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The Top Ten Enterprise Video Trends: Where Business Is in 2016

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McLane makes another interesting point about the content enterprises are creating. “Ironically, the issue isn’t so much having these systems and whether they’re virtual; it’s having the creatives on hand to manage and put that content to keep it fresh and interesting,” she says.

6. UGC

Many employees want to spread their knowledge across their organizations, and creating short videos themselves is often the best way to do that. Some UGC is targeted at a fairly narrow audience, but at other times, it may get views from all over a company.

“Probably 80 percent to 85 percent of our content is user-generated, and it’s engineers putting material out to train other engineers,” says Tarleton. Usually content is fairly short, and in some organizations a range of social features are being used to surface content. The content with the most likes floats to the top. The biggest concern some companies have is that staff will post inappropriate content.

“Think about your workflow. Who do you think needs approvals? We don’t require an approval workflow; we rely on our social media policy. We expect our employees to comply with that,” says Tarleton. “We’re about to introduce a feature where any user can flag suspected inappropriate content. If they think it’s something like a proprietary information risk, any user can suspend it themselves. That will send emails to the content owner and to us and to security and say, ‘We have a problem here to clear.’”

7. Accessibility

“We create a lot more content for the public than we do for ourselves, and the public audience is much larger,” says Bryan Walls, deputy program manager for the NASA Imagery Experts Program. “Most of our content is available to the public, and we can reach hundreds of thousands of people. We go out to a CDN, plus we also stream to Ustream, YouTube Live, and NASA TV satellite broadcast.

“We have a unified plan for outreach to the public, with content and standards, and we’re moving toward capability to do multicast and IPTV-type streaming that’s available to all the centers,” Walls says. Each center may be using different vendors, but they have the capability to share multicast transport streams with each other. Distribution of on-demand content tends to be more idiosyncratic, though typically NASA uses HTML5 with a Flash fallback for playback.

The one thing that is a constant in their content is closed captioning for accessibility. If you don’t design your workflow correctly, there’s a good chance you’re going to have problems with captioning. If you’re a private business, you could run into an Americans with Disabilities Act or FCC complaint. If you’re a government agency, you’re breaking the law if you’re not accessible.

“I would recommend thinking about accessibility. It’s really easy when you’re buying in to save a little bit of money by, for instance, having your encoders use an HDMI input, and then you find out, that breaks the closed captioning flow. Going back and retrofitting that is going to be very expensive,” says Walls. “Usually it comes down to having an SDI input to your encoder.”

Walls says it’s essential to ask vendors whether they support closed caption metadata in the stream, and if they are able to support captioning from whatever the sources are all the way to the player.

8. Video-on-Demand (VOD)

“The main properties that I work with are Microsoft Virtual Academy, which is a whole lot of on-demand video, and probably once a month or so we actually do a live stream as well,” says Calder. “There are people streaming all over Microsoft. We just happen to be the team that’s focused on more traditional training and certification-type content.”

Microsoft Virtual Academy has a catalog of about 2,000 courses lasting 1–8 hours in length. Three years ago, Calder’s group was doing day-long live streaming but found sessions were hard on both the instructors and the audience. When demos went badly, that part of the video would be unusable. Now demos are recorded in advance, and they shoot live for 2 to 3 hours. “We’re making very short modules (at about 10 minutes in length) that we can reuse in multiple places.”

“The pace of change is so fast that the shelf life of a piece of video isn’t necessarily long. The interface for Azure might change from month to month, so we might have to update a piece of the video,” he says. Microsoft Virtual Academy is using extensive metadata to identify where content is within a piece of video. However, a lot of effort still goes into video management, including manual production for bookmarking segments for viewers to find content and designing information architecture.

9. Video Quality

Enterprise video viewers might have been willing to tolerate imperfect video in the past, but today they’re more discerning. High-quality video is mission-critical. There are also additional tools available that provide real-time insights.

When a company does a large live webcast, thousands of users try to log in at once, and such traffic peaks can cause issues with web, application, and directory servers. All must be carefully load tested before any major event.

“Those are probably the two biggest technical concerns that you have, making sure that the servers are sized correctly for peak loading and making sure that you have enough bandwidth,” says Tarleton.

“We leverage multicast so we have the least amount of impact on the network, because some of our broadcasts will be a few thousand people,” says Tardiff. “The thing with streaming is it has to have the bandwidth to deliver the audio and video so that it’s watchable, and that’s the principal that never changes.”

Prudential has corporate parameters that restrict bandwidth, and Tardiff says that HD is still far off on the horizon. “We are bound by 700Kbps bitrate, so we have to make sure that both live and VOD video is under 700Kbps. In that world, the video window is a quarter frame, maybe a little bit bigger,” says Tardiff. He says many video producers who come from more traditional backgrounds have a hard time with this. In his company, the same network that is used for all other mission-critical activities is also used for video, so he expects this will be a challenge for some time to come.

10. New Ways of Working

While data caps are a challenge for higher production-value projects, for other uses they are less of an issue. “We have a VP who has 20 direct reports [who] uses streaming to specifically reach those direct reports with a 5-minute, quarterly message,” says Tardiff.

This newer use case, where video is now being used for tasks that used to be taken care of with email, is finding traction in many enterprises. “I use video for internal communications quite a bit. Instead of sending a long email once a month as a report, I will get in the studio with a couple other people and record a short 5-minute video, where I hit the highlights, then send supplemental material with that,” says Calder. “That actually works really well. I’m kind of surprised myself. I actually get better engagement, better traction from my internal audiences if I use video. The thing with the internal video is, I don’t have a team of people to publish it for me, so the self-serve tools have to get easier and easier.”

Self-serve tools are a long way from where most enterprise video started. Patty Perkins, manager of the online video team at Wells Fargo, says her company started using live video satellite broadcast to their branches many years ago. They have since gone on to a variety of uses and fully integrated video into their business for internal and external uses. She says the company is on track for $12 million annual savings in travel and production costs by having executives and other leaders use video for their messaging. Twelve million dollars is nothing to sneeze at.

If you’re a video veteran who takes these 10 trends for granted, remember that many of these best practices are slowly evolving. The change may be happening slowly, but it is happening.

[This article appears in the October 2016 issue of Streaming Media magazine as "The Top 10 Enterprise Video Trends."]

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