Enriching the Natural Habitat for Executives with Webcasting

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By: Steve Vonder Haar

When I was a kid, I never liked going to the zoo.

I hated to see animals in the concrete cages, seemingly locked in a prison. It didn’t seem right to me that they should sacrifice their life and preferred surroundings just to entertain bratty kids like me.

So, perhaps it’s not surprising that today I sometimes still wince when I see kings of the corporate jungle pushed outside their natural habitat to deliver streaming video messages to key audiences.

While many chief executive officers are great presenters in any venue, some simply do not belong on a stage or in a television studio. Instead, they are most comfortable in the customary surroundings of their corporate conference rooms.

That can be both good news and bad news for companies seeking to leverage webcasting to increase the visibility of their key executives, whether with employees or external audiences – or both.

On the positive side, conference rooms already are evolving into usable venues for video production. Quite a few are well-appointed from a decorating perspective, offering great backgrounds for executive video presentations. And thanks to legacy installations of traditional video conferencing solutions and telepresence systems, many already are equipped with the appropriate lighting, cameras and microphones needed for quality video production and webcasting.

Another positive of the conference room environment is that it serves as a familiar setting for executives who already spend more time meeting in conference rooms than even they would care to admit.

It all comes together to make the conference room the “broadcast studio of choice” for many executives developing video content for distribution to audiences that can extend beyond the reach of traditional video conferencing units. Just like the animals in today’s progressive zoos – which have re-structured their old-fashioned concrete cages to put their animals in more natural settings – your executives will benefit when they can present from the comfortable, familiar surroundings of the conference room.

While presenting from the conference room is favored by many executives, though, a good number of organizations still face a technical challenge in integrating streaming technologies that can expand the reach of video content originating from these rooms. The goal is to use webcasting technologies to extend the reach of conferencing room video to viewers sitting at desktop computers or watching via tablet devices.

Video conferencing leaders such as Cisco and Polycom are now baking such streaming capabilities into many of their latest product solutions. But a raft of legacy video conferencing deployments could benefit from enhanced streaming integration. Indeed, while today’s conference rooms and the native video conferencing solutions they contain are tremendous tools for interactive collaboration, the add-on solutions needed to take this content and then distribute it on a one-to-many basis are still evolving.

Part of the challenge in transforming conference rooms into “corporate studios” that can leverage webcasting technologies is that the vision of what makes for an ideal deployment keeps shifting. Two years ago, for instance, the idea of making video conferencing content available via tablet computers may have been viewed by some as a futuristic novelty. Today, the capability to distribute to mobile devices represents basic table stakes to vendors aspiring to compete in this sector.

In today’s market, one common solution for better leveraging streaming capabilities is to place a capture appliance in the conference room.  Such an approach takes the video conferencing feed and transforms it into appropriate formats suitable for online, one-to-many distribution.

The challenge for corporate users of video conferencing is to select the right technology solution to serve as this gateway to the streaming world. Each organization has to look for the solution that provides the appropriate mix of content management / archiving capabilities coupled with the flexibility to encode content into formats that can reach a broad range of devices.

The key watchword for this purchase decision is “flexibility.” You not only want a solution that addresses your webcasting demands today. You also want a platform nimble enough to integrate support for fresh applications and emerging video formats that may play a role in business streaming communications over time.

No executive could complain about that video combination: familiar presentation setting, increasing the ROI from investments already sunk into video conferencing, and achieving ongoing flexibility by supporting maximum distribution options. That makes corporate video easier to produce and distribute than ever before.

At the end of the day this will allow you – the communications professional – to maintain some level of control over your own corporate video zoo.  If you want to hang a “Don’t Feed the CEO” sign on the door of your conference room, we’ll just keep it as our little secret.

Steve Vonder Haar is a Senior Analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at svonder@wainhouse.com


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