Forging the Streams
Streaming media gives employers a whole new dimension in the way they can present the company both internally and externally. This is in part due to the advances made in the technology available to the average computer user.
“In the past, if you had a one-hour video, it had to be downloaded to your computer,” explains Sebastian Grady, COO of Altus Learning Systems. “It would be a huge file and you’d have to store it on some other different media. It was difficult to watch because old graphic cards were awful.” Today, most media use advanced graphic cards, and video quality has improved immensely, while file sizes have gotten less daunting. Media players allow for easy streaming. Plus, computers are now built for heavier media usage. “In addition, thanks to improved bandwidth, information is easier to stream now.”
To make streaming communications more accessible to a wider group of users, Altus is leveraging users’ familiarity with a Microsoft Office tool. “Everybody uses PowerPoint,” says Grady, so his company is using the idea behind PowerPoint and applying it to video and audio.
The company is also making streaming content more “findable” in the process. The average corporate-related video is 45 minutes long, Grady explains. “Nobody wants to sit though a long video from beginning to end when all you need to find is a single quote.” Thus, Altus digitally records the speech, and then creates a data search on words and phrases used, like each slide on a PowerPoint presentation.
This technology is important, Grady says, because consumers don’t want to invest the time to watch a long video. “YouTube videos are very short, no more than a couple of minutes,” he says. “But if you make a business video interactive and can speed up the process, you make it more attractive to customers.”
Having the streaming version of a speech available on a server allows it to be made available in other presentation forms, Grady adds. “You can take PowerPoint slides and turn them into another more interesting media presentation. You can have an RSS feed so your clients know when you have new information up. You can create an audio for iTunes and have it in your iPod in ten minutes. You can download it to your PC to watch offline at your convenience. It’s instant access.”
At ON24, banner ads are created that, when clicked, will either have a countdown to a live presentation or will have a taped presentation for upload. The viewer can make the choice on when to watch.
The real power behind streaming video is its global reach. The audience can be anywhere, in any time zone, at any hour of the day, and can have access to the information. Corporations can now provide training videos to employees to complete at their convenience. It also allows businesses to have more interaction with consumers.
“Lonely Planet wanted to create a way to make more information available to its consumers, but also involve information from the consumer,” says Francis. The company’s partnership with Reality Digital and willingness to try new technology made it happen. “Streaming media draws people in a different way. It keeps them at a site for a longer period of time.”
This type of partnership perhaps best demonstrates the way consumers view communication. Audiences no longer want to be passive participants. While they may not want to be the ones making news, audiences are more interested in breaking stories to the media.