The Future Will Be Televised
The fact is that it is going to get even harder, which is why rich media content management and delivery firms will proliferate before they shake out. Enterprise multimedia is still a young art with many unresolved issues begging for technical and managerial solutions. Complex presentations result in different files for audio, video slides, and relevant documents, which only makes a tough content management job tougher. Ultimately, says Welch, we will need to "consolidate on a single file format where the collaborative and video objects are in a single file with a digital signature for authentication and auditing." Tagging and searching multimedia files is far from standard, which is why powerhouses like Google and Yahoo! are developing video search technologies so aggressively. Both companies know too well that both enterprise and consumer sectors are starting to treat multimedia as they once did paper, as necessary pieces we all want to search and access on demand.
Now these problems need to be solved for a wider swathe of corporate customers. Enormous companies like Cisco and Citigroup have leveraged multimedia for years, but now video quality, affordability, and the ease of using rich media are attracting a new tier. "Pretty much every Fortune 500 company has a [video] studio today," says Bacon. "What is interesting is the growth of these cases." While outsourcing video and Web conferencing was commonplace in the last decade, many companies want to bring these processes in-house to gain control over security, costs, and the timing of media creation.
Eventually, the enterprise technologies of conferencing, streaming, and collaboration will merge, Welch expects. "The special functions of video conference rooms will become mini broadcast studios." And yes, the enterprise does begin to generate its own media channel. "It all fits into the corporate TV experience at the desktop," says Bill Glazier, VP of marketing at Media Publisher, Inc. "It's not satellite feeds where you go to the lunchroom and it's played on a TV, but the same model to every desktop. You get news and business information as part of the corporate portal—today's live event floating on the portal for everyone to talk about."
Corporations as cable channels? It's inevitable. Ultimately, rich media creation will continue to grow in the enterprise because we are now in a digital video culture where multimedia is how we communicate and absorb information best. Many in the rich media industry say that employees themselves are bringing to the cubicle expectation for the same quality, on demand multimedia information they experience with their digital TV, MP3 jukebox, and at-home broadband and video on-demand services. Fast, focused, visual. "Consumers and people at home have more advanced rich media tools than the average enterprise," says Woodward. "They walk in and say ‘where's my Tivo, my channel guide, my record button?'" And the reality of the post-literate age is that if you want your people to focus on the company message as intently as they do a beer ad, then you had better look more like "CNN Presents" than Jed from accounting streamed live to the lunchroom . . . at his whiteboard . . . with a magic marker . . . for an hour.
Companies Featured in This Article
Cisco Systems www.cisco.com
Media Publisher, Inc. www.media-publisher.com
Reflect Systems www.reflectsystems.com
Wainhouse Research www.wainhouse.com