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The State of Enterprise Video 2022

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When the pandemic ends, what will change? In the 2021 Sourcebook article "The State of Enterprise Video," I said that things may look a bit different in the enterprise video platform (EVP) space when companies begin to open up their offices and ask workers to return. I noted, "Even when enterprise work habits return to normal, meaning more employees are working from a corporate facility than are working from home, one key lesson the pandemic will have taught managers—including executive, IT, communications, and enterprise video—is that the old paradigm of a few 'road warriors' needing to connect to corporate live-streaming events via the VPN is no longer valid. And if we get anywhere close to half of employees working from home on a consistent basis, the economics of a VPN aren't really viable."

In hindsight, that statement about "half of employees working from home" was ludicrous, as the real number of enterprise professionals working from home was in the high 70% range across the U.S. and Europe in January 2022. But it drives home the point that IT departments will need to look beyond VPN access for a select few and instead rely on encryption and per-asset authentication solutions for this "higher quality and more engaging video content" that the Socialive survey refers to.

This means there's even more need to formulate a concerted effort to push enterprise on-demand media assets to secure storage repositories outside the corporate firewall. And it also means that the "sandboxing" approach of non-video-based IT architecture from a few years back, during the outset of the BYOD movement, will continue to gain more relevance as professionals opt to use their own technology devices while waiting for an enterprise IT department to catch up on what's now likely at least a 3-year-old corporate computer sitting on their home-office desk.

What to Look for in an Enterprise Video Platform

With all of the previously mentioned employee-first details in mind, I'll spend the rest of the article stepping through a few key points to consider when looking for an EVP.

For video on demand (VOD), a key consideration for a pandemic-proof EVP is the ability to upload and manage video assets from corporate and personal devices alike, both inside and outside the corporate firewall. While an employee may be issued a desktop or laptop computer, the likelihood of a corporate mobile smartphone or tablet is less likely. Yet that's the first device we all reach for as consumers, whether we're recording TikTok, Snapchat, or Facebook Live snippets for consumption by friends and family. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise to corporate IT departments that these same personal devices will be called into service when an employee is posting a subject-
matter expert (SME) video for corporate consumption.

Another consideration is how on-demand media assets are integrated into other internal communications channels. After all, enterprise content doesn't live in a single-use vacuum, and an engaging video from a knowledgeable SME might just find its way into a module used for online training of new or existing staff.

However, since some content created by SMEs may be intended only for an internal audience, not the wider customer base, a third consideration is privacy, both of an employee's personal details (which may be embedded into metadata of images or videos recorded from a personal smartphone) and privacy and encryption measures applied to the video asset itself.

In the middle ground between VOD assets and live enterprise streaming, the latter of which I'll close out the article talking about, is the area of media consumption, measurement, and customization of key components of an EVP. Enterprises that use video to engage key external stakeholders, such as investors and customers, would do well to think about ways to measure engagement alongside the standard metrics that most EVPs provide for general content consumption. Depending on the latency of live streaming, for instance, engagement can be measured by real-time polling, chat, or even audio and video responses from external stakeholders during hybrid online live events.

But even more than the two-way feedback from real-time streaming—which is covered at length in "The State of Real-Time Streaming"—most EVPs rise or fall on the strength of their application programming interfaces (APIs), which allow an enterprise customer to tailor the EVP to specific workflows within the organization. In addition, as mentioned in an earlier comment about VPNs, the better EVP solutions these days have an ability to distribute both VOD and live streams equally well across internal networks and extranets.

Some of this is handled by cloud-based OVPs or even secure store-and-forward shared cloud-based storage buckets (such as Box, Dropbox, or AWS). Just as with an enterprise content delivery network (eCDN), the use of external, cloud-based solutions should balance privacy, speed of access, and overall encryption or security measures.

The final part of this middle ground between VOD and live enterprise streaming is analytics. Without measurements and statistics, what will the consulting firm be able to use to confirm whether engagement has occurred? I'm just kidding, but only sort of.

The good news is that many EVPs have beefed up their analytics capabilities, some as part of the growth curve encountered during the pandemic and others because an OVP's media and entertainment clients requested these measurement gauges as part of OTT service offerings that were enhanced prior to the pandemic—and those analytics have now trickled down into the OVP's enterprise offerings.

Earlier in the article, I mentioned "State of Enterprise Video Trends 2021." This survey gave the Streaming Media and Help Me Stream teams a chance to ask a key series of questions around enterprise video in a time period when it seemed all was returning to business as usual. As a result, respondents were fairly candid on their assessments of online video meetings, and a number of the responses mirrored what I've shared from the other two surveys cited in the first half of the article. One area that stood out was how frustrated respondents were with presentations that "talked at" rather than engaged them.

What the respondents also shared, however, was that this lack of engagement shifted the way they wanted to consume work content, whether from an internal meeting or from a professional industry event or trade show. For instance, a number of respondents told us that if they had known a particular webinar would not allow enough time for a robust Q&A session, they would have chosen not to watch live and instead would have viewed the content later so that they could skip to the pertinent points.

In the same vein, respondents who were not quite as familiar with the subject matter of an internal corporate meeting or an external professional development event were more likely to choose to skip the actual live event and instead take up to 50% more time to watch and rewatch particular sections of the on-demand version of the video as part of the learning process. That's not something they could do at a live in-person event, short of speedily taking notes or recording the session, the latter of which has traditionally been banned at industry trade events.

Another key finding was that the respondents noted they use a much smaller pool of devices to consume enterprise video compared to devices they use in their personal time as entertainment media consumers. For instance, while gaming consoles are used by up to 10% of respondents to watch media content, barely 1% of these same respondents said they use gaming consoles to consume work or professional development content. The same was true for smart TVs and even mobile tablets.

This limited device scenario is perhaps a bit of good news for EVPs that are looking to enhance the engagement factor of their enterprise offerings. With fewer device categories on which to deliver enterprise content, these EVPs can focus their efforts on real-time delivery and real-time feedback at scale.

Respondents also shared a high level of frustration with the need to be proficient in multiple online webcasting or web conferencing tools. We at Help Me Stream have experienced this firsthand, working with numerous streaming companies to validate their product or service offerings. While half of the firms we speak to on a Tuesday might use Zoom, with some Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Webex sessions that day, it could be completely opposite on Thursday, as different organizations standardize on different web conferencing platforms.

The sponsor of the survey, OpenExchange, is laser-focused on providing enterprise customers with the ability to use the web conferencing platform they prefer, employing the OpenExchange platform to convert between participants on multiple platforms on-the-fly. This interoperability-as-a-service offering is much less prevalent than one would think, which is why Open­Exchange has found a niche with financial services and general enterprise customers. Other EVPs would be loath to ignore the pent-up demand for interoperability that could very well keep survey respondents from engaging in the hybrid events that every EVP is now engineering its platform to host.

Hybrid Events FTW

As I wrap up this year's look at enterprise video, let's talk about the hybrid event space. It's the one constant that we're all going to see going into 2023. After all, if large events like NAB 2021 and IBC 2021 (both canceled) or even CES 2022—which had, according to the Consumer Technology Association, around 40,000 attendees compared to 175,000 at the last live CES in 2020—are any indication, massive global enterprise events are going to be refining the hybrid model for at least the next 2 years. Even when we get back to half the attendance levels of the pre-COVID era, those who cannot—or choose not to—travel internationally will still expect to be included as more than an afterthought during hybrid events.

Hybrid is also the topic for which we receive the highest number of press releases. "Hybrid" may be a popular buzzword, but until enterprises understand the technical capabilities of the newly enhanced hybrid EVP platforms, they run the risk of having more and more potential customers disengage from the live events and live streams. While the VOD approach isn't necessarily bad, it certainly takes the wind out of customer-facing engagements that have become the hallmark of professional development events and trade shows over the past decade.

[Editor's note: This article first appeared in the 2022 Streaming Media Industry Sourcebook] 

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