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Eyes on the Enterprise: YouTube for the Enterprise

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A new breed of user-friendly, video-centric sites and technologies has helped to make video as much a part of our online experience as music downloads, photo sharing, and email. Most notably, with 100 million videos viewed daily and a $1.65 billion price tag, YouTube has catapulted interest in internet video. YouTube, along with other video-based technologies including TiVo, webcams, and video-enabled handhelds, has changed the market perception of video. Consumers today are far more comfortable creating and viewing video than ever before.

The adoption of video technologies and acceptance of video as a must-have communication medium has spread from the consumer marketplace to the enterprise. More and more, users are asking for YouTube and TiVo-like capabilities at work. Now IT departments are asking how they can best respond to this market trend and what is required to support video in the enterprise.

Democratized Video Creation
The desire to make video capabilities available to all in the enterprise is a noble undertaking, but "YouTube for the enterprise" is not a one-solution-fits-all proposition. A number of distinct use cases exist across user groups in the enterprise, each with its own solution requirements.

Without tailored applications for each use case, and an underlying platform to manage and distribute the various forms of video, coverage holes may emerge and a portion of the potential creation and viewing audience will not be supported.

Achieving the Web 2.0 vision of a democratized, participatory community where anyone in the enterprise can create and view video content in support of their job function is a concept gaining traction in both IT and functional departments. According to a recent report by Forrester Research, "Firms using Web 2.0 technologies are driven by gains in worker efficiency and a fear of competitive pressures." Consequently, businesses are beginning to incorporate the underlying technologies, platforms, and concepts into their IT departments and lines of business.

A recent McKinsey & Company survey found that more than three-quarters of executives who responded said they plan to maintain or increase their investments in technology trends that encourage user collaboration, such as peer-to-peer networking, social networks, and web-based services. Additionally, more than half said they are pleased with their past internet investments, though some regret not boosting their own capabilities to exploit technology. More executives said they should have acted faster rather than slower.

In a follow-up discussion, respondents describe how these innovations are creating a new way of bringing technology into businesses—a method that is easier to implement and more flexible than traditional top-down approaches.

The data McKinsey provides from business leaders indicates that the interest, credibility, and relevance of new, collaborative technologies are all rapidly increasing in the eyes of C-suite decision makers. The push to increase the volume and speed of information flow at all levels of the enterprise, coupled with the pull from the user population to embrace technologies from the consumer marketplace, has created a perfect storm for rapid adoption of video technologies in the enterprise.

Consumer vs. Corporate—How is Video Different?
Typically, consumer video websites process video files in a fairly straightforward fashion: A user uploads a video file, the file is transcoded to a common format (Flash, for example), and then, when a viewer clicks on a link to view a program, the content is progressively downloaded to the viewer. In most cases, video is viewed on-demand as opposed to being streamed live, and it is accessed by individuals one at a time with limited or no interactivity between the creator and viewer. Additionally, in the consumer marketplace, video is distributed over the public internet with minimal concern for publishing control and content security.

In the enterprise environment, requirements for live and on-demand video are significantly more robust. Companies require live streaming and on-demand video applications that are highly scalable and secure. A video program will typically include synchronized slides or other desktop content and also may be bundled with static downloadable content (documents, PDFs, etc.) as well. Video must be distributed over private corporate networks and connect to a company’s existing infrastructure, including its video conferencing systems, encoders, streaming servers, and content delivery networks as well as other hardware- or software-based components. Live video events must scale to large audiences viewing the stream simultaneously, and typically require interactivity with the audience in the form of polling or Q&A functionality. Video events that are published for on-demand playback must also be securely accessed, often via an organization’s existing portal infrastructure, and must be removed from the network and access portal when the event has expired.

Further, it is imperative that all content be stored in a secure archive over time and that it adhere to corporate regulatory requirements and compliance standards. As asserted by the analyst firm Frost & Sullivan in its recent "Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Video Communications" white paper, " . . . video content is one of the most sensitive ‘content types’: It is highly attributable, as the creator or presenter is directly linked to the message and content they are delivering. As a result, the ability to detect and capture video assets that are being created across the enterprise, track and report video event viewership, and archive and delete expired video assets in an organized fashion are critical requirements for companies actively managing corporate governance and compliance."

Riding the "YouTube for the Enterprise" Wave
Organizations desiring to embrace YouTube for the enterprise must respond to demand from the user audience for widespread video creation and viewing capabilities, while they also work to ensure that those events are created, managed, and distributed in a scalable and secure fashion. The wave of video use in the enterprise has already begun and will continue to rise. To realize the full potential of YouTube for the enterprise, it is imperative that IT and business leaders get ahead of the adoption curve and make the appropriate proactive, strategic investments. Organizations must consider the options: Either get out in front of the video wave and ride it effectively, or have it leave you behind.

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