Webcasting for the Enterprise – part 1

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The landscape of webcasting has rapidly evolved over the past few years. In this post, I’ll cover which tools and strategies will work best for setting up a low-cost, highly effective and ROI-based webcasting program/system for the Enterprise, and what to stay away from…

Back in 1999, I streamed my first training webcast across the continent, from Mountain View, CA to a remote office in India. Even though the video stream was very low quality and the latency was more than 30 seconds, it was still very exciting. The ability to offer up-to-the-minute, train-the-trainer programs from corporate offices proved to be quite effective in order to help our customers understand how to use our e-commerce products, so THEY can take their business online. It was obviously much cheaper and more time-effective than flying people out. Back then, this grassroots webcasting effort was mostly a local encoder that I would take to classrooms to originate the stream, and a local server in a make-shift datacenter closet. Everything within the digital video and streaming workflow had to be manually set up, customized and monitored.

10 years later, anyone can stream video through their cell phone (kyte, qik) or laptops (LiveStream, Justin.tv, Ustream.tv), most media providers provide live webcasting (ON24, Origin Digital and many others), online video platforms are rolling out live video streaming (Ooyala, Brightcove, etc.) and there are lots of tools for the geeky type who still love to handle the technology hands-on. With so many options to choose from, how can you know which one will work best for your Enterprise?

Just like picking either YouTube or an Online Video Platform for your on-demand media content, you have to first start with your business goals. It also helps to figure out how much support/resources that you have available on-hands, along with a good grasp how the frequency of these webcasts for calibration purposes.

Your business goals could range from increasing employee productivity, to fostering your potential clients and communities towards a qualified Lead or making an online purchase. That being out of the way, the next step is about your content and how to show it in its best light possible. Here are three basic examples:

  • If your content is your CEO on stage announcing an exciting product, by all means this should most likely be a traditional large live video stream.
  • If your content is your technical subject matter expert doing a deep dive for your training organization, you would be looking at having a full-screen slides/screensharing+audio type of webcast.
  • If your content is about your latest earnings announcement, then you might want to look for an audio+slides solution.

As you can see, your webcast needs to adapt to your content, and to your audience. These are just the building blocks for your digital media/event strategy. You can enrich this with live chats, social bookmarking, commenting, rating, etc. I’ll cover this in a future post.

Last crucial step is determining which service to use. Again I’ll go through three basic environments:

  • If you are the only one in your company supporting all online events with no video production help, you might pick a vendor that provides the biggest bang-for-the-buck. They may not be able to provide everything you’d want for all webcast types, but they’ll handle all the logistics, system redundancies, registration, metrics and overall event webcast production. That will cost you though, so beware.
  • If you have limited resources available with a small team, you may want to try using a livestream/justin.tv/ustream.tv type solution. Basic set -up and technical know-how is required, but the overall costs for streaming are very low even if you take your headcount costs into consideration.
  • If you have studios, infrastructure support and a large team, you may also already have an online video platform. So the least expensive route may be to go through them for live streaming. In this scenario, you would also have the privilege to mix-and-match best of breed solutions based on the specific needs. You could use a Justin.tv for your community webcasts, have some of your employees stream video via their cell phones while on the show floor using qik, book a specialized vendor for custom jobs, and leverage your resources to deliver an in-house solution.

All of this is great, but obviously, you still have to keep an eye on how your operational costs compare to the business generated from these activities.

So how do you get ROI from live webcasting? It is a mix of cost-savings and Lead generation.

Cost-savings can be measured against traditional broadcast methods or vendor solutions (if you have you own in-house shop). Lead generation is through registration (for the webcast) and behavior tracking (on the webcast landing page). At the end of a live broadcast, you should be able to show your management the estimated sales pipeline and leads based on the total number of attendees. If a Lead turns into a paying customer, you would get another data point that you can tie into your quarter’s accomplishments from your webcasting investment.

In ‘part 2’ of this topic, I’ll cover the pro’s and con’s of setting up your very own in-house production and infrastructure to support webcasting.


~ by laurentbridenne on November 4, 2009.

2 Responses to “Webcasting for the Enterprise – part 1”

  1. One question oragnizations have to answer quickly is what is the level of confidentiality of the content, and who should have access to it (internal vs external). If very confidential, internal-only content, many organizations may want their own infrastructure behind their firewall, or make sure the online platform they find has the right security level and that they’re comfortable with it. It’s an improtant question since it will impact cost, time-to-deploy, and available functionalities…

    • Agreed. Great point Thierry.
      Authentication for secured (or paid) content needs to be part of the overall solution as well.

      I find it a bit harder to understand the need for an Enterprise to invest in the deployment and maintenance of an internal infrastructure, instead of leveraging the existing external infrastructure/authentication environment.

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