelists were using peer-to-peer technology to distribute video. They haven’t seen huge demand in the market for it. Lockheed was looking at it to reduce costs at their different sites and the reason it didn’t get off the ground is because there weren’t enough viewers in the different remote locations.
  • The enterprises have decided not to try to build their own solutions for publishing and distributing the content. They’ve found that all the additional features like calendaring and social media are all valuable and worth purchasing instead of building.

David Spark, a partner in, helps businesses grow by developing thought leadership through storytelling and covering live events. Contact David by email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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