What You Need To Know To Select The Right Service Provider
The Service Provider Business
Since the introduction of service providers, the models by which their services are marketed, priced and delivered has changed faster than any aspect of this business. Choosing the right service provider is still a difficult task of cutting through all the marketing hype, opinions and confusing product pitches. Outsourcing all or part of the process can leave you with more questions than answers.
- The Basics: Let’s start at the beginning. What are service providers, and what services do they really offer? The term "service provider" is pretty generic these days. Service providers come in many forms and sizes and can provide many pieces of the total solution, or they can specialize in just one aspect of the streaming media process. For instance, some service providers may focus on just the encoding process or just the hosting aspect. Other service providers will offer many pieces of the process, and almost every service provider works with partners to offer every possible solution you may require.
- How The Service Provider Business Has Evolved: Over the past 18 months, the service provider space has drastically shrunk and consolidated. Many providers whose business models consisted of charging below-cost for services just to gain market share have gone out of business or have been acquired by other providers. At my last count, more than 35 providers have been acquired or have closed their doors in the past 18 months. Many providers have adjusted their business models and are now focused on profit and loss. Because of this, pricing models for their services continue to evolve as the providers fine-tune their models, making it difficult for corporations to compare prices and services from one provider to another.
- Why The Confusion? Most service providers don’t make this easy to understand in layman’s terms for the end user purchasing the services. Many service providers seem to think that, if they keep this technology confusing and make it sound more complicated than it is, you will be willing to stay un-educated and therefore always trust what they say. What they don’t understand — because they are short-sighted — is that the more they educate the customer and show the value of the technology and a viable way to measure the return on investment, the more the client will utilize it. Not all service providers are this way, but many still are, and the model by which they sell these services is changing everyday. Only 48 months ago, clients thought they needed tens of thousands of streams when it came to live webcasting (which we cover later in the article), yet now they have been educated to the point that their expectations are more in line with reality. Most of this is not because service providers educate the client, but because the clients educate themselves and take the time to understand the advantages these applications offer.
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