Streaming video content is booming. Its popularity increase over the last few years can largely be tied to the increasingly global nature of our world and the convenience offered for companies facing the challenge of managing dispersed teams. COVID-19 has only further intensified the surge in streaming content, and even as the pandemic eases through vaccines and treatments, the demand will likely only keep growing.
As enterprise video streaming has moved from a nice-to-have feature into being mission-critical, the wide range of benefits it offers has become increasingly clear. Enterprise video streaming – whether for live events or video on demand – brings our world closer together. From, corporate communications and employee townhalls to customer and partner events, enterprise video streaming provides ways to reach out to far-flung colleagues and customers. It also allows your stakeholders to get key information at times best suited to their individual schedules and reduces travel costs – a feature that also benefits the environment.
Of course, understanding the importance of enterprise video streaming is just the first step when making the right choice for your organization. Here are some tips on what to look for when choosing enterprise video streaming solutions.
Solutions to Look for in Enterprise Video Streaming
1. Enterprise Video Streaming Solutions Need to Include an All-Device Video Player
We all access the internet – and watch videos – differently. Some of us prefer to use our mobile phones. Others will use tablets, laptops, or even desktop computers. Different operating systems, browsers, and versions are also a factor, as is internet speed. That’s why you need to make sure the video player for any enterprise video streaming solution you’re considering is “all-device.”
With an all-device video player, your customers will always be able to access high quality in a way that fits their personal technology choices. How does this work? By using a protocol by HLS that takes video and chops it up in bite-size pieces before transmitting in the right format for the end-user’s HTML5 video player.
This is known as using adaptive bitrate. A very simplified way to explain this is that the original file is turned into multiple versions at different qualities. The system constantly monitors the strength of the connection, increasing the quality when the signal is strong and decreasing it if the signal degrades. That means that if the viewer is, say, on a mobile connection that’s fading in and out, their player won’t suddenly stop to buffer or get jittery. Their stream will change so they continue to have a smooth viewing experience.
If all those terms sound overwhelming to you, that’s okay. You can leave acronyms to your IT department and your service provider, while you’ll be able to deliver and enjoy great video performance.
2. Enterprise Video Streaming Solutions Need to Support Both Live and VoD Content
Your enterprise video streaming solution needs to work for any type of video you may wish to stream. This includes both live broadcasts – like townhalls, virtual conferences, and special events – as well as the recording of these live broadcasts and/or pre-recorded content available by video-on-demand (VOD).
Even if your organization isn’t yet producing all these different types of content, making sure you go with an enterprise video streaming solution that can support different needs within your organization and maximize your return on investment is essential.
3. Enterprise Video Streaming Solutions Require Enterprise-Grade Security
You need to be able to trust that your content will be seen only by the people authorized to see it. The video platform needs robust access control that’s also granular enough to differentiate between roles and types of content. The most convenient will use your organization’s SSO and existing access rules, so you don’t need a whole new set of rules and passwords. Bonus points if they integrate with your existing intranet systems. You’ll also want to make sure your video streaming platform complies with your organization’s governance rules.
4. Great eCDN is Also Essential to Enterprise Video Streaming Solutions
eCDN stands for Enterprise Content Delivery Network. eCDN is part of your video streaming solution in that it makes sure video (already cut up into those correctly formatted bite-size pieces by HLS) flows smoothly to the end-user, so there’s no lag, pauses, or glitches in their video experience. These are all risks when streaming video content is in high demand, but eCDN basically helps avoid network traffic jams that can have a negative impact on video streaming experiences. But with great eCDN, you won’t need to worry! eCDN is particularly important when you’ve got a lot of people on the same network.
5. Detailed Analytics Are a Key Part of Any Enterprise Video Streaming Solution
Streaming video is great. Even better? Knowing how that video is being used, by who, when, so that you can serve your customers, employees, and other stakeholders with ever-increasing effectiveness. Any enterprise video streaming solution you consider should have robust analytics capabilities. Not only are you looking for great data from your enterprise video streaming solution, but you’re also looking for an easy-to-use interface that allows easy access to everyone in your organization that needs it. Remember, that not all analytics are created equal. The best enterprise video streaming solution analytics dashboards with provide both real-time quality-of-service data that will allow you to troubleshoot in real-time, real-time engagement data that lets you know if your event is successful, and VOD data with enough detail for real business intelligence. You should be able to find out not just which videos were watched, but which parts of the videos were watched (or not!). This can help you refine your streaming video content over time by finding the perfect length for your audience, and discovering which type of content draws your viewers in… or turns them off.
6. Your Enterprise Video Streaming Solution Should Have Great API Support
What’s an API?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. Which, depending on what your job role is, may or may not be clarifying. Basically, APIs are a way to let the people visiting your website do something (like adding an event to their calendar) without leaving your website. APIs make your customers’ lives easier. They also make it easier to keep your audience focused on your offerings.
In the case of enterprise video streaming solutions, being able to customize your video platform with APIs allows you much greater control over the experience available to your users. APIs can do things like controlling your live stream configurations and determine whether users can see who else is watching a recording at the same time. APIs are all about the bells and whistles you can provide your stakeholders, so you’ll want to make sure the enterprise video streaming solution you provide has great support for a broad range of APIs and is, in fact, API-focused.
7. White-label Branding Is an Essential Part of Any Enterprise Video Streaming Solution
When streaming video, the focus should be on your company. That’s why it’s essential to choose an enterprise video streaming solution with a video player that won’t load you down with logos from your service provider. This is called white-label branding and is all about making your enterprise video streaming solution provider invisible so that your corporate branding can shine through.
As you evaluate enterprise video solutions, not only should you ask if white-label branding is available, you should ask how easy it is to customize everything from the video player to the portal to the mobile app with your own corporate look and whether you’ll be able to make regular updates to this look as part of special events, seasonal shifts, and other promotions.
8. Don’t Overlook Customer Support When Choosing an Enterprise Video Streaming Solution
Let’s get real. No matter how easy something is to install and use, sometimes you’ll need customer support, whether that’s to solve a problem or to take your implementation to the next level. Making sure your enterprise video streaming solution has good, reliable, prompt, and individualized customer support is essential. How your provider serves their customers will have a key impact on how you serve yours. Additionally, you’ll want to have the option to receive white-glove services when working on high-stakes events. Providers that offer white glove services provide remote support before, during, and after your event as well as remote production services, including studio production and simulive.
Choosing The Right Enterprise Video Streaming Solution For Your Needs
Most any enterprise video streaming solution you consider will say they have the eight key features listed above. Your challenge will be to evaluate how different providers deliver those features and provide your organization with the best set-up and ongoing support for your needs.
Here are some key questions to ask:
1. How “all-device” is their video player really?
Sure, a video player might be designed to support all devices, but if a particular solution has mostly only worked with users on certain platforms, you’ll need to check if it’s really a good fit for your organization.
2. Can a particular enterprise video streaming solution grow with your needs?
Whether this means an increase in audience size, video consumption, and usage, or corporate users creating and uploading more video content, you’ll want an enterprise video streaming solution that grows with you.
3. Can you find the videos you’re looking for?
Many live streaming solutions are not as handy when it comes to VOD. If you’ve got a lot of recordings, you’ll want to make sure you have a sustainable way of storing, organizing, managing, and searching them later, or you’ll have a huge headache a few months down the line.
4. What’s their eCDN and general network optimization track record?
Making sure to avoid network bottlenecks is relatively easy to avoid when it comes to VoD, but it’s important to find out how your potential enterprise video streaming provider has performed when it comes to high-pressure, high-demand live events. Find out their history not just with eCDN, but with other network optimization options including P2P and multicasts.
5. Is the analytics platform easy to use… even for someone who isn’t a data analyst?
Maybe your organization is lucky enough to have dedicated staff who can look at performance data, but in most cases, tracking the performance of enterprise video streaming efforts will be just one part of someone’s job description. Making sure the analytics platform makes sense not just to data experts, but to colleagues with other specialties who need to become experts on your streaming performance is key. Look for high levels are granularity on both performance and use, as well as actionable insights. And be sure all your analytics are coming from your enterprise video streaming solution provider and not third-party vendors.
6. Are there a range of customer service levels? What should you expect in a crisis?
Many enterprise video streaming solution providers offer different levels of customer service at different price points. You’ll need to make sure the ones in your budget work for you. You’ll also want to see if it’s easy to change customer service levels in case you need more support for a special event; in cases like these, you may even want to consider white-glove services, so make sure they’re available. And, if something goes really wrong, you’ll want to know what sort of support you’ll get in a crisis.
7. Does this platform integrate with the platforms and workflows you already use?
Integrations with the other platforms your company uses can reduce headaches and really help with both adoption and getting the most out of your investment. The last thing anyone wants is yet another place they have to go and log in to.
Top Enterprise Video Streaming Solutions To Consider
Now that you have an idea of how to approach finding the enterprise video streaming solution that’s right for your organization’s needs, here are some places to start as you search for your perfect fit.
Kaltura offers both on-premises and cloud-based enterprise video streaming solutions, for a wide range of internal and external use cases extending from live and real-time video through sophisticated VOD management. Recently upgraded analytics provide significant levels of detail through finely sliced data analyzing both quality of service and engagement. Highly customizable video portals and players make white-labeling straightforward. Substantial video creation tools and interactive features are also available, and scalability (including the option of advanced eCDN ) can support events with participants into the six figures and beyond.
Microsoft’s enterprise video streaming solution is rooted in being able to integrate it with other Microsoft tools. Some limited video creation tools and customization is available. Both video-on-demand and live event streaming services are available, with basic engagement analytics (quality of service analytics are third-party) and scalability up to 25,000 participants for live streaming.
Qumu is particularly focused on internal use-cases and on-premises deployments. They offer live and video-on-demand enterprise streaming services and have a proprietary eCDN. Integrations with video conferencing solutions are available. Some customization of their video player and portal are available, as are basic analytics and editing (without interactivity).
VBrick is focused on on-premises deployments and offers a range of integrations with video conferencing solutions. They support both internal and external use-cases and have been particularly focused on the government market. Basic analytics, editing, and management tools are also available with limited customization options.
5. Moving Image
Moving Image is focused on the European market and has a webcasting plus eCDN offering. GDPR compliance and data protection are a significant part of their offerings. They also have a video portal product but are mostly focused on external use-cases related to client marketing.
Ultimately, choosing the right enterprise video streaming solution is all about finding the perfect fit between a provider and your needs both today and tomorrow.
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