By: Steve Vonder Haar
Henry Ford would have felt right at home in the enterprise streaming video business.
The pioneering car maker once declared that you could have any color Model T that you wanted – as long as it was black.
Such standardization was necessary to keep early production lines rolling efficiently. Introducing flexibility into the manufacturing process would simply bring with it complexity and costs that would make it impossible to make cars viable for the mass market.
The production discipline of the nascent automobile market provides an object lesson of sorts as we work our way through the evolution of the enterprise streaming technology sector. For more than a decade, the complexity of technologies needed to enable streaming in the enterprise has shaped how vendors develop their products and how their customers have implemented them.
Essentially, enterprise streaming platform vendors have been selling the video equivalent of Model Ts. Not a lot of flashiness here. Rather, companies have valued end-to-end platform solutions that enable basic streaming capabilities on corporate networks. Just as the Model T offered basic, reliable transportation, this generation of streaming platforms has enabled functional video communications for the corporate masses.
Implementing enterprise streaming certainly is not a trivial task. It’s tough work. That’s why companies historically have gravitated to turnkey end-to-end streaming platforms. These solutions offer a range of capabilities – from content capture to viewership measurement – in a standardized package where all the features are designed to work together on an integrated basis.
But this approach is beginning to change in a way that will have significant impact on the way companies buy and deploy streaming technologies over time. As the solutions that enable streaming become more reliable, corporate users will have access to more options than ever before to “mix-and-match” features from different vendors to create a streaming solution optimized to address their needs. The age of the prototypical “end-to-end streaming platform” may be nearing its sunset.
Indeed, modularity will soon become the watchword for this sector. The ability for businesses to plug favored workflow features, such as a specific video capture appliance, a hosted video editing application or a service enhancing viewership analytics, will become increasingly important to the corporate purchase decision makers evaluating the platform they want to buy.
In the process, the role of system integrators will become increasingly important in the enterprise streaming market over the next several years. While corporate customers will demand the ability to deploy the best-of-breed applications made more accessible by modularity, they still will be hesitant to take on the challenges that remain in knitting all these technologies together.
Integrators can help make sense of the confusion that can arise when business users work to deploy platforms that bring together best-of-breed applications made by different vendors. Even though software vendors are moving towards making their applications more open and interchangeable, somebody still has to make all the pieces fit together.
If an executive wants to deploy a video capture appliance from one vendor and match that with a content management solution developed by another provider and an audience analytics service from a third provider, for instance, integrators will play a central role in making sure all the technologies mesh.
The coming wave of streaming integrators will originate from a range of backgrounds. Some will be existing streaming platform vendors who grow more flexible in incorporating software from outside developers into their solution. Others are likely to be sellers of other business communications services, such as web conferencing, who will weave streaming capabilities into their solutions to expand the set of offerings they can sell to their existing customer base.
Also, look for companies now involved primarily in selling traditional video conferencing solutions to expand the scope of their business to emphasize streaming video capabilities more than ever before. Expect large technology service organizations, such as IBM and Accenture, to continue playing a significant role in enabling streaming deployments, as well.
The prospect of an expanded role for integrators in the streaming sector is a good sign for the industry, reflecting a growing maturity in the market. As we see more integrators embrace the opportunities, we just may get you into streaming’s equivalent of a shiny new red Corvette sooner than you think.
Steve Vonder Haar is a Senior Analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org