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The Enterprise Embraces Streaming Innovation Behind the Firewall

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When we look at the future of television, we are talking about streaming video. Over-the-top (OTT) and online distribution will slowly displace traditional broadcast over the next 10 to 20 years. And when we talk about the innovators in that space, we usually mean Netflix or Hulu or Amazon or a bevy of others all jockeying for consumer eyeballs and dollars. But many of these providers are only trying to gain parity with broadcast television. They are trying to mimic the experience of watching TV while sitting on the couch. As such, much of their innovation is focused on replication. Sure, there are glimpses of features and services—such as personalization, recommendation engines, and interactivity (which has never really panned out)—that TV can’t really replicate. But for the most part, streaming video is trying to look a lot like the TV experience people are used to.

But, unbeknownst to most people, there is a lot of innovation happening around streaming video behind the firewall. In fact, online video usage in the enterprise is surging. According to MarketsandMarkets’ “Enterprise Video Market,” report from 2017: “The enterprise video market is expected to grow from an estimated USD 16.34 Billion in 2017 to USD 40.84 Billion by 2022, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 20.1 percent. The market is primarily driven by the rising demand for the video as a tool to enhance communications and collaborations across enterprises ...”

So, what’s happening? Companies like Microsoft, Kaltura, Brightcove, and Qumu are pushing the envelope of streaming video in an effort to make the medium more usable, not just more consumable. They are taking the best features from consumer offerings (i.e., the “bring your own device” trend that is part of the consumerization of IT) and iterating to create offerings that appeal to the unique needs of the enterprise, yet also capture user mindshare.

Take Microsoft Stream for example. Integrated with a variety of Microsoft tools, this video publishing and discovery platform makes it easy for users across business units to find content they want. That’s typically a major problem within the enterprise, as different groups often employ different publishing tools (including some of the consumer platforms like Brightcove and Kaltura) to meet their individual needs. Microsoft Stream proposes to solve that problem by creating a true “YouTube for the Enterprise.”

In this approach, users get a video platform with familiar features that is laced with a host of innovative technology like machine learning. For example, uploaded videos are automatically analyzed and converted into searchable transcripts, enabling personalization, recommendation, and search technologies to be more effective than relying just on video metadata. What’s more, Microsoft has enabled Stream to integrate with other Office products so users can easily cherry-pick relevant video content to support what they are writing, and share it with anyone in the organization. Consider that the human brain processes video 60,000 times faster than text. Given that we tend to gravitate toward things that avoid cognitive strain, it only makes sense that we employ video more often within the enterprise. Microsoft Stream makes that possible.

But Microsoft isn’t the only company innovating behind the firewall. Just take a look at Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for the “enterprise video platform” market. There are dozens of organizations capitalizing on the consumerization of IT, and on users demanding the features and experience they find in popular consumer services, to create truly robust streaming video platforms. But why hasn’t some of this technology that’s being developed for enterprise users made its way back across the chasm to the consumer space? Why can’t people search YouTube videos by their transcripts? Why can’t users find content more easily across providers? Maybe it’s time the industry starts looking to enterprise streaming video solutions to solve some of the critical streaming video challenges, rather than treating what’s behind the firewall like a red-headed step child.

[This article appears in the January/February 2018 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "Streaming Video: Innovation Behind the Firewall."]

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