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Posts Tagged ‘risk management’

Periscope: Concerns for the Enterprise

November 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Periscope-Logo

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.

External Factors Impact User Experience with Video

February 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Twice over the last two days I had the opportunity to leverage streaming content for some entertainment. Both times I faced streaming challenges, and it’s a reminder that no matter how good the content we develop, we’re often subject to external factors that can completely change how the end-user feels about our work.

I started out on Saturday with the DVR recording I made of the USA-Russia olympic hockey game. Thanks to my cable provider’s channel guide mistake, I got an extra 30 minutes of commentary that resulted in the recording cutting out in the middle of overtime. So I switched over to the laptop to load up the replay from nbcolympics.com. Plenty has been written about the business model behind the access to the content – if you haven’t heard, you only get access to the full scope of content if you have an existing cable/satellite provider. This of course shuts out many people who don’t have those services, and I’m not convinced that it’s a successful model to use.

Regardless of those issues, I do have a cable subscription and the results were horrible. I needed to catch up on the end of overtime and the shootout that followed – no more than about 10 minutes of video total. It’s safe to say I spent at least double that time waiting for the content to buffer and begin playing. I’d get a minute or two of playback followed by a long spell of buffering. If I had not been committed to seeing the end of the game I’d have given up within the first couple of minutes.

Sunday night was movie night with the kids (well, one of them – the other two refused to watch). We agreed on a movie and ordered it from Amazon video. And the movie loaded. And loaded and loaded. And still loading. And almost but not quite loaded. We gave it about 5 minutes before shutting down the TV and restarting to get it working. The rest of the playback was mostly OK with only some buffering, so overall the experience was pretty good.

The point of all this is that as a creator and manager of content, your users’ experience is dependent on a lot of things that you often can’t control. The issues I faced over the weekend could have occurred in a half dozen places along the path from provider to me. It could be a router somewhere along the internet, my internet connection or the connection between the device and my home router. But I understand the networking issues better than most users, especially as it applies to online video delivery. More importantly, I had an investment in the pieces I was trying to watch. I lived with the issues I experienced because I really wanted to see the video, and I never would have taken the time I did for something I was looking at casually.

As a content provider, you need to be aware of the possible problems with delivery. A lot of corporate video is, frankly, not must-watch video – will your users stick with it if they are facing streaming quality issues? There isn’t unfortunately a lot that can be done about downstream problems – it’s often a user by user situation and you can’t solve that problem for everyone.

You can, however, take certain steps on your own end – use a streaming service provider that has a robust network with multiple sourcing points and plenty of capacity. Contract with them for better service if you’re delivering a high profile live event. Encode your videos for optimum playback without overdoing the bitrates and video sizes – a smaller video that plays cleanly is better than a larger one that buffers constantly. You really, really have to spot check your content to see how it behaves, especially across multiple devices in multiple network situations. A hardwired connection will behave differently than over the air or wifi, iPhones will behave differently than PC desktops. Above all else, if you can possibly provide contact information alongside the video, you give users the chance to learn more even if the video fails for any reason – instead of definitely losing an opportunity, you’ll have the chance that they’ll reach out to you.

The problems with playback often have nothing to do with your work as the content provider, but the result is that you take the blame for it. They don’t say “oh, that lousy telecom and their service”, they say “this stupid company can’t figure out how to deliver a video?” It may not be fair, but the result is the same – your great content doesn’t appear, and sales and communication opportunities are lost. Do what you can to keep it working, and know when it’s not working so you can get it fixed as soon as possible.

Managing Risks in Video Content

January 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Day to day life in content production in my current industry involves a large amount of risk management. Every piece that works its way through the process is vetted for risky content—are we overstating the case? Are we mentioning private information that we shouldn’t? Are we using language that we shouldn’t use? It got me thinking about risk concerns during the creation and distribution of video – what are some of the things we need to think about?

Some industries are more risk-conscious than others. Consulting/Advisory (where I am now), Healthcare (where I’ve been), Financial Services/Banking (haven’t gotten to this one so far) are among the most risk-aware fields out there. A lot of this is driven by the extreme sensitivity of the information companies in these fields possess—critical proprietary business information, your private health information or your money. Some is driven by the need for consumer protection—government regulations abound to make sure the information these organizations hold is protected and safe from prying eyes and that companies do not make promises they can’t keep. 

If you’re in one of those industries, the safeguards on language and information are likely in place. It’s possible there’s a whole department with responsibility for making sure the videos you produce comply with regulations & company policies. As a producer you should be aware of the organization’s needs and anticipate the pitfalls. If you’re writing a script, think about the messages you’re delivering, and how they fit the company’s risk profile. You can save yourselves and the risk reviewers a lot of time and effort by keeping it front and center at every step of the way. Even if it’s not required, think about having the risk people review the script before you schedule recording—if you can spot potential issues ahead of time it can save messy re-shoots later.

If you’re interviewing people (as opposed to a scripted shoot) have a conversation with your talent before the camera rolls about the kinds of things to avoid. While it can get crowded and certainly take some of the energy out of an interview, consider having a risk-aware person in the room with you during the shoot to keep an ear out for risk problems. It may not be ideal from a production standpoint, but it can head off the kinds of problems that will force a re-shoot later to clean it up.

If you’re in another industry where the risk management effort gets less attention, it’s still good practice to think about these concerns. What kinds of language might reflect poorly on the organization? What statements might disturb or offend your key audiences? What private information—including proprietary to your company—should not be shared with a general audience? Even without a formal risk review process, your company’s leadership is likely to be concerned about what gets shared on video. If you can demonstrate to them an awareness and respect for this important consideration you’ll go a long way towards earning their trust to get the job done the right way.

Enterprise Collaboration with Video

February 15, 2013 Leave a comment

One of my past Streaming Media East co-panelists David Boyll posted this to twitter the other day (and feel free to follow @dboyll if you’re interested in enterprise video, marketing and the SF Giants):

Inside Baseball: Using Video for Enterprise Knowledge and Collaboration Portals

Brightcove is one of the big players in the enterprise video delivery systems universe and they’ve got a pretty good handle on the streaming needs and issues facing businesses. On the whole I’m with them about the power of video within organizations and the value it can bring to help the organization share information. In my archives days we used to refer to this kind of hidden knowledge as institutional memory – it’s in the back of the collective brain of the company and the new collaboration tools can help surface it to everyone. Collaboration and knowledge management can do enormous things to shorten the amount of time it takes to get the information an employee needs to do their job. Connecting people across the enterprise regardless of time and distance means long searches can be accomplished in minutes or hours instead of days. Video of course can support those efforts by capturing information visually and disseminating it across boundaries.

My major concern with the argument is not really an issue for Brightcove as much as it is with the organizations themselves. There are institutional and individual pyschologies involved in sharing information that can often get in the way of spreading the knowledge. Individuals are sometimes unwilling to share their hard-earned expertise, perhaps from fear that they become redundant. While I think the younger generations are more comfortable with sharing (perhaps too much so sometimes) there’s still a resistance among many employees to collaborate.

Institutionally there remain barriers, largely I think due to the issues companies have with both security concerns and the use of social communications within the work environment. For the former, there are worries about the information getting spread out too far, both internally and of course outside the company. For the latter issue I think many companies still see social tools within the company as “Facebook for the Enterprise” – a place where employees go to waste time and post silly pictures. While there are good reasons to be concerned about wide sharing, and there is some wasted time (though I think there’s some value in that for employees’ mental health, but that’s another subject) by and large these tools can dramatically increase efficiency, improve collaboration and build community among dispersed employees.

The power of video is clear, and as Brightcove noted in the article it can serve as a tremendous tool for sharing valuable information throughout the enterprise. That said, I think the first critical step for an organization before deciding on a tool or medium for sharing is to commit to it wholeheartedly and encourage the collaboration fully. Perhaps your first collaborative video should be getting the senior leadership to step up and endorse collaboration.

Videoconferencing Security

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Ran across this story the other day in the New York Times.  I’m often amazed how much time people will spend trying to break the law and steal things – one can only imagine what they could accomplish if they tried to contribute something useful.

Cameras May Open Up the Board Room to Hackers

Needless to say this becomes one more item that organizations and their media teams need to worry about. Technically I think the scariest part of this is even if one’s own network is secure, partner organizations may end up sharing information about your network if theirs is not secured. There are obviously many reasons hackers would be delighted to sneak into unsecured cameras at all kinds of companies, which means there are that many reasons companies need to protect their conferencing systems. Practically speaking there are concrete steps companies can take to protect their VTC networks; as the article indicates some steps are complicated, but certainly doable.

The bigger issue I think for many managers is the convenience vs. security discussion.  Like most technology applications, the critical (i.e. C-suite) users generally want things to be quick and easy. Obviously those folks can have a technician available immediately to resolve issues and get them communicating, but I think many users don’t even want that kind of experience. Like the phone, they want to turn it on, dial out or receive a call, and proceed with their business. So how does a media manager prepare an argument in favor of tighter restrictions?

The easy part of the argument is the negative – “if we don’t do this, our most secure information could become vulnerable and cost us business/put us into litigation/embarrass us publicly.” For some that argument will be enough, and lucky you if it gets you the resources and effort you need. The harder arguments to make are the positive ones – benefits that will occur if they secure their network.

The truth is I’m hard pressed myself to come up with strong, positive arguments that will help make a sale to senior executives.  The consequences of unsecured data are pretty stark to me, and carry the most weight.  The one I can think of at the moment is the organization’s reputation – partners that do business with you will want to know you respect their privacy and data security, and it’s one more thing you can assure them about.  It’s good business practice, and it shows you understand the environment the company lives in.

I grant you that’s hardly the strongest positive argument, so let me open it up to you – what do you think is the best case you can make to an executive for securing your videoconferencing network?

Social Media and Other Buzzwords

May 24, 2011 2 comments

A Linked In connection  (thanks SB!) linked to the following article by Peter Shankman over at Business Insider, so I took a look:

Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert”

It’s an interesting, and I think accurate depiction of what’s happening in the marketing and web spheres these days – throw around enough buzzword terms and suddenly you become an “expert” and can get paid for the same kind of work that people used to do under different titles.  I have some disagreements with the author, but his essential point is quite true – call it whatever you want, if you can’t actually do the work behind it, you still end up with garbage.  It’s back to my days as an archivist – the medium of transmission matters less the data you’re preserving.  Sorry, Mr. McCluhan, but I never really bought into the Medium=Message idea.

Read more…

User Generated Content

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s a bit of a hot topic these days in the multimedia world – there were a number of sessions on the subject at Streaming Media East this year, and some discussion of it at the Communications Media Managers Association (CMMA) meeting I attended last month.

(Incidentally, both of those fine organizations are linked on the blogroll to the right – highly worth checking both of them out.  Dan Rayburn over at streamingmedia.com is a one man industry monitor/guru/genius, and the CMMA folks are an extremely gifted bunch of people in the trenches at the enterprise level.  SM sessions are online from all of their conferences, including my celebrity debut at a panel on Webcasting Tips & Tricks for the Enterprise [/shamelessplug].)

The theory of UGC is pretty straightforward – you’ve got a body of knowledge and a wealth of talent in your organization, and allowing them to produce content provides an outlet for them and an instant knowledgebase for the organization as a whole. The reality has been a little different, I think, and as usual it’s a complicated story. Read more…

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