Pandemic-era disruptions have fundamentally changed the way we live – from how we shop to how we socialise and even how we work. Businesses have quickly adapted, finding new ways to translate previously face-to-face interactions into virtual experiences over the internet, often with a live or on-demand video component. To this end, the pandemic has accelerated the demand for the expansion of corporate video pipelines. However, even as companies have settled into the work-from-home economy and some employees return to the office, video conferencing and streaming technologies remain in high demand, largely because of the advantages and efficiencies they bring to the table. As these technologies continue to advance, they introduce new opportunities and challenges for corporate AV professionals.
Regardless of whether a company follows a remote, or hybrid working model, having a solid video infrastructure in place ensures that teams have the proper tools for remote collaboration, which offers several benefits. Not only does it tend to result in higher job satisfaction among employees, but it also helps to broaden the corporate recruiting pool with geographical bounds no longer an issue. There are also significant cost savings to be had. Funds traditionally allocated for travel and accommodations or hefty office leases, can be redirected to other business initiatives. Although in-person interactions are returning, it seems logical that many corporations will continue to rely on virtual video technologies for corporate operations for some time to come.
Whether hosting a virtual event for customers or a weekly team meeting on Zoom, being able to deliver a high-quality video experience requires corporate AV pros to keep up with the latest video over IP technology and trends including new protocols, platforms and codecs. Secure Reliable Transport (SRT), NewTek Network Device Interface (NDI) and SMPTE 2110 represent just a few to have surfaced and seen broad adoption in corporate AV environments, each with its own advantages.
SRT, for instance, is designed to diminish latency and enhance streaming security through encryption, allowing high quality video to be safely transported over the public internet. NDI supports low-bandwidth applications and is compatible with a wide range of devices, including consumer laptops, with the ability to transport video over 1GigE connectivity. In the case of SMPTE 2110, dedicated higher bandwidth pipelines and uncompressed video can be shared across the globe for image critical needs. In some instances, 3G- or 12G-SDI and SMPTE 2110 might be used in a hybrid setup, but quite a bit of delivery will be done through content delivery networks (CDNs), with the use of high-quality video codecs like HEVC or MPEG 4 – all using the public internet to transport video. At the end of the day, corporate AV teams can choose from a range of options; combining approaches that suit their specific needs will always yield the best results.
For all the advantages that video over IP technology has brought to the space, it’s also introduced new bottlenecks. Companies with existing infrastructure want to make the most of their investments, and with so many different standards, protocols and codecs in play, there’s a growing need to be able to move more seamlessly between them. Fortunately, there are new solutions emerging to help bridge the gap between legacy SDI equipment and the various IP technologies, protocols and standards. It’s an area that AJA is heavily invested in and working to deliver improvements for with solutions like BRIDGE NDI 3G and the BRIDGE LIVE streaming gateway with NDI support. That said, most corporate AV teams are perfectly content delivering high quality HD streams. To that end, there are many intuitive and cost-efficient tools like AJA HELO that provide a simple way to stream content to a CDN or social media platform.
Yet another, but equally important, emerging trend in corporate AV is the use of USB-equipped capture devices. They allow companies to up level the quality of streams by connecting the devices to a higher quality camera versus the standard webcam, ensuring a more polished signal across platforms like Zoom and Teams. Scan conversion represents yet another area of growth in the space, as corporate AV teams require a simple path to combine presentation materials with live video.
Overall, when it comes to technological investments in corporate AV, we’re seeing more companies try to balance product spend, reliability and support, and seek out the solutions that provide the best return on investment over a longer duration. Right now, it seems that the Video over IP evolution will have a crucial seat at the table in these transactions. Given its continued evolution and as well as other advancements in the corporate AV sector, I anticipate that it’s going to be a very exciting few years.