Guido Jouret is chief technology officer for the Cisco Systems emerging technologies group.
The world is on the cusp of the next revolution in how people work. With globalization, most workers can’t rely on face to face communications to get things done. People often take longer to communicate or trust each other, and job satisfaction can suffer.
This next phase of how we work must create deeper relationships and spur more effective communications, and a sense of “connectedness” that we’ve been missing. Enterprise video is a key element of this shift because it radically changes the way we collaborate and share information with colleagues and customers.
As consumers, we are well aware of the lure of video. In 2012, video eclipsed all other data as the majority of consumer Internet traffic for the first time, with 48 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute – or eight years worth of content every day. By 2015, video traffic on the Internet will more than quadruple. This translates to about 1 million minutes of video sent across the Internet every second.
These numbers aren’t surprising. Video is expanding across many industries, including manufacturing, high-tech, banking, retail, healthcare, government and education. A majority of Fortune 500 companies are utilizing video to cut travel costs, scale resources and expertise, and provide a more engaging level of customer service.
“How Can We Use Video?”
The question today isn’t “why should we use video?” Instead it is “How can we use video? And how do we make it pervasive?” Enterprises must find the right approach for their organization, identifying where video can add the most value, and then thinking through an architecture for video so that technologies can integrate and work together.
That may sound daunting, but with this challenge comes a tremendous opportunity. IT can become a valuable, strategic advisor for the business, by directly impacting how business functions, such as marketing, HR, and organizational communications perform. Video can enable IT to improve internal productivity and overall business growth.
As you begin to think about your video strategy, here are some critical steps to consider:
1) Define the top business priorities. Talk with your business leaders to determine their key challenges that can be addressed with video. Do they need to increase or improve customer interaction? Do they need to cut overhead expenses? Or perhaps they need to scale top experts across several locations? A definitive list of business goals will ensure your video application and technology choices align to meet your company’s needs.
2) Find a sponsor. Many successful deployments today have been driven by a key executive. Does your CEO want to deliver her message to far-flung employees quarterly? Does HR want to improve employee morale with more frequent and impactful communications? Is training concerned about rapid uptake of new products or services? A highly visible use of video and key internal supporters will increase the prospects of widespread awareness and adoption.
3) Show early success. There are many ways to use video, and trying several at once can be overwhelming and impractical. So, start with your top priorities to determine which application of video can demonstrate the most immediate value: for example, two-way video interaction for live company meetings; large-scale video broadcasts for events; or video surveillance for safety and security. Many organizations initiate their use of video by moving meetings and collaboration to video to increase effectiveness, accelerate decision making and boost global participation. They can then leverage their initial investment in a video conferencing platform to add capabilities such as video recording, live video streaming or sharing for additional uses.
4) Implement Enterprise Class. Consider your IT requirements for security and scalability. Because video is a new area, many organizations facing IT consumerization lean on “bottoms up” or an opt-in approach to video application selection. This may mean rapid user adoption but sacrifice of enterprise-class requirements such as security across your organization.
5) Forge new relationships. Ownership of an organization’s video program may need to be shared across multiple departments within a company depending on its size. For example, to roll out digital signage across offices or stores, IT may need to collaborate with other departments like AV, facilities, or marketing. A successful video deployment will require the input and expertise of all relevant departments; IT can facilitate these new connections to drive a more successful video project.
6) Create great video experiences. Users expect a high-quality—and simple—video experience from day one. With consumerization and an increasingly “opt-in” mentality from end users, providing excellent experiences are a key part of successful video rollouts. An obvious way to ensure good (or bad) video experiences is to start with the right infrastructure. This doesn’t necessarily mean more network bandwidth. Instead, seek ways to optimize your network, so you can optimize existing bandwidth and take advantage of today’s newest tools for cost-effective management and monitoring. Today smarter endpoints, from video cameras to digital displays, leverage network features for plug and play capabilities and deliver the best possible video experience.
Overall, there is no one road toward the best video strategy. The good news is there are many paths to success. By planning ahead and identifying how video can best supplement your organization, you can transform your business and directly impact its success.