Advanced video streaming offers benefits across industry sectors
With the exponential growth of connectivity, the explosion of smartphones, tablets and other devices, and the massive popularity of social video channels, such as YouTube, video has become very much a part of everyday life in recent years.
Enterprises and educators have long recognised the power of video to assist with teaching and communicating, but have major concerns about the impact that video will have on their network, their IT infrastructure and support team, as well as the ability to deliver a quality video experience to users using a multitude of different devices, even in low-bandwidth environments.
With advances in video streaming technology we now find that video streaming vendors are able to deliver video traffic using http, that they are offering virtualised software solutions rather than hardware, and that they are able to use the power of current browser versions to broadcast and play video - i.e. no need ever to deploy software to the user devices. By delivering video using adaptive bit-rate streaming, which automatically assesses the appropriate video quality to be delivered under the specific viewer circumstances, viewers are also assured of a best possible experience with almost no buffering. These advances absolutely address the traditional concerns often expressed by IT departments, but what of the actual usable functionality?
The core capabilities of video streaming vendors
The core capabilities of video streaming vendors are live broadcast and providing easy access to recordings of these events, or other video assets, but these capabilities are only a small part of the story. Vendors have expanded the interactive capability of viewers to include a multitude of question asking and answering, and feedback to the presenter capabilities, and we now see that the power of the question asking can be extended to the use in tracking the viewers' progress through a playlist of videos.
In addition to this, viewers and authors are now able to enrich their video experience by making comments within video for all to see, and then reply to or collaborate on. Extensions to this include note-taking capabilities for notes that are private to their own personal experience of the video so that when reviewing the session, or searching for it later, their specific reference points can easily be found in the video timeline.
Our view is that major differentiators in this space for the future relate to the ability for these streaming vendors to integrate to investments made by enterprises in their videoconferencing equipment, Microsoft Lync and SharePoint, and in enabling the off-lining of video (with digital right management) for use when viewers are not connected to the Internet.
Key pain points within the corporate environment that are addressed by video streaming are:
Don't need to move trainers or trainees around;
Don't need to re-perform training or to go to great lengths and expense to separately accommodate those that missed training sessions;
Know that the training has both been "attended" and if it was understood; and
Speed of taking new products to market is dramatically enhanced as no need to for rolling training programme restricted by movement.
CEO and other exec messaging broadcasts;
Webcasting to public or invited guests;
Internal communication of culture messages through featured or assigned videos or broadcasts;
Collaboration around live messages using commenting and social actions; and
Fun internal video creation competitions which initiatives using the secure/private YouTube capability.
Record video conversations which take place in Microsoft Lync; and
Record meetings held in videoconference rooms or using other video capture devices like webcams.
Universities and colleges are using video to transform both their efficiency in the delivery of their core services and in fundamentally changing the way they teach.
By addressing the issues of dispersed campuses and creating a tool whereby specialists are no longer restricted to their physical location, more students can be accommodated without having to build any further physical facilities or incur travel expenses.
By delivering messages to the classroom in advance of the lectures they are using the time in the classroom to truly engage, debate, discuss and answer questions and this becomes a time where the real learning takes place.
Virtual attendance of graduation ceremonies (live or later on demand) by parents who cannot be present addresses a secondary need in most tertiary education environments.