With the use of video in the workplace growing rapidly, live and on-demand streaming across multiple platforms and devices can unveil a range of challenges that your business may not be prepared for. Here are my top 10 tips for delivering a successful enterprise video experience.
1. Content capture and contribution
Content is richer and more dynamic than ever before. One of the main reasons for this is the growing number of sources available, from high-end cameras and recorders to consumer-level cameras, mobile devices, webcams, conferencing systems and broadcast feeds. This can result in a range of challenges, especially if other content types (corporate graphics, slides and interactive multimedia content) need to be captured and stored alongside the core video.
There may also be one or more signal acquisition centres and services where pre-recorded or live content is captured and stored (studios creating high-end content, to web portals that capture footage from webcams). To overcome these complexities and enable faster editing, content should be stored in a high definition archive format, as well as a proxy format – low resolution.
2. Post production and content management
After content has been captured it may need to be edited, with the addition of graphics, slides, multimedia, closed captions, subtitles and multiple audio tracks. One, five and 15-minute shortened versions (promos) can also be made. Content should be tracked in a content management system (CMS) with either a purpose-built CMS or by customising metadata items in a document management system or intranet platform.
3. Metadata, subtitles and thumbnails
Once content has been edited, metadata should be added to make it searchable and easier for viewers to navigate. Subtitles can be added to make videos accessible and provide an opportunity to translate audio into any language.
Content should be categorised and added to relevant channels so that it is promoted to the right audience. Lastly, thumbnail images enable viewers to find content more easily, so choosing one that stands out is crucial as it compels viewers to click through to the content.
4. Transcoding to multiple formats
To avoid skipped frames or video buffering it’s important that high definition content is converted into various formats at multiple bitrates to match the requirements of the corporate network and the devices it will be rendered on. This should be a fully automated process that happens immediately after post production.
5. Distributed storage
Once the content is converted into the required formats it should be uploaded into the system that will eventually deliver it. This could be a content delivery network (CDN), edge servers, centralised servers or a peer-to-peer network (storage required for high definition content in multiple codecs may be very large). Locations of all this content should be re-attached to the episode metadata.
6. Presentation via portals and embedded players
When the content is ready to be viewed it should be exposed on various internal portals, for example, SharePoint, Salesforce.com, Brightcove or other video-specific platforms, such as YouTube. This exposure should be automated as far as possible. For example, the marketing section of the intranet should automatically show the latest videos that are tagged as soon as they are available. The content might be exposed as a single player, as sets of filmstrips or as playlists.
7. Player detection and analytics
The player application should be able to determine whether the video is running on Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android or Blackberry, for example. Once this has been determined, it should identify the correct player and video format, but the user experience should remain consistent.
Whether the player is using Silverlight, Flash or HTML5 video tags it should collect network and user experience analytics. This will reveal whether the user had a smooth experience, if they skipped around in the video or interacted with the multimedia.
8. Reactive high-speed streaming sources
The service that delivers the content should be correctly sized and located for the organisation type it is used in, covering both internal and external delivery. Multiple vendor technologies may be required to deliver to desktop, mobile and digital signage systems. Additionally, varying internet bandwidth and congestion across the company must be taken into account.
When rolling out the service the analytics data should be carefully monitored to make sure the streaming system is providing a good user experience, otherwise the message will be lost.
9. Search and social features
It should be possible to search for archive content using the available metadata and to allow users to add more metadata in the form of tagging and rating so that search results become more useful over time. Allowing users to comment on content will bring valuable feedback to the content creator and channel managers.
The CMS should enable editors to push and pull content and metadata into other systems. It is not possible to predict future communications and marketing requirements, or technology changes. Therefore, the pipeline must be flexible enough to allow custom development via application programme interfaces (APIs) to meet future needs – whether they are one-off analytics reports or long-term re-broadcasting capabilities.