Posts Tagged ‘mobile video’

Periscope: Concerns for the Enterprise

November 12, 2015 Leave a comment


I sat down with some old friends yesterday to chat about all kinds of things in the streaming universe, and at one point we got into a discussion about Periscope, the livestreaming tool available through Twitter. It got me thinking about the revolutionary nature of these new tools and how they might impact the Enterprise.

Make no mistake here – allowing users to livestream with nothing more than a phone they’re carrying anyway is a major game changer. It’s by no means a replacement for a proper setup for anything serious, but the ability to deliver live content even at the relatively low-level of a phone is still an amazing opportunity for users of every kind. The question is, how does this new tool get adopted in large organizations, and what might be some of the concerns facing business owners and IT teams?

There’s no question Periscope, Meerkat and the few other options out there will find quick adoption among smaller companies, and small groups within larger organizations. Enterprise-level adoption, however, almost always demands a deep look into the impact of a new tool and the overall value to the organization. The first concern I think most companies will have is security – can the tool be brought in without increasing the risk of hackers using it to break into systems? With these apps, I believe it’s too early to tell how this might impact other systems which tells me it’ll be some time before widespread adoption.

The second concern is the development of a strategy and a set of use cases to help the organization fit livestreaming apps into their overall business. Why do you want on-the-fly live events? What are they meant to accomplish? Who do you want delivering these events? For large organizations, both internal and external communications can be tightly controlled, and the entire purpose of these apps is to spread the opportunities around to as many people as you can. Adding them to the company’s arsenal requires an ability to surrender control which can be a hard sell to company leadership. It also means developing policies & procedures for using the tools, and that can delay deployment while the necessary documents are created.

A third issue is impact of the technology on existing IT systems & resources. Is some sort of central administration needed? Who will provide user support? With budgets and personnel already stretched farther than advisable, smart IT leadership will ask these questions before committing to including these tools.

It’s hard to wait on interesting and powerful technology, but most large enterprise organizations take their time about adoption until it can be worked into their overall business strategies. Interestingly, the Mayo Clinic is one organization that has begun to experiment with Periscope. I find it notable because health care is one of the most highly regulated industries and providers can be very wary of how they share. I will say that I know some people at Mayo and they’ve been very forward-looking in their adoption of new communication tools, and it’s good to see them taking advantage of Periscope.

Overall I expect these tools will join other social outlets used by large organizations, but probably in a very controlled and limited way. It doesn’t mean employees aren’t already leveraging them, but I’d be surprised to see any major adoption in the near future.


Attention Spans Waning, or Too Many Choices?

August 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Rebecca Greenfield over at the Atlantic reports the following story:

The Internet’s Attention Span for Video Is Quickly Shrinking

The bulk of the piece is focused on MixBit, a new app offering in the works by the gentlemen who originally developed YouTube. Given that success it’s fair to assume that they have something here, but I think there are two problems with the piece – the headline and the implications of the MixBit app.

The headline I think is misleading at best. Yes, a year and a half is a lifetime in the internet age, but a drop of two minutes attention span on average could mean almost anything. Are producers shortening their videos and therefore the average piece is now down to five minutes instead of seven? Is there more video in the aggregate and more people watching, therefore there’s an impact on the averages even if people are still watching plenty of video? What, in fact, do they mean by “watching video?” If I sit down to a Netflix session with a 45 minute episode of Dr. Who, I’m there for the duration; if I’m goofing around and catch some viral thing that bores me after 30 seconds, I’m gone no matter how long it lasts.

I’m not specifically questioning the methodologies of the ComScore report – I don’t generally care to dig into those and I wouldn’t understand much of it if I did. The question of attention span may matter, but the big question I always ask of pronouncements and trends like these is “What does it mean to me?” Averages matter, but the corporate or enterprise video producer cannot and should not be driven by trends and statistics. You have a story to tell, and audiences to reach – keep focused on that and let the length run to whatever you need to tell the story best. No, you’re not going to reach your targets with a 30 minute homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. You probably also can’t reach them with a 6 second Vine and get them to purchase your products. Make your best editorial decisions when you shoot and edit a piece, and don’t worry too much about the length, as trends are trends and only provide general information.

The second issue revolves around what turns out to be the bulk of the article, which makes the headline doubly misleading – it should have been titled “YouTube Founders Build Another Video App”. In the end I think MixBit is just another editing tool – in Ms. Greenfield’s words, “MixBit goes even further with its social tools by allowing people to create hour-long videos by splicing together up to 256 of those 16-second clips” [emphasis in the original]. While I grant you the 16-second base clip of MixBit is longer than both Vine and Instagram Video, I’m not entirely certain what makes this app especially revolutionary. Yes, you can make longer clips out of existing video pieces, but why would a serious production team leverage this tool to make long video pieces? If the audience grows outrageously, yes I guess it’s one more outlet, but the competition with existing tools is frankly too great for me to consider this a particularly helpful addition.

While I applaud every new opportunity to bring video to the viewers, it’s important to keep your team’s eyes on the prize. In the end, especially for the enterprise video team, these micro-video tools should be used sparingly and as a supplement to the larger efforts of the group. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype around new features and distribution channels, and that’s what makes it all the more critical to focus your attention on the goals of the organization. A new editing tool like MixBit may be great for the general user, but if you’ve spent thousands of dollars on equipment and editing suites, what benefit does this add? Yes, Instagram now lets you upload your own videos (as opposed to shooting within the app) – does this actually mean you’ll reach more of your target customers there? Make sure you answer those questions properly no matter what the trends say.

Need More Time? How About 15 Seconds?

June 26, 2013 Leave a comment

So in my last post (sadly too many months ago) I looked at the Vine app and its 6 second length. As I said there, I don’t get it as a tool for companies and organizations, as its just too little time to tell a story on its own.

It seems Instagram agreed with me.

Their new video offering is a colossal (by comparison) 15 seconds long, and the numbers immediately after launch are astonishing by almost any standard:

Instagram users upload 5M clips in vid-sharing feature’s first day

5 Million clips in 24 hours. Nearly 21,000 hours of content uploaded in one day. While this by itself is astonishing, the more important factor for the enterprise as I see it is that you now have a real, solid chunk of time to develop a story and share it with your viewers. (H/T, incidentally, to the fine Mike Whitmore, digital genius, for the link above he so kindly posted. Look for him on twitter, @mikewhitmore to learn some things and periodic Nutella updates.)

If you watch video online you’ve gotten any number of ads delivered by video – often pre-roll ads that you wait impatiently through so you can get to your chosen content. Check those ads out – there’s a significant number of them that only run 15 seconds. And you get the whole story, and a thorough understanding of the product, movie or service. Now, what I’ve seen to this point (Adweek offers some examples) is a little underwhelming – so far it looks like longer stop motion pieces not much different than Vine. But as they point out in that Adweek story, these are just early attempts to tell stories with it. I fully expect more polished pieces as companies and agencies get comfortable with the medium and I think you’ll see dialogue and real stories.

From a production standpoint I’m still not overwhelmed – you’re leaning on a phone/device app with limited controls and editing tools, but I expect this to change as well. Users may seek better production tools, or better yet develop them on their own. It won’t be Final Cut Pro or Vegas, but I see real potential for more of an editing suite for these apps. Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy NX introduces the first serious connected camera, and the ability to leverage a serious (or at least semi-serious) DSLR and WiFi connectivity means we could see some beautifully shot Instagram videos.

So I think I was right about Vine – it’s just too short to tell a story, but Instagram video changes the discussion a lot.

Six Seconds to Tell a Story

March 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Many of you have seen the Vine app, and probably used it. Like most apps I think it has a place, and I have no problem with people using it for whatever they choose.

As a video guy in the enterprise space, however, I’m completely stymied as to how to make it work as a tool to deliver any kind of coherent messaging. I imagine that wasn’t the intention, but I keep sensing people looking for a tool for video that matches the strength and reach of things like twitter for text/links and instagram for photos.

In both of those cases it’s relatively easy to tell your story even within the limits of the tools. 140 characters isn’t much, but with some aggressive editing and a huge disregard for grammar and spelling you can communicate a lot. Obviously every business on the planet has grasped that, and whether they’re doing it well or not they’re all using twitter to share a message. Instagram has a similar value despite the limits – adding the filters can dramatically change the mood or message conveyed. While I haven’t heard of a lot of enterprise users leveraging it, I can easily grasp the message and I could see a company using it.

But six seconds of video? What can you get across by the six seconds alone? Based on some surfing I’ve done, not a lot. Mashable posted some examples here:

5 Ways Startups Are Using Vine

The results? Personally, without the accompanying tweet text explaining what’s going on I don’t think I’d really understand the message. That’s not a bad thing, and perhaps that’s why twitter put the app out there – pair a tweet with a video and you get more impact. I’m not sure I agree, but it makes more sense than the videos on their own.

Here’s some more examples collected on a tumblr blog:

The Joy of Six

As a tool for short stop-motion pieces it’s pretty neat, but again I feel there’s not much of a story being told.

So from an enterprise perspective I just don’t get it – how can you possibly get these tiny fragments to tell a tale? I look at video as an opportunity for storytelling – what does your company do, why are your products great, what do your employees need to know. I imagine it would be possible to release a series of these shorts to build up engagement and have people come back to see each new episode, but that puts a lot of faith in people’s patience to wait for each new development. Can you serialize a message in 6 second clips? It certainly puts pressure on the writer/producer to make some real statement in each short chunk.

So I’m not sold, but I could be (and probably will be) wrong about it. Feel free to convince me that this type of filmmaking has a place in the enterprise.

Mobile Video and the Enterprise

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Long Tail Video has an interesting post today about the state of live streaming to mobile devices and specifically issues with the Android platform:

The Pain of Live Streaming on Android

The group over there know their streaming, and if you’ve never heard of their flagship JW Player, head over to their site and check it out. I’ve worked with it before and it’s a highly configurable, simple and elegant solution for video playback.

What Ed Wolf points out in the blogpost is probably one of the greatest pain points for online video delivery across the enterprise – delivering quality video experiences to end users regardless of platform. It’s by no means a simple solution for on-demand viewing, but it becomes even more complex for live events. The introduction of HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) was (as Ed indicates) supposed to solve this issue and make the delivery across platforms and devices simple, but as in all technology simple is a relative term.

As the bring your own device (BYOD) universe in the enterprise increases exponentially, the need for simple, manageable standards for delivery become even more critical. Of course, developing standards across competing brands and OS universes is not simple, and at the best of times standards-making bodies don’t act swiftly. So what’s an enterprise production house supposed to do to handle the inevitable requests for viewers using specific platforms?

The answer depends on your organization and your approach to video. The simplest, though not necessarily most cost-effective solution is to deliver video using a third-party provider and work closely with them to make certain they can handle the most popular devices. There are many reasons to use a third-party anyway, so it’s one more question to raise with them when evaluating vendors. Like every other decision, make sure you test it out thoroughly with all of the key platforms before committing to the vendor right before the big live event with the CEO.

The other option is simply not to offer it at all.  Again this depends on your organization, the maturity of your online video efforts and the company’s position on BYOD. I’ve been in the position of managing live event streaming, but we did it so infrequently to such a small audience that struggling with multiple platforms wasn’t worth the effort. We offered recommended configurations and warned users that it was likely to be a problem if they were outside that scope.

Long term this isn’t really an answer for a company and program that are serious about online video delivery – you will eventually have to find a way to offer the same content to users regardless of platform. Unfortunately we’re still a ways away from finding a single approach that will work universally, but at least there are some options to deliver live content everywhere.

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