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Rating Online Video: How Major Corporations See the Industry

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Call it online video; call it streaming media. Whatever the term, major corporations are embracing this technology, and they are rapidly expanding their online video deployments to exploit its possibilities.

“Video is very much the current idiom of the workplace,” says Greg Pulier, president of MediaPlatform, a company that provides webcasting and media management technology to global enterprises. “Turning on a webcam and streaming your moving image is becoming as natural as dialing the phone in the office today,” Pulier remarks. “Video streaming can be challenging in a large enterprise, but luckily for everyone, there are new solutions, such as multicast fusion on the Adobe Flash Platform, which enable breakthroughs in network efficiency for video.”

“Our clients achieve productivity, information/ knowledge transfer and travel cost savings by using online video for communications and training that would otherwise be done in person,” adds Darian Germain, vice president of marketing with Polycom Video Content Management (formerly Accordent), which provides enterprise video management platforms that are employed by Fortune 500 companies and other large organizations. “These firms typically use Windows Media and use our software for internal CXO Webcasts, online training, and distance learning,” says Germain.

So what do major corporations think of online video? How do they rate its performance, and what more would they like to see it deliver? To find out, Streaming Media spoke with employees from Ernst & Young, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, and Wells Fargo.

How They’re Using Online Video

Professional services organization Ernst & Young (E&Y) has offices all over the globe and has been webcasting for the last 12 years to communicate both internally and externally. Today, E&Y produces more than 400 live webcasts a year for audiences ranging in size from 500 to 10,000 people. “We love it,” says Joan Dollard-Spooner, the company’s associate director of Thought Center Webcasts, the firm’s “external-facing” live webcasts. “We’ve found that this is a great tool for communication, learning, and training.”

Webcasting at E&Y originally began with slides on the web and conference calls, moving quickly to streaming audio/slides and then video. “But we don’t only use it in-house: We see streaming media as a way to showcase E&Y’s leadership on current topics while raising awareness of the company’s services and capabilities,” Dollard-Spooner says. “In fact, our external-facing webcasts constitute more than one-third of the total volume of webcasts produced by Ernst & Young. In addition, we have incorporated on-demand video across all of our intranet and internet portals.”

Lockheed Martin has four separate business units that employ streaming media. “In general, the corporation uses online video for ‘all hands on deck’-type business meetings, executive briefings, program briefings, and training,” says Eric Hards, manager of web, media graphics, and streaming in Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Co. “We also do webcasts when we have special speakers in to speak to a group. We negotiate with them to record and then distribute their talk using online video internally.”

Inside Microsoft, audio/video presentations are produced by the aptly named Microsoft Studios department. It employs online video to deliver live and on-demand keynotes, product launches, training events, and team meetings to both internal and external audiences.

“Content ranges from a person and [his or her] PowerPoint presentation/ computer demo sitting on camera in our studio and talking through [the] material to a very high-quality video production with on-air talent and multiple guests to very large-scale productions originating in convention centers in support of keynotes or product launches,” says Travis Petershagen, Microsoft’s digital media services manager. “The production varies from low-end (simple and low-cost) to high-end (complex and higher-cost) depending on the material and audience expectations.” Audiences range in size from fewer than 50 for a “niche team event” to more than “50,000 simultaneous viewers for a newsworthy event, product launch, or executive keynote,” he says.

In contrast, “Wells Fargo uses very little streaming media,” says Patty Perkins, team leader of Wells Fargo creative services technology department. Currently, “We deliver a 5-minute daily show called ‘Take Five’ that’s available to all 280,000 team members as well as a specific line of business programming,” she says. “We are exploring the capabilities to stream meetings to audiences under 200 participants using multicast. Our live broadcast channel to the enterprise is carried on satellite.”

How They Stream It

Ninety-five percent of E&Y’s webcasts are done live. Between 70% and 75% are composed of audio/slides, and the remainder are video. The company’s Thought Center Webcast events are live, produced in various third-party production studios around the globe.

“Our goal is to achieve a CNN-style webcast, hosted by a moderator and featuring E&Y panelists and external subject matter specialists,” Dollard- Spooner says. “These are very professional events, originating from one location and occasionally bringing in video feeds from other locations, like London. But the video is only one element, and we are also very focused on engaging the audience by including polling questions and taking live questions from the audience.”

E&Y has built an encoding center and is multicast-enabled in the U.S., but it relies on external vendors for the platform support and content distribution. “We do have our own custom-built reporting and content management system,” Dollard-Spooner says. “Metrics and content-sharing are critical to the success.”

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