Go with the Flow: Navigating Streaming Communication

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Two-way Streams
News sites have long been leaders in providing streaming communication in the form of breaking news videos. Today, as Lorincz says, “user-generated content is becoming a bigger part of the market,” much of it in the form of streamed video. “If there is breaking news, the information has to be produced.” In the past, it was produced by professionals. Today, anyone with a camera and access to the internet can share breaking news. “It’s still all about creating compelling content and knowing who your audience is.”

Francis sees two emerging niches for streaming communications: “Companies want a tie-in that allows viewers to upload content,” she says. “It can be advertising or whatever broadens the company’s reach.” The second niche is social communication. People, she says, are beginning to communicate more via streaming media clients.

Grady agrees. “Streaming communication is consumer-driven.” He adds that business enterprises have been slow to get into the streaming market and are doing so now because it is what the consumer wants. “Consumers want instant access. They want information turned around in twenty-four hours.”

Additionally, it is time for businesses to recognize that the future of the workforce will be changing. “Kids coming out of college today want top-of-the-line technology in everything they do,” Grady adds. This millennial workforce may be bringing new technology into their jobs, but they also use that same technology in their everyday lives, from the way they use entertainment to buying their first new car.

Because of the changing face and attitudes of consumers, businesses that provide streaming communication have to think about the future.

“We have to think a lot about mobile technology,” says Francis. “How do you stream to handheld devices, and what is the ability to stream from them? We have to approach streaming communication in unique ways.”

Kaplan sees innovation in the next wave of media players. One such technology, Silverlight, has qualities similar to Adobe’s Flash, but has Microsoft programming language, making it more user-friendly for designers and users so it can be manipulated in ways Flash cannot be now.

Before we focus completely on what happens next, Navin of BitTorrent believes the infrastructure of streaming communication is expensive and out of reach for many potential users. Using a company like BitTorrent can help with cost reduction. Even so, reducing the cost of the infrastructure will likely bring more people on board. “Everyone needs to embrace this way of communication,” Navin says.

The bottom line, Francis believes, is making sure you are always engaging the end user. “The users don’t care what you call it or what it is,” she says. They simply want an end result that delivers the message in the highest quality available.

Ultimately, “Streaming is anything you want, anywhere you want,” says Origin Digital's Lorincz. “A consumer has many choices. Today, you can open the whole world to your message.” The trick, of course, will be finding the most effective path to deliver it.

Sidebar: Behind the Streams

Internap provides a global network for both IPs and content delivery. “It’s an interactive application” that is powered by a global network comprised of 44 service points. The company provides a linear broadcasting channel and content feed, which can be customized for viewers, particularly of niche audiences.”

ON24 began as a financial news service. To provide information to clients, the company had to come up with ways to make sure the technology could stream without being choppy or frequently buffering. In doing so, the company changed its business to provide opportunities like online town-hall meetings and webinars, many of which are interactive. “Businesses today want to add audio and video into their enterprise. They want to provide something more than a white paper or document.”

Businesses like ON24 and Origin Digital are part of the backbone of today’s streaming media. These companies provide clients with servers and storage, not to mention the enabling technologies to create instant information for consumers and employees.

Companies Featured in This Article

Altus Learning Systems www.altuslearning.com
BitTorrent www.bittorrent.com
Internap www.internap.com
ON24 www.on24.com
Origin Digital www.origindigital.com
Reality Digital www.realitydigital.com

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