Buyers' Guide to Enterprise Video Platforms 2017
This is a critical question, based on the way that most EVPs now mimic their more expensive siblings on paper, but in reality have a “some assembly required” approach to the marketed functionality.
In the past, the idea was to build every feature into an EVP, but that often meant prioritizing features and functionality, both by overall customer need and competitive advantage. These days, though, while EVPs continue to add key components for core functionality, they often do so as “lite” versions of their more robust media and entertainment platform siblings. Features tend to take a bit longer to implement, waiting for in-platform integration until after the media and entertainment platform has rolled out an updated set of features.
To allow early adopter enterprise customers to access the core functionality, though, today’s EVP offers APIs for more rapid integration into existing enterprise apps and applications. But the IT resources at your disposal must be comfortable with integrating API hooks in order to benefit from all of the marketed EVP functionality.
SINGLE VENDOR VERSUS MULTIPLE VENDORS?
We’ve already touched on this, from an online storage perspective, but there’s more to an EVP solution than just storage and user roles.
A single vendor approach is most like the external-only solution, in that it will be a higher per-month cost but allow an organization to implement its EVP needs more quickly. Limiting costs would require limiting the number of users as well as the amount of online storage.
A multivendor “build” solution may take significantly more time to implement, but it could potentially drop both capex and opex. It also allows for greater customization, although perhaps not as much as a fully home-grown build approach.
Even if your organization is considering an external EVP, if it’s not a single-vendor solution, then we highly recommend the use of a consultant and a systems integrator. Those two roles are sometimes accomplished by the same design-build (or architect-build) firm, but more often they are separated. Some consultants will over-project management services, whether it be managing the request for proposal (RFP) or overseeing the systems integration and commissioning of your EVP.
Roles and Workflows
Using a variety of media creation tools, each contribution team—whether in-house communications resources or external contract vendors—has their own tried-and-true production and streaming delivery workflow. Sometimes these resources use different nonlinear editing (NLE) tools, but, by and large, the delivery workflows overlap in key areas.
To best approach EVP solution providers, it pays to understand at least three user types, both as a way to limit the overall cost of a holistic EVP solution—especially those that charge a premium on a per-user basis—as well as a way to identify which roles your organization needs.
This user type will upload content, add extra metadata, edit content, and prepare it for distribution (via transcoding and moving content to the final delivery point).
This user type is geared toward managing access to the EVP, having authorization to assign various licenses, including contributor and consumer (view-only) on a global basis. One way to limit the overall number of administrative users, who often come at a higher cost than contributors or viewers, is to assign one administrator per business unit or geographic region. That is a less-secure approach than requiring every single person administrating the EVP to authenticate on a discrete user account, but it may be acceptable for non-mission-critical content being delivered on the EVP solution.
CONSUMER (VIEWER OR APPROVER)
This user type can consume (view) content, participate in an approval process, and (optionally) add comments to raw footage in the form of a “paper edit” similar to the process that an instructional designer (ID) might already provide for logging key shots from a long continuous interview.
The consumer role can also be split into two separate roles, such as Client and Consumer. In this case, the approval falls to the “client” role, but many EVPs don’t make that distinction in the functionality of user roles.
While most EVP solutions focus their marketing on the ease of delivery to mobile devices and overall universal distribution, that part of the EVP ecosystem is becoming more and more commoditized, so enterprises will need to look at other factors when choosing a platform.
As we’ve seen throughout this Buyers’ Guide, there are workflow and cost considerations beyond delivery that will affect both capex and opex budgets. Knowing what cloud-based resources your IT department already subscribes to, as well as understanding both the internal API programming capabilities and enterprisewide restrictions on raw and finished video content transiting the internal network, will put your media team in a much better position when it comes to negotiating and implementing a world-class EVP solution.
This article appears in the March 2017 issue of Streaming Media magazine.
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