IP video streaming is becoming an essential collaboration tool within a strategic unified communications initiative. A rapidly growing number of companies are beginning to integrate video with other established UC tools – such as IM, telephony and e-mail – to allow users to search for and view live and on-demand video. These companies are economically broadcasting HD-quality streaming video over their corporate LANs and WANs, and the public Internet. One of many reasons behind the adoption is that streaming video combines the universal accessibility of voice over IP (VoIP) technology, the real-time immediacy and visual impact of video conferencing, and the global reach of user-generated content characterized by YouTube.
Companies like Vodafone are enabling employees in their 45-plus operating locations worldwide to conduct ad hoc, live and on-demand video broadcasts to hundreds or thousands of employees. Government agencies such as the Departments of the Interior, Health and Human Services, and all branches of the U.S. Military are following President Obama's lead and using streaming video to communicate in a personal and impactful way to their constituencies. Educational institutions like Texas A&M are streaming lectures to remote students, and broadcasting large sporting events.
Why is the market for this technology heating up now? It used to be that if you put live or on-demand video over your IP data network, it would voraciously eat up bandwidth. Video compression approaches have improved dramatically, and most organizations now have the requisite LAN/WAN infrastructure to support IP video. Storage costs have declined dramatically, making on-demand video highly economical. These enabling technologies and infrastructure have quietly passed the tipping point, and replaced technical challenges with cost-effective and workable solutions.
Employees and customers increasingly expect to use the same rich media communications in the workplace that they've adopted in their personal lives. And reaching them outside the office is not a problem -- broadband to the home and to mobile devices is increasingly pervasive.
The result is a “democratization” of video-based communications. The technology is no longer limited to point-to-point video conferencing or highly produced broadcasted events. It puts advanced video communication into the hands of every employee across the enterprise, and allows them to incorporate rich media content into their work. Companies are harnessing this user-generated content to create valuable digital assets. Equally important, the use of streaming video can significantly curtail travel, event and training costs, to the benefit of the organization's pocketbook and the environment.
Distributed organizations are using the intimacy of video to help create and preserve corporate culture – which is particularly important in turbulent times. They are finding that video webcasting is a far more compelling way to communicate inside and outside their organizations. An increasing number of studies have shown that body language and facial expressions greatly enhance the impact and retention of a spoken message.
Organizations incorporate live and on-demand IP video into their communications mix either by purchasing a premises-based platform, or by adopting a Web-based SaaS model. Either way, the solution elements are the same: a software portal to manage and view the rich media content; encoding and distribution technology to capture and transmit the video stream, record and store devices for on-demand content consumption; and decoding software an