The State of Enterprise Video 2016
Balancing the need for security with employees' desire to use their own devices at work, enterprise video delivery platforms are more than just a pale imitation of consumer platforms.
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In a recent conversation with a representative from an audio-video (AV) manufacturer, the rep bemoaned the fact that most professional AV integrations don’t meet the ease-of-use benchmarks set by consumer AV equipment.
“Home media and entertainment systems drive professional AV system requirements,” he said, “not the other way around. It’s backwards from the way it used to be.”
The point is well taken. Whether it’s the adoption of smartphones in the enterprise, or tablets, or even low-cost media players such as the new Roku 4 or AppleTV products, the consumer experience—and expectation of ease-of-use for accessing content and “throwing” it to a nearby screen—continues a strong tradition of consumer technologies influencing technology decisions in the enterprise.
It’s a trend with historical precedence: From the advent of desktops with robust graphics processor units (GPUs) that powered personal gaming systems, to more recent dominance of online video platforms (OVPs) such as YouTube—ranked the No. 2 mobile application, just after another video-heavy app, Facebook—which spawned a number of copycat “YouTube for the Enterprise” intranet OVPs, the consumer technology influence on enterprise video strategies is hard to miss.
With that being said, there are several reasons that enterprise video delivery platforms are more than just a pale imitation of consumer platforms. In this State of Enterprise Video article, we’ll explore six of those reasons.
While consumer OVPs are intent on making content available to the consumer, and then protecting that content from being retained or downloaded, enterprise OVP solutions often take the opposite tack. Between the need to protect competition-sensitive video content and also authenticate approved users both on and off the corporate network, the enterprise video approach is to secure content first and then make content available to a narrow group of need-to-know employees.
“Security for us is table stakes,” said David Boyll, Oracle’s director of media technology solutions, in an interview at Streaming Media West 2015. “If it’s not secure, we don’t want it. If you can’t make it secure, we don’t want to use it.”
Boyll said that, in the past, enterprise customers often tended to turn security options off—or would fail to turn security options on—because of their concern that it “would impact user experience, it would contribute to latency, or there was some user action that would get in the way of the experience.”
Today, though, enterprise engagement with an OVP solution requires security solutions that work transparently in the background, protecting content even while they meet the implicit need to not get in the way of a user experience.
“Every solution that we’re looking for needs to be a solution that works in the background transparently and that uses open standards for integration and APIs,” Boyll said. “Any time we are dealing with customer personally identifiable information, who you are, who you work for, where you’re sitting, what’s your MAC address, all of that needs to be secured just at a default level.”
Besides securing personal information about an employee’s viewing history, the other major security area is locking down in-transit data. This may mean encryption of content as well as an encrypted tunnel to the employee, whether via a VPN or across the corporate LAN.
For both Boyll and Eric Hards of Lockheed Martin, the concept of security also extends to content “at rest” or while it is stored in a nontransport mode.
For a number of reasons, Hards said Lockheed Martin chose to bring all its enterprise streaming in-house, although he said the company is still exploring “possible hybrids that [could be used] if we need an external-only kind of event” where both cloud-based enterprise video platforms and on-prem internal delivery could be married together. But security remains a significant hurdle to using an external provider for any internal webcasts.
Consumer influence on corporate media consumption is probably felt the most when it comes to the proliferation of personal devices in the corporate environment. Affectionately known as a bring your own device (BYOD) approach, the concept of employee devices having access to content on a corporate network tends to keep the toes of IT department employees firmly in the digital sandbox.
In this case, sandboxing is the act of partitioning off devices into approved and quarantined applications. Some apps aren’t going to be allowed to access the internet via the corporate network—think VoIP, messaging, or media consumption apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, or even YouTube.
Furthermore, apps that could retain information that the company doesn’t want to leave the corporate environment will be sandboxed from accessing enterprise video content.
“We want to know that you are who you say you are before we give content to you,” Boyll said. “We also want to ensure that the player you’re using is a player we’ve provided you and not something you’re going to use to scrape [enterprise video content] with.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum from security, though, is the need for an enterprise video platform to be able to scale with the enterprise. An OVP that is not able to scale to meet the need of an all-hands meeting or a global customer webcast might find itself out of the running to replace an in-house webcasting solution.
The ability for moderators to collaborate and divide up groups of webcasts has always been an Achilles’ heel for scaling.
Vbrick, known for its early dominance in the live enterprise video streaming marketplace, has recently added a new feature to its Rev enterprise content delivery network (eCDN) platform. Rev, launched several years ago, is designed to be capable of supporting the “massive influx of user-generated content from smartphones and other mobile technologies” that might result from robust adoption of an “enterprise YouTube” platform.
As Vbrick has found renewed success in the corporate market, a more recent need arose: the need to allow moderators to collaborate. So the Vbrick team added a feature that “enables multiple moderators to manage audience interaction as a scalable, coordinated team” in a way that’s fairly ingenious.
In essence, in order to scale, the new feature tasks system administrators with running the event itself, while freeing moderators to, well, moderate the actual meetings. Rev’s interface allows moderators to use a built-in priority and status system to manage and answer audience questions.
The fact that a large-scale webcast might generate hundreds of potential questions means that just one moderator wouldn’t be enough to field and prioritize all these questions. As such, the system allows multiple moderators to divide the questions among the moderation team.
Analytics and Authentication
Two other trends in the enterprise video market— authentication and analytics—are also intertwined.
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