By: Steve Vonder Haar
When designing a streaming solution, it’s not a bad idea to know a thing or two about human nature.
Truth be told, many of us are absent-minded. Others don’t want to mess up their day fiddling with hard-to-use technology. And still others are just plain lazy.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. We all have our own shortcomings. Unfortunately, the success of a significant streaming investment may just boil down to designing a solution around our common failings.
In the case of streaming video, that means creating a platform that does all that it can to simplify the way content is captured.
Once upon a time, that meant designing special capture encoders with a single big button on the front of the box that allowed presenters to begin recording their lectures by pressing that single button. With a single push, the cameras turn on, the recorder is activated and the finished presentation is captured for later viewing. How could anybody mess that up?
As it turns out, though, even single-button recording is not quite simple enough for all users. If a presenter forgets to push the button, his presentation never gets recorded. And this happens often enough to be a problem for administrators. No recordings means that archives have less content.
Along the way, missed recordings also undermine presenters’ basic trust of the entire system. If they become frustrated when their presentations are not captured because a button isn’t pushed at the right time, they could opt to just give up altogether and table any efforts to record their presentations.
Put it altogether and you have an environment that is not optimized for capturing content. And cutting the content flow undermines the perceived value of a streaming platform for end users trying to find information embedded in rich media presentations.
Fortunately, technology offers us yet another antidote to our collective streaming sloth. The rise of hosted solutions, for instance, makes it possible to network a series of content capture appliances and manage them on a central basis. This makes it possible for administrators to establish timed triggers to start recordings automatically based on a designated weekly schedule or meeting schedules tracked with a centralized booking calendar.
This further reduces the chance of human error fouling up the streaming capture process. Essentially, the streaming workflow can no longer be derailed by absent minded professors. Automatic recordings translate into more actual content production. And more presentations in the archive help build a library that has a better chance at offering the piece of content relevant to end users on the hunt for a specific piece of information.
No automated recording system is foolproof, of course. Pre-programming appliances to launch capture sessions could sometimes result in running cameras and capture devices even if a particular meeting, presentation or training session is cancelled or does not take place. This is not a major crime, however. It’s much easier to delete a worthless file than trying to create video from an important session that was never captured in the first place.
Managing appliances on a networked basis also allows organizations to staff centralized administration desks where trained staff can monitor multiple event recordings happening simultaneously and address problems in each room as they emerge. So, not only does centralized recording management help create more content, it also it can help shave down the costs sometimes associated with capturing individual streaming events.
So, you can tell your bosses that you’re implementing this type of scheduling automation solution to cut costs and improve services for end users. But we know the real reason for putting these systems into place: They would record presentations more reliably than would be the case if you left streaming responsibilities in the hands of presenters and end users. But shhhh! I promise not to tell anyone. This can be our little secret.
Steve Vonder Haar is a Senior Analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.