For way too long, organizations have had to settle for poor quality live webcasting experiences. The fault lies in the success of web conferencing services, like WebEx and GoToMeeting, which are great for small-team collaboration and screen sharing but terrible for streaming live webcasts to global audiences in the thousands; it’s just not what they were designed to do. Some organizations have used third-party webcasting services, which also work well for some locations, but completely fail in locations without enough bandwidth.
The fact is that organizations don’t have to settle for poor streaming video solutions: they just need to find the right tool for the job and – best yet – they actually already have most of what they need to begin sharing top-quality, TV-like broadcasts that reach every employee, regardless of where they are or what device they are using.
In this guide, we’ll tell you how and why streaming services fail in the enterprise, and how your organization can deploy, manage and operate your own webcasting platform that not only delivers starkly better quality, but is also exponentially cheaper.
Why Do Web-based Streaming Services Deliver Such a Mediocre Experience in the Enterprise?
We’ve all been through one of those CEO Town Halls, where everyone logs in to an online service expecting to see a broadcast from the executive about organizational goals and performance. Instead, here’s what the average user experiences:
- Audio from the executive, coming through PC speakers, and slides on the screen
– or –
- Postage-stamp size, grainy video of our executive with slides on the screen – or –
- constantly buffering video of our executive whose image and audio are not in sync with the slides being presented – or –
- Just audio, because the screen sharing isn’t appearing – or –
- Inability to get into the event, despite several tries – or –
- Calling in to get the audio from the telephone bridge – or –
- Bailing out and hoping there’s a recording later.
The fact is: it doesn’t have to be this way! Your organization already runs its business using a sophisticated, global communications network. Your organization probably already has made a significant investment in premier-quality video technologies – from video conferencing systems to full-fledged studios. Your organization has world-class IT and communications staff. Would you be surprised to hear that you already have almost everything you need to deliver an HD-quality live webcast to every employee across the world, whether they’re watching on lobby displays, PCs, tablets or mobile phones? Your CEO wouldn’t be surprised, and we’ll bet he’s asked you why the heck he can’t deliver a decent webcast when his kids can live stream a concert from their mobile phone. Here’s the piece that’s missing, and that your service providers don’t want you to know.
They don’t consider your network
Since they are just internet streaming services, like YouTube or other consumer sites, they leave the network connection and distribution challenges to the end user. In the enterprise during a work day, this can have catastrophic consequences when each employee is trying to pull down a unicast stream from the internet; there’s only so much bandwidth.
When large numbers of viewers try to access a streaming service from a corporate network, each one creates an individual video stream which rapidly swamps bandwidth at that location.
They don’t let you use broadcast-quality video sources
In video production, everyone knows the phrase “garbage in, garbage out.” Since your service provider only has limited capacity to serve a huge number of users, they cap the size of your video format and they cap the amount of bandwidth available to you. So they are probably forcing you to use a webcam – instead of your gorgeous telepresence system or broadcast-caliber camera. As a consequence, your CEO starts out looking bad, and gets worse via basic, low bitrate compression.
They define your video communications workflows and management
No one wants to be constrained by a one size fits all system that doesn’t allow you the flexibility to use the workflows and management features that work best for your organization’s specific needs. You need a system that will provide you the ability to control your video process from capture and storage, to setting user access and permissions, managing your delivery devices, and video publishing and distribution.
They charge you more, the more you use
Your goal is to unleash the power of video within your organization to share consistent messaging and to enhance collaboration without limits. So who wants to be punished for doing more with video? Your CEO might want to address the entire organization once a quarter, but you have departments within the organization that should be able to leverage the same investment to reach distributed work forces every day, anytime.
How Do You Get An Amazing Live Video Webcasting Experience in the Enterprise?
You use your own network, your own video sources, and your own video management platform to deliver pristine-quality communications, securely and cost effectively, to any employee anywhere anytime. Here are the key components:
Gorgeous, consumer-grade interface that delights your employees
Everything you need to manage your live streaming events and video-on-demand assets should be at the tip of your fingers in a single integrated portal. Ease of use is essential for adoption of a video initiative so your service should offer a simple, intuitive user interface that enables users and administrators to have browser based access to all their video and media assets. The interface should have a slick modern and responsive design that adapts easily to any device from laptop to mobile phone or tablet so any user can view the video on whatever device they are using, wherever they are.
Self-service live webcasting
Usually one of the most important drivers for having a video management system is the CEO’s need to host live, company-wide webcasts or, ‘Town Halls.’ Live webcasts are the most complex and error-prone applications for enterprise video – so when you’re evaluating your options, look for a platform that specializes in live webcasting across private corporate networks.
Look for workflows that enable self-service webcasting, including presentation profiles that automate event scheduling, reserving required network and encoding resources, and the ability to invite attendees by Active Directory groups. Step into the shows of your presenters and make sure that their interface is intuitive and easy to use. Executives expect to interact during live events, so make sure that chat, Q&A and polls are all available in your webcasts.
An added bonus is using your same video management platform to also host your website videos. This powerful combination makes it much easier to manage and distribute videos for internal and external audiences and also lets organizations significantly reduce third-party video hosting provider costs.
You’ll also want to make sure that the right people can easily find the right video assets when they need them, so your video management system needs to fully index metadata from your videos so your users can easily search for, and replay, the webcasts they were unable to attend or want to review.
Video management capabilities so you control your assets
The portal should be your centralized control center from which you are able to manage all aspects of your webcasting, whether live streaming or video-on-demand (VOD).
Knowing that your video use is going to take off, you’ll want to be sure that you can manage even huge libraries of video assets with flexible workflow management features – like multi-level user access and permissions by individual videos or collections of videos, and easy ways for your employees to contribute – and admins to review and approve – user-generated content.
Social media and collaboration features are must-haves in the modern video management platform, so you’ll want to make sure that viewers can rate, share and comment about videos, and that all (or none) of these capabilities can also be controlled on a per-video basis. You’ll also want your viewers to be able to create playlists, and to be able to download supplemental information, like presentations or documents.
On the backend, your management platform needs to provide powerful transcoding capabilities that don’t require you to be an expert in video encoding. Look for solutions that offer simple language transcoding profiles (like “Apple devices”). You’ll also want detailed reporting and analytics so that you, and your management, understand who is watching live and on-demand videos, which videos are the most widely viewed and shared, and viewer characteristics (like devices and browsers).
Enterprise content delivery network (eCDN)
Efficient network distribution is one of the most critical challenges you will need to address to ensure a high-quality live streaming event goes off without any technical glitches. Implementing an eCDN within your organization will enable video to be delivered to mass, globally distributed audiences on multiple device types without overwhelming your company’s wide area network. Historically, enterprise video solutions have taken a unicast/single server approach to video distribution where each individual viewer requires their own unicast connection and bandwidth. This design may suffice when a few users access video-on-demand assets, but it can’t scale to meet the crushing demands of a live webcast for thousands of simultaneous participants. The user authentication process alone places exceptional stress on the corporate network, resulting often in only a fraction of participants able to join the webcast. Multicasting provides a better, more reliable and scalable option for allowing unlimited participants to simultaneously access the live webcast stream.
An eCDN uses intelligent routing technology to match end user information – including the user’s location and viewing permissions – with an intelligent media server that routes and relays video content to the network’s edge closest to the user ensuring optimal bandwidth use. This technology also intelligently provides media redistribution – either unicast or multicast – media transmuxing (changes format), and media transrating (changes bitrate) and the serving and storage of video-on-demand.
You wouldn’t settle for providing “ok” service to your customers, so why are you settling for a sub-par video webcasting experience for your employees? By leveraging the assets you already have in your communications network and your video conferencing equipment, the VBrick Rev enterprise video platform can enable you to deliver HD-quality, impressive webcasts to an unlimited number of viewers, wherever they are and on whatever device they are using. Beyond large webcasts, you can use the same solution to unleash the power of video throughout all functional areas within your organization to instill a culture of innovative communication and collaboration. You can push video out to your digital signage systems, integrate with your video conferencing sources and other web conferencing services. The use of video is exploding all around us – so don’t settle for less when so much more is at your fingertips.
About Amy and VBrick
Amy leads Product Marketing at VBrick – the pioneer in next-generation enterprise video through its Rev® cloud-native platform. By converting video into bandwidth-efficient streams, Rev allows organizations to use their own networks to securely share video with thousands of online viewers, centrally integrate unified communications and other video sources, and deliver a consumer-grade experience for employees.