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Video communications is moving beyond conferencing and morphing into other forms. Businesses can now embed video into business applications to streamline workflows. Quick video chats are also possible through messaging services. And live video streaming is spilling into business communications.
Live streaming services transmit media content in real time from one point to many points. This broadcast-style distribution enables businesses to conduct large corporate meetings and employee training videos.
Live streaming videos can also be recorded and viewed later on demand in a company's video library. Employees can also record and share their own videos. And like other video services, streaming can reap ROI by curbing travel costs and allowing remote co-workers to connect via online video.
In addition, live streaming services can reach vast audiences and provide presenters with meeting controls. In a live stream, presenters can be heard and seen, while audience members cannot, although they have access to moderated, text-based chat. These tight controls help manage an event as participants are not talking over each other, an especially handy benefit when companies host large-scale events with thousands of attendees.
Streaming entwined with UC stack
Streaming serves as an extension of a company's existing video conferencing and unified communications system, said Steve Vonder Haar, an analyst at Wainhouse Research. Moreover, Vonder Haar said, streaming exposes employees to their companies' video capabilities.
"Live streaming is a gateway drug," Vonder Haar said. "It fosters greater awareness of one-to-many video and sets the stage for video to be used in a broader set of business applications."
Steve Vonder Haaranalyst, Wainhouse Research
According to a Wainhouse survey of 1,801 users in the fourth quarter of 2016, 27% of organizations said they produced at least 50 live streaming video events per year, which translates to about one per week. In 2015, that number was at 21%.
"There's growth there," Vonder Haar said. "Is there massive room for future growth? Yes, absolutely. With video, and live video in particular, the sky's the limit."
Determine internal and external use cases
Large enterprises want streaming services that leverage their existing video conferencing investments, said Roopam Jain, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
"Cost and network constraints have kept video conferencing reach restrained," she said. "Live streaming extends the reach of video communications."
When considering live streaming services, customers need to examine their specific use case. For example, external marketing events need strong analytics to measure customer attendance and engagement. In these lead-generation events, companies can score prospective customers and prioritize sales follow-up.
In the case of employee town halls or training sessions behind the corporate firewall, streaming services must have solid security so outsiders can't access the content. Additionally, companies need bandwidth and infrastructure powerful enough to ensure a high volume of video content does not crash the corporate network, Vonder Haar said.
Streaming empowers employees to use video
Streaming's one-to-many distribution method creates video-enabled users, Vonder Haar said, as companies package content into portals and channels that employees can access.
Roopam Jainanalyst, Frost & Sullivan
"The wonderful thing about streaming video is it's one of the most viral communications applications in the enterprise," he said. "Once people see video at work on a reliable basis, they'll dream up their own ways of using video to achieve day-to-day business communications objectives."
Streaming platforms let employees share videos within an organization, which creates a repository of institutional knowledge. An engineer, for example, could do a video to discuss a product's technical attributes. If that engineer leaves the company, the video stays in a content library so future employees can view it and learn product details.
Live streaming services crop up
One vendor looking to take advantage of this market is Lifesize Inc., a video conferencing provider based in Austin, Texas. Last week, Lifesize launched a live streaming service as an add-on to its cloud-based video conferencing portfolio.
The service, called Lifesize Live Stream, supports up to 10,000 viewers and 50 video-enabled speakers in a live event. The service supports all major browsers and mobile devices. Users pay based on usage.
Lifesize Live Stream is primarily designed for internal use cases, Jain said. By contrast, webcasts are largely geared toward external use cases, such as marketing and investor relations events.
Lifesize Live Stream users can record events, which can be shared with absent viewers later and housed in a video library. Viewers can interact with event hosts via a live Q&A text-based chat.
One Lifesize customer, the Aldine Independent School District in Houston, plans to use the live streaming service for graduations, board meetings and campus announcements. The school district, which serves more than 70,000 students, has been using a broadcast server to record board meetings to an SD card. Those videos then need to be downloaded. But the Lifesize streaming service should ease recording and video access, said Larry Muston, the school district's senior telecom technician.
"Streaming is no longer an island," Vonder Haar said. "It's a stack in the overall UC solution. Streaming platforms make us look at video in a different way."
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