Introduction to Live Video for Enterprise Communications
Most businesses that reach a certain headcount start to think about effective internal communications strategies. What mediums are best to use? What types of content get the most attention, and what’s the best method of delivery? Among the leading organizations who have the most effective internal communications, there is a growing consensus that the answer to these questions is live video for enterprise communications. Live video is interesting to consume and effective as a communications tool. It’s easily accessible and it’s getting cheaper to deploy. It’s also a natural extension of an on-demand video infrastructure which likely already exists.
But where to start? Live video can be uncharted territory for many people, so the purpose of this post is to put forward a few points that you’ll want to think about, and hopefully offer some answers.
1. Do I deploy on-premise or in the cloud?
Enterprise companies love to deploy systems on-premise, to the dismay of every tech solutions vendor out there. Is video different? Yes and no. There certainly is a case for deploying only on-premise—e.g., if you are required to do so from a security standpoint.
The more popular model, however (and popular for good reason), is a hybrid deployment. We see many organizations now taking advantage of the cloud for core live platform services that can automatically scale up and down, and then deploy caching servers (eCDN, as we call it) on-premise to make live video delivery palatable for corporate IT, and seamless for on-network viewers.
Not quite. The type of production you run depends on the type of event. For example, if you are running frequent webcasts for sales trainings, you may not need a fully-redundant multi-cam production setup. However, if you are running a C-level town hall, this is exactly what you need for webcasting. The key then is to differentiate your needs and budget for different types of solutions accordingly.
Depending on whether your organization is equipped to run live production from a gear and crew perspective, you may want to run certain events in-house and shop certain events out to a vendor. Typically we see a balance between these two scenarios to be successful. For smaller, single camera events that are frequent and less ‘mission critical’, think about installing a hardware encoder on-site that you can fire up and use when you need it. For those larger events that have significant attendance and multiple speakers, think about bringing in a vendor that understands how to run a professional, great-looking production with the correct redundancies in place.
3. What do I need to do during the broadcast itself?
When your event goes live and your audience starts to climb, it’s not the best time to relax and grab a coffee. A best practise is to monitor, in real time, several areas of your production. These are some of the things that we focus on:
- Live encoder performance: Check to make sure you maintain stable bitrate outputs, no dropped frames, no server disconnections, consistent signal input validation, and stable network throughput.
- Healthy stream ingested into live streaming servers: This means no dropped packets and confirmation of a consistently received bitrate.
- Good user experience: This is measured through low buffering values, mid to high adaptive bitrate consumption, and a low number technical support tickets.
- eCDN server load: monitoring % usage and peaks across different customer locations
4. How do I handle Q&A?
Audio Q&A died with Elvis… in the 70s. We know that a certain subset of employees still enjoys dialing into a conference line and participate in a spoken Q&A. These days, in most cases, this an unnecessarily redundant service running in conjunction to live webcasts. The best way to offer a great Q&A experience is over a webcast chat.
By using a chat feature, you make it possible for a moderator to join your presenter and handle Q&A while the presentation is running. This allows greater audience interaction overall. By enabling someone to answer questions while the presenter is speaking, you can talk to a larger proportion of your audience so they feel listened to. Questions that are specific to one person, inappropriate for a larger audience, or even just tech support related can be answered privately. Questions that are of more general interest can be answered by the presenter on air. The additional levels of communication beyond a single audio feed make for a far more personal and enriching experience.
5. How do I make sure people watch my webcast?
It’s not enough to just put the content out there. It’s time to get all Don-Draper on your employees (and market your content). If you want to attract an audience, you’ll need to put the same amount of thought into communicating with your employees as you would inviting external parties to an event. Plan out a compelling email campaign, take advantage of any social business platforms you have, and enlist the help of supervisors.
Then, once the event has aired, don’t forget about it. Get the VOD up in a timely fashion; ideally, it should be in your internal video portal, at the same URL as the live feed, so people can find it again. No matter how compelling your event, some people are going to miss it. They’ll be sick, or in a client meeting, or maybe are new and won’t join the company for another few weeks. Get the most out of your investment by making sure the recording is easy to access.
A Leap of Faith (and Metrics)
Making the jump to live video for enterprise communications can be a huge move. But as many major companies have found, video has the power to be far more effective for internal communications. It’s time!