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Kontiki And BT Conferencing Tackle The Enterprise

As global markets collapsed and job insecurity grew over the past 18 months many employees unsurprisingly began to feel mistrust toward senior management. This feeling was particularly acute in the banking and financial services sector where CEOs have struggled to get their message across to staff and the wider market.

With a degree of economic stability returning, companies are re-opening budgets and re-assessing their communication needs with video capability high on the agenda.

The argument goes that video will carry the CEO’s message with far greater penetration and power than voice or email substitutes. Its direct and potentially interactive nature can also re-energise a wary workforce.

"During 2008-09 business customers had no appetite for going to the bank, asking for $6 million in capital, and buying software in bulk," says Jacco van der Kooij, VP WW Sales, Kontiki. "Verbal sales agreements never materialized. It was a challenge. So we had to devise an alternative plan to take our solution to market."

Instead of a multi-million dollar purchase Kontiki, began to offer its live and video on demand tools as SaaS to the internal communications departments of enterprise-level corporations.

Clients pay an installation fee ($10,000 up to $25,000) and are then charged per minute of use ($0.09) or per delivery of a video ($0.39).

Crucially it signed a global reseller agreement with BT Conferencing, part of the UK-based telco BT Group, to unify BT’s audio, video conferencing, and web collaboration portfolio with Kontiki’s video streaming services to form a single communications platform.

From having less than a dozen deals on its books a year ago, Kontiki is now juggling more than 60 and experiencing a 392% revenue growth year on year.

Kontiki’s P2P content delivery technology formed the backbone to the VOD launches of BBC iPlayer, 4oD, and Sky Anytime (now Sky Player). It still performs that service but since being acquired by VC group MK Capital in 2008 (from VeriSign, which bought Kontiki for $62 million in 2006) it has moved away from consumer to focus squarely on B2B.

"The ecosystem today for video communication in the enterprise comprises multiple vendors for content management, portals and content delivery and also for different point applications whether a live event or on demand video," says Kontiki president and CEO Eric Armstrong, the former VP of sales, media, and entertainment at Verisign.

"Companies are looking for a single always-on utility that offers all of those capabilities."There’s a myth that high quality video delivery is expensive and complex, that it requires more bandwidth and more hardware," he explains. "It’s a myth propagated by entrenched network hardware providers but there is a way to offer high quality video as a communications tool that is not expensive and is simple to use."

Adds van der Kooij, "The tools used today for mobilization are crafted e-mails that no-one reads or understand, very expensive satellite broadcasts that have people huddle in a room as if they are watching a boxing match, but most commonly low-quality webcasts which are complicated, expensive, and frankly always seems to miss the mark in quality."

By contrast, Kontiki’s cloud-hosted Enterprise Video Platform promises global deployment in a matter of weeks, and includes complete publishing and syndication, content management and asset storage, and video encoding and transcoding services.

Van der Kooij cites an example of a CEO delivering a live video message to 8,000 attendees costing $14,400 for 20 minutes or VoD delivery of the file to the same group costing $3,120."You are not building out a massive infrastructure to achieve this," he adds. "Don’t underestimate the importance to a senior executive of simply making a decision on when to hold an event rather than on tasking the IT department with integrating and maintaining multiple audio, video, and web systems."

Customers are also attracted to the idea of applying the media as a two-way and social process.

"We can offer a consumer-style YouTube for the enterprise portal for employees to publish, manage and search video," says Rob Nunes, VP of marketing. "It’s about growing video use within the company not just about getting an occasional single message out to everyone but sharing a social experience around video assets and building a corporate community."

The opportunity in the finance and insurance sector alone is impressive, with 5.7m desktop seats identified worldwide. The total addressable market for manufacturing is 13.5m desktops and healthcare and pharmaceutical, the third main target sector for Kontiki/BT has 6.5m desktops.

Customers already signed include financial services groups GMAC, and PNC.Datacenter firm Equinix and telco and internet communications provider Qwest are also customers. United Technologies—which includes companies such as Sikorsky and Bell Helicopter, Otis Elevator, Pratt & Whitney and Cessna—has deployed to around 150,000 desktops and use the service for CEO/e-staff updates to all employees about once a month.

"If the message is complex or a strategic vision needs to be communicated the CEO needs to be behind the message," says Armstrong. "Many have one shot a quarter to reach their employees or share the status of the company and its goals with the market. That’s created a problem because for many companies, video-enabling their network by adding more hardware or bandwidth is not practical and still doesn’t reach beyond headquarters. We allow video to get to the edge and enable employees to feel connected to their companies."

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