We watch eight billion Facebook videos each day. By 2020, video will represent 75 per cent of all mobile data traffic. With statistics like this, says Ian McMurray, it’s no surprise that major organisations are increasingly leveraging the power of video
According to a report published by Zion Market Research in July, the worldwide corporate video market will grow from 2016’s $18.94 billion to $46.63 billion by 2022. That’s a CAGR of over 16 per cent. Today, it seems, video is king, and is said by Cisco to be responsible for 80 per cent of all internet traffic. Increasingly, enterprises and organisations Europe-wide and beyond are looking to video as the core of their internal – and, often, external communications strategy.
“Video remains one of the most powerful corporate communication tools, allowing companies to reach and engage audiences across a range of devices from tablets to smartphones and laptops, among other devices,” believes AJA director of product marketing, Bryce Button (pictured right)
“We’ve experienced this surge over the last five years with the rapid expansion of our pro AV customer base. Not only are major corporations implementing large-scale installations, but we’ve also seen smaller to mid-size companies investing heavily in live streaming and infrastructure solutions.”
“More and more companies are wanting to use video in their day-to-day communications, both internal and external,” says Harry McNicol, head of video and events at integrator AVMI, “and they are becoming more sophisticated in their understanding of the medium.”
“The market for corporate video is growing – certainly for NewTek,” echoes the company’s senior director of sales, EMEA, Chris Waddington. “Whilst video production used to be reserved for Fortune 500 companies, organisations of virtually any size now have access to tools allowing them to create professional looking video and can deliver content to a global audience via a plethora of platforms and devices. In terms of who’s actually investing, it’s incredibly varied.”
“The market is definitely growing,” adds Colin Farquhar, CEO of Exterity, “especially as organisations embrace the flexibility of BYOD and what it offers employees. “The cost of capturing and distributing video has dropped and many organisations are seeing benefits in areas such as training, customer service and as a useful tool in collaborative meetings.”
There’s little doubt that, despite the projections of rapid future growth, the enterprise video market is, in many ways, already a mature one. While, as Farquhar noted, it is becoming increasingly affordable for smaller organisations to consider its potential, larger organisations are upgrading existing installations.
“We’re in an era of modifications and upgrades,” says Andy Fliss, vice-president of sales and marketing at tvONE. “Many corporations are still using analogue; laptop manufacturers are still seeing great demand for VGA interfaces. However, those corporations are seeing the limitations of this technology and are actively upgrading to AV over IP. This is something we’re seeing everywhere: it’s not a trend confined to individual market segments or company sizes.”
Ah, yes. Internet Protocol (the technology that is rapidly underpinning our entire lives and that is becoming an almost-universal connectivity standard. Even industries such as broadcast are, after years of reluctance and resistance – the technologies they had worked fine, so why would they change?) seeing how transformative it can be.
“IP technology really has broken down the barriers and has made it far easier to connect,” explains Waddington (pictured right). “Whether it’s bringing in Skype callers remotely, incorporating content from devices such as mobile phones, tablets and computers, engaging with people via social media or delivering to both big and small screens globally, IP technology is the key to making all of this happen.”
It would be easy to make two mistakes. The first would be to believe that IPTV and corporate video are in some way one and the same. The second would be that IPTV is a one-size-fits-all solution. Neither, according to the industry, is the case. Fliss, for example, is clear.
“IPTV is not the same as corporate video,” he says. “It is a specific methodology with its own standards and technologies, particularly related to content protection. It is more popular in the hospitality industry than the corporate sector and normally requires a decoder or a tuner positioned near to the display.”
“Whether or not corporate video can be deemed synonymous with IPTV all depends on how you define IP,” adds Button. “Three platforms that utilise IP for video production, distribution and delivery include typical video streaming, HDBaseT and broadcast IP. Streaming uses IP networks to share video in close to real-time, but with a slight delay. HDBaseT involves point-to-point distribution across IP, which is helpful in a production pipeline - and broadcast IP replicates a low-latency broadcast experience across dedicated IP networks.”
“Are they one and the same? Yes and no,” smiles Waddington. “When we’re talking corporate video, IPTV is still an incredibly important part as it allows companies to reach hundreds, thousands, millions of people simultaneously, through an established platform. However, the work place is constantly changing with more and more people working remotely. This brings with it some unique challenges for IPTV. Over the past few years, a more hybrid approach is rapidly becoming the norm.”
Key learning points
- The enterprise video market is already huge, and is forecast to continue its rapid growth
- IP is at the heart of most implementations – but in some use cases, it has its limitations
- Audio is easily overlooked, yet it is key to the success of video
- Ensuring today’s requirements are met is vital – but scalability and upgradability are imperative
- Integrators can have a key role in advising on alternative strategies and implementations
Farquhar too sees an environment capable of accommodating a range of technologies – not least as organisations migrate their existing systems.
“The pervasiveness of IP networks means that the majority of corporate video is now run as an IPTV-based service,” he says. “Where existing coaxial networks do exist, there are a number of technologies that allow organisations to use analogue for physical connectivity as part of a mixed network. However, for newer deployments, IP-based video is clearly the preferred option due to performance, reliability, reduced costs and flexible end point connectivity.”
Leaving aside the role of IP technology in designing and implementing a corporate video infrastructure – the consensus seems to be that it’s highly significant, but not the be-all and end-all – what are the other potential pitfalls the industry sees in approaching the roll-out or refresh of a system?
According to Button, it’s imperative to match your intended audience’s expectations in terms of video quality – something that’s not made easier as we transition to higher resolutions.
“The quality of your video is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain,” he points out, “and often, I find companies are still using SD hardware in an HD pipeline. This is troublesome not only because HD has become the corporate video standard, but also because text and graphics don’t hold up as well in SD. For instance, if a company has an SD camera in the pipeline that they haven’t upgraded, the overall video quality will suffer. That’s why we offer a range of converters.”
Fliss too notes the challenges posed by a diversity of resolutions and formats, and the need to match content to the target display – but sees another possible issue.
“The importance of audio, and the challenge of getting it right, is also often underestimated,” he claims. “A great image can be ruined by cheap sound, and speakers that sound great in one area can sound muffled or dull in another.
“Audio delay compensation is a critical element that should be considered in any mixed-media presentation environment.”
Waddington picks up on the audio theme. “When it comes to video transition, people still look to the broadcast industry and often at traditional technology such as SDI to move video around the building,” he says. “Today, this is simply not required as more modern alternatives such as NDI and Dante allow video and audio to pass across IT networks. This greatly simplifies how devices connect – but, more importantly, how people connect with each other. Connectivity is key in today’s modern world and to rely on a single cable to transmit one video signal in one direction seems almost prehistoric.”
McNicol returns to Button’s point about quality, and to the mantra so often heard in the AV industry – that content is king – noting that increasing numbers of large organisations are bringing more video production in-house, aided by DSLRs and smaller and more compact video cameras with
rigs that allow for ‘steady-cam’ type video shooting and more cost-effective production that looks
“Rule one is to start out with a clear brief and objective for the video,” he believes. “Next: a common mistake is for a video to be overlong. Research shows that viewer attention drops off after four or five minutes. The third key to success is to keep production values high in areas such as shooting, editing and motion graphics. These will make or break a video, and are essential if you want to keep a sophisticated viewing audience engaged.”
For Exterity’s Farquhar, the bigger picture is an exciting one, with boundaries between different video usages increasingly becoming blurred.
“One of the most exciting recent developments in the world of corporate video is the closer integration between traditional digital signage and streamed video sources,” he says. “The use of smart, software-based media servers and IP-based networks enables organisations to mix and match different live and pre-recorded video along with informative, dynamic signage across a wider range of end point devices. This flexibility is opening up exciting new
corporate use cases that bring video to the widest possible audience.”
The answer to the latter, says Waddington, is through the software.
Achieving video dreams
“Software tools are playing a huge part in making it far easier to create great looking video,” he advises. “Companies no longer need to invest in large, expensive broadcast switchers to achieve their video dreams, as today’s software-based production technology is just as powerful and offers a far greater choice when it comes to connectivity. Software can also be upgraded so, as new ideas are born and new technology becomes available, software-based systems can easily adapt to these changes – unlike traditional hardware, which often needs to be replaced.”
That need to future-proof an implementation is also close to Farquhar’s (pictured) heart.
“Based on an individual organisation’s specific requirements – for example, for live TV, on-demand video, digital signage, other systems integrations, number of locations and so on – it’s important to consider what features would offer the most benefit to the organisation and then select technology that can meet these core requirements and also has the flexibility to adapt to future growth,” he recommends. “Selecting an IP video solution that adheres to industry standards and content protection regulation is also key.”
Fliss is also a believer in forward planning. “Think ahead,” he counsels. “No architect would plan to construct or refurbish a building without considering power, heating and plumbing needs. Why do corporations still accept plans for new buildings without considering the AV? It is always cheaper and neater to install the AV infrastructure before the wall and ceiling panelling is closed.”
“And,” he continues, “consult a competent integrator. By all means conduct research on the internet, but most systems involve some level of trade-off or compromise in order to deliver the best solution within the available budget. Integrators with a wealth of real experience of making systems work are best placed to advise here.”
Button agrees: “Work closely with an integrator that knows your business, and one that you trust,” he says. “It’s also important to consider whether or not the integrator is embracing emerging technology trends like 4K, HDR and IP. If you’re having trouble finding the right integrator, start with a product you’re interested in and work backwards, as technology vendors often host a list of available channel partners.”
From “all hands” meetings to feeding important financial information to desktops; from training to corporate foyer messaging; and from cafeteria infotainment to conferencing and huddle rooms, video is transforming corporate communications, with entirely positive results.
Its future seems assured.