Best Practices for Enterprise Streaming: Part 1

Streaming Media '99: Justifying projects At Streaming Media '99, members of the industry vanguard shared tips for successful deployment of audio and video on corporate intranets. Here's what they had to say about justifying projects.

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Brian Heukroth: Thank you Richard. OK, Roger.

Roger Dean: Coming from a financial services background I think we would look after the value of money to start with, and, what's it going to take for us to do this on a regular basis. Our experience is that initially when we produce trials and we start to roll this out to a limited set of people, people find that it's wonderful, it's engaging, and it's rich in content and it grabs their attention. I'm not suggesting that streaming media is the sort of thing that you'd want to stream for three hours on end. You're more likely to keep people's attention for two, three minutes anyway, so use it sparingly.

But if I had to sum up, you know, a few tips here, practice is one of them. Don't do it live, with two minutes beforehand just to make sure that the video's working; get your talent ready, your people ready. Think about the budget for this. You're going to have to find equipment. Then, you're going to have to think about reusing the content. You produce it once, you would love to reuse it, because it's expensive to produce. So how are you going to reuse it? Well, you've heard already about engines, and retrievals, and indexes, and so on in content. You should definitely think about that. Asset management, as you grow in terms of multimedia on your network. No good in having it on your local sort of hard drive or a file server where you can email something, you need a dedicated facility for it.

So, the other thing that I would mention is, I think in general today the quality of streaming media is OK. It's not wonderful, it's not as poor as it was, say, a year ago. But what is absolutely sacrosanct in the actual production that you're doing is audio. People will put up with two frames a second, or they'll put up with still pictures. But they won't put up with audio that is jerky, or it's crackly, or it's just inaudible. So think about that, because that I believe is where the key to quality is.

Brian Heukroth: Now, let's go back to Dan. We're going to start a new question, which is, How do we advise project managers to justify their projects internally? What are approaches that have perhaps worked best? You have mentioned making certain things intuitive and fun. I don't know too many managers who would buy off on doing it just for fun. So, perhaps you could elaborate.

Daniel Agan: Well, I think that there are a number of tangible benefits that have to and can be quantified, not the least of which is things like reduced costs in travel, reduced costs of paper, implementations from particularly things like CEO communications, and that kind of thing … supplier and extranet kinds of implementations where instead of constantly sending out material, or actually replicating effort, you're doing it once and in kind of a broadcast mode, to your suppliers or vendors or partners or whatever the case may be. But I also think there are a number of intangible benefits that frequently people overlook, because they get very hung up on the dollars and cents end, and Roger alluded to this a moment ago, and that is, how engaging video is, and the ability to actually have a message resonate with someone, particularly if you're a CEO of an organization and it's important to you. That's an intangible benefit that I'm not sure you can put a dollars and cents figure on, but you can certainly measure.

And it takes some effort, and it takes some time but, but those things are measurable and they are important to the cultural well-being; the health and well-being of any large organization. So I would say that there are any number of tangible measures that can be put into place, but don't overlook the intangible measures as well; and they might be a little squishy, and IT departments may not react terribly well to those kinds of things, but if you actually walk in with employee satisfaction surveys and other empirical evidence, or other statistical evidence, to demonstrate the value of actually having an engaging medium of communication, partner performance, partner increases, partner performance in training, then I think you have the basis of a very compelling story.

Next week: the panel discusses different approaches to justifying enterprise streaming.

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