It seems like not so long ago, you were considered behind the times if you didn't have ecommerce capabilities on your company website. These days, consumers increasingly expect social interaction around your information and products. Customers expect to have experiences with your company site that mirror those they have on consumer shopping sites and the social web. Considering the growing popularity of streaming video, you may soon find yourself trailing behind your competitors if you don't provide video content on your site as well.
The expectation of professional interactions to be more like those on the open web extends inside the enterprise as well. If you don't use video inside your organization or institution
for company meetings, corporate communication, or training purposes, you're missing out on a powerful tool that enables users to connect and collaborate in a manner rivaled only by true face-to-face interaction.
"When video is done right, it's simply more effective than any other form of communication. A picture is worth a thousand words," says Jan Ozer, editor of Streaming Learning Center and a streaming consultant. "Part of it is because you're seeing as well as hearing."
There's little doubt that the increased expectation of video content is due in part to the popularity of YouTube in people's personal lives. They see how easy it is to record, upload, and view video content on the desktop. We also see increased consumption of entertainment content via sites like Hulu and Netflix. Without a doubt, video is fast becoming one of the most popular channels of web-enabled entertainment and communication available via the desktop and mobile device. It's enjoyable and extremely versatile, so organizations are starting to use it for everything from internal company meetings to external marketing promotions. "A lot of people are using video because they want to show the personality behind the message," says Ozer.
The type of video being used ranges from webcam applications that enable organizations to conduct real-time "face-to-face" meetings and promotional videos that can be viewed on demand by potential customers to streaming video (that often contains how-to content) that can be shown live or archived for later use. "People are shooting a lot of [content] that's happening live-two people talking, an interview, a training session and they're putting that on the web," says Ozer. "They're capturing [content] that you couldn't transfer before now. It would happen in a room and anybody in the room could see it. Now, with video, anyone around the world, can see it live or on demand or both. The live component is one of the strongest trends we've seen this year."
Many Business Challenges, Many Video Options
Why is there so much attention on computer-based video applications these days? Experts say organizations are starting to recognize that video can be used throughout the enterprise to solvea wide range of business challenges.Still, leveraging a new communications channel will raise challenges of its own.
Many organizations opt to test drive video with a specific business challenge. If that is successful, they will implement video capabilities in other parts of their business. "People tend to come to us with an idea in mind," says Andy Howard, director of marketing for VBrick, an enterprise IP video solutions provider. "It's usually one application and then the wheels start turning."
Tom Toperczer, vice president of video conference service provider Nefsis, says customer relationships with his company begin in the same way. He adds that it used to take several months to transition potential customers from trial to purchase. The sales cycle is much shorter these days. "You have to prove the concept both technically and from a value perspective," says Ozer. And that is exactly what is happening.