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Walkthrough Wednesdays

Business Video Comes in Many Shapes and Sizes


Much like Mojo Nixon's "Elvis Is Everywhere"- VIDEO IS EVERYWHERE!

As marketing professionals we say that video is pervasive.  It sounds more impressive that way.  The fact of the matter is the moment cameras became small enough to fit on mobile devices, with a quality that rivaled larger hand held cameras, it was just a question of time before real-time video would be delivered to and from those devices.  That time is here.  However, as we read in Enterprise Video: Crossing the Tipping Point in 2013 there's much more to it then real-time video communications.  Let's look at the different shapes and sizes business video encompasses in a bit more detail:

  • Telepresence- Telepresence has been thought of as an immersive experience in specially designed studio rooms with large high-definition video and directional speakers, but with the availability of video being more pervasive we need to broaden the definition of Telepresence.  I like that the Wikipedia page that I linked to in the bullet title, actually has a broadened definition of Telepresence.  And, if it's in Wikipedia it must be true.

I am continually surprised at how pervasive Telepresence video is at Cisco.  In the early days it was just the immersive rooms, but now there are so many different endpoints that are Telepresence enabled, it's astounding.  Not only are there different Cisco TelePresence endpoints from the immersive TX Series to the movable MX Series to desktop EX Series able to join the same Telepresence session, but so can employees using video phones from their desks or home Cisco Virtual Office.  It becomes even cooler when you count the Cisco Jabber soft clients that allow others to join that same Telepresence conference from laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

With Cisco WebEx Telepresence the ability to connect from any device and location is even greater.  You may be thinking "one is Telepresence and the other is web conferencing", but if you consider the functionality of the two, it is the same- 1:N audio with video and content sharing.  Today the difference is that one is a cloud service and the other is on-premises.  I can now participate in a Telepresence call with anybody from any location using any device.

  • IPTV- consider this streaming media in which content is multicast to various end points.  While Wikipedia tells us that IPTV can be used for watching video on demand or time-shifted shows, in the context of business video I think of it solely as a live broadcast.  The most compelling use case for live broadcast in the enterprise is corporate communications.  At Cisco we've been doing this for quite some time.  As you can well imagine a company of our size and geographical disbursement trying to put everybody into a single conference room at the same time is not an option.  Executives present from a studio environment and I can watch live from any location on the network.  If I have a question, I type it into a text box on the screen and an onsite moderator asks the question on my behalf.  The use of IPTV extends down to organizational and departmental levels, as well as, virtual teams that may span mulitple departments.

Aside from corporate communications this technology is commonly used in training purposes for internal and external participants.  Most often called "webinars", but in my experience many webinars are voice and content sharing only with a disregard for the video aspect.

  • Video on Demand (VoD)- complete video files that are posted to a server and users request to view them at which point they're immediately streamed.  It's also possible to allow users to download the entire video file for viewing locally and not connected to the network.  Often times Telepresence and IPTV videos are recorded "live" then posted for "replay" so those unable to attend can view what they missed.  A practical use for VoD is self-service training purposes.  Training videos are created in a studio environment (a desktop can also be considered a studio environment) and tagged for search purposes.  In some cases users my start at a specific point within a VoD based on search criteria.  A training officer may also choose to have an online quiz that ensures the content has been properly understood.

Leadership teams are also using VoDs to post video messages into enterprise workspaces.  A message is recorded from any video enabled endpoint (Telepresence room, webcam, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone) and posted to the enterprise workspace.  Members of the organization receive a notice of a new message and can view it at their convenience.

  • Digital Sign- a form of push video where content is sent to a particular end point.  The end point may also be a soft client running on a device.  The end point may be fixed to a wall or mobile, but it's in an "always on" state.  Most commonly used for advertising.  I've seen digital billboards aside the highway down to small signs next to a conference room door listing a name, agenda, floorplan, etc.  In many cases these signs are interactive.  A person my initiate an interactive session by touching the sign in a kiosk fasion to bring up requested information or even a Telepresence session to speak live with a service representative.  There are even digital signs that recognize your presence through unique identifiers such as a mobile phone or RFID chip and push specific content based on your preferences.

  • Surveillance- real time video feeds for monitoring and/or security purposes.  This blog is in the collaboration section and from a collaboration perspective the use of surveillance video is limited.  It may be used as a trigger to a collaborative session.  For example, on a large campus with multiple buildings surveillance cameras may be located in each lobby.  When a person enters the lobby and are spotted a Telepresence session may begin as a virtual lobby receptionist who will validate identification of the guest and have a temporary access badge printed on location.

More importantly, I call out the use of surveillance as part of the requirements for your overall business video strategy.  As you consider video for your collaboration needs, you must also work with other departments, such as security, for their video needs to understand the full impact on the network.

There you have it, five forms of business video: interactive, broadcast, pull, push, and IP cameras.  Each needs to be taken into consideration as you plan your collaboration strategy, determine requirements, and execute the roadmap.  Think about your different use cases for video and the personas of the users.  The video requirements for an executive differ greatly from the video requirements for a mobile worker.  As you develop your video foundation, consider how to video enable business applications.  Soon you'll find an ever growing culture of video collaboration as it becomes the way business is done.

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