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Business video: Get ready for the surge

By Janice Le, general manager, Cisco Digital Media Systems Business Unit, special to Network World
June 07, 2011 02:39 PM ET

Network World - This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Video traffic is expected to grow from 50% of all Internet traffic today to 90% by 2013. In volume that will be equal to transmitting the equivalent of 10 billion DVDs across the network every month.

Businesses that understand the implications of video to communicate, collaborate, educate and protect people and assets stand to gain a significant competitive advantage. Video is transforming enterprise activities from executive communications and training to physical security, marketing and sales.

TREND: Enterprise video moving beyond the meeting room

To succeed, companies need to understand three game-changing advances in business video, identify initial use cases that will generate a return on investment, and prepare their networks for the surge.

New advances in business video

Video content has become more useful because of three recent breakthroughs. The first is non-linear access: the ability to skip and jump right to relevant segments based on keywords or speaker. This is enabled by automatic transcript generation through speech-to-text technology and speaker recognition.

Why is non-linear access important? Most people can pay sustained attention only for about 20 minutes, and the average attention span for online video in particular is just about a minute. Non-linear access helps people quickly find relevant information without having to watch the entire video.

Second, with the rise of smartphones and tablet devices, video production is no longer limited to large video studios run by corporate communications and training departments. Now, employees can create video from their personal devices with little technical support, in some cases eliminating the need to create a full-length product data sheet.

Finally, video is benefiting from the social computing explosion. Enterprise video sharing solutions allow employees to watch videos, rate them, add comments, and even associate comments with specific sections of the video for viewing by subsequent viewers. Not only will sharing video enable creators to know how effective their content is, it also opens up another communication channel for rich employee interaction and collaboration.

Identifying the best use cases for video

Most organizations initially identify one or two use cases for video based on where they are seeing the most demand in their organization, and then later add others as video is adopted throughout. Popular uses include:

Corporate communications: Compared to email and voice-only conferences, video communication drives better employee engagement when body visual cues can be seen, especially at important internal events such as companywide speeches and earnings announcements.

Training and learning: At Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, personnel can access training videos on network-connected digital signs in break rooms or conference rooms, desktops or even mobile devices. Centralized management of training videos saves time and trainers can easily track who has watched which video. Duke University's Fuqua School of Business in North Carolina also uses video to engage its audience: Faculty can bring experts into the classroom from anywhere using telepresence. Recorded video of these lectures can then be captured and accessible by students for later playback.

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