Video conferencing, web conferencing, unified communications — what were once distinct toolsets have in the past half-decade seen the lines that separate them blur.
Traditionally, “video conferencing” implied a physical, often conference room-based video system using specialized technology that focused on face-to-face interaction. “Web conferencing,” meanwhile, referred to a less formal, desktop-and-webcam system that prioritized sharing on-screen content for presentations and webinars, with the presenter’s webcam video as an optional supporting element.
Today, however, as many web conferencing tools offer two-way video and video conferencing tools add the ability to share content and present, the applications have become more similar and the nomenclature more interchangeable. Now whatever your tool, the resulting output is typically a video-based, real-time two-way interaction, emphasizing near-zero audio and video delay in order to allow for a conversation.
While the features vary and the technical aspects of each are different, the value delivered in a WebEx, a GoToMeeting, a Lync chat, an Adobe Connect session, or a meeting in the Cisco- or Polycom-equipped conference room is consistent — an instant audio, video, and screen-sharing connection with anyone located remotely.
Fundamentally the value these tools offer is what the industry calls “synchronous communication,” or more simply, two or more connected video feeds that each update so quickly they can allow for real-time conversation between them. This makes video conferencing technology perfect for live, interactive meetings, but it limits the number of people who can tune in to the meeting, as we’ll discuss more later.
Video conferencing technology makes it possible to meet with someone in another room, another building, or another country as if they were sitting on the other side of the table. And while it was the first application many organizations found for video, it’s now proving to be a gateway to using the technology for even greater ROI — which is where video platforms come in.
Whereas the conferencing tools are built for one task, video platforms have evolved as multipurpose technologies. Modern enterprise video platforms — sometimes called video libraries, video content management systems, or simply a “corporate YouTube” — are intended to support video production from end to end — recording, managing, searching, sharing, and viewing — enabling organizations to do more new things with video as well as get more value out of existing video.
As with conferencing tools, the specific sets of features and capabilities for each video platform will be different. At their most basic, however, most video platform solutions will enable the following:
Along with these core features, you’ll find several others available depending on the solution. Some video platforms also offer webcasting features that enable you to broadcast live video. Others offer enhanced video experiences for mobile devices, with native apps and mobile-aware player design and video streaming.
Unlike video conferencing tools, which are built for synchronous, two-way communication, video platforms are built for what the industry calls “asynchronous communication.” This means that video platforms can be used to stream video one-way to massive audiences, either live or on-demand. Fundamentally, these technologies are built for different communication scenarios — video conferencing tools excel at conversations among small groups, while video platforms excel at presentations to large audiences.
While conferencing solutions and video platforms each offer their own subset of features and benefits, the technologies really begin to shine — and the use cases begin to multiply — when you leverage the two together.
Where conference tools are weak — for example, in recording video for on-demand viewing, or managing and searching video content — modern video platforms offer the ability to record video from virtually any device, offer a centralized library for efficient storage, automatically transcode recordings for on-demand playback on any device, and index the video content so it can be searched for and found by your team at a later date.
Likewise, where video conferencing tools are strong, video portals can further help them flex their muscle. Modern video platforms can enable organizations to scale meetings held via video conference to thousands or tens of thousands of viewers — far more than video conference technology could otherwise allow. And because they make it easy to record and store video, video platforms can make it possible to capture important video conference calls and save them for future reference in a central library.
A video platform provides your organization with the tools needed to drive more value out of your investment in video.
Conferencing tools like GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, Lync, and WebEx are great for connecting small groups for live, interactive meetings. These tools excel at real-time information exchange — but the ideas and insights shared during these sessions typically aren’t saved anywhere and are all too often simply lost when the meeting ends.
A video platform is the perfect complement to your web conferencing tool. Your video platform allows you to:
What does that mean for your business? Here are 5 opportunities a video platform opens up for you that your video conferencing tools don’t.
#1: Video-Enabled On-Demand Social Learning
Have a question and need an answer from your in-house expert? Just open up your web conferencing tool and start a conversation. Unless, of course, your expert is in a meeting. Or travelling. Or out sick. Or lives in another time zone. Or took a new job three weeks ago.
A video platform solves that problem. Developers, analysts, project owners, architects, and other subject matter experts can simply record a short video of themselves answering common questions and make it available on-demand on the enterprise YouTube.
Now everyone in your organization has anytime access to their expertise shared for social learning — without tying up your experts’ schedules with repeated requests for the same information.
#2: Live Stream Video Presentations to (Really) Big Audiences
Due to the technology required for real-time interactive video, web conferencing tools limit your audience to several hundred or a thousand people. That’s usually more than enough for a meeting — but what about an investor relations call? A world-wide all-staff town hall meeting? A user conference? Or any of the myriad of other reasons a few hundred seats would be far too few?
A video platform with live streaming technology uses a different underlying video delivery mechanism, allowing it to scale to tens of thousands of people or more — ideal for broadcasting presentations and events to massive audiences around the world.
#3: Record Demos, Webinars, and Other Presentation Videos
Web conferencing tools are nice for conversations, but they aren’t built for the purpose of recording and sharing high-quality on-demand screencasts and video presentations. Many video conferencing solutions don’t record actual video at all — limiting you to just audio and a low-resolution recording of the presenter’s screen. Even then, because the tools were not designed as recorders, the workflow to capture a presentation is often quite cumbersome.
Sharing screens, adding additional webcams, and other recording techniques you could use to better show your content and make your point simply aren’t possible with most conferencing tools. By contrast, a modern video platform enables you to capture product demos and presentations with broadcast-quality audio and full-screen HD video. Share multiple video feeds to show every angle, and add on-screen recordings and presentation slides to really make your case (and set your company apart).
Best of all, recording presentations helps you scale. According to Adobe, 55% of webinar-type events are viewed after-the-fact as a recording. If your presentation isn’t available after the call ends, you’re missing almost half your potential audience — meaning you’re either missing out on opportunities, or sentencing yourself to time-wasting repeat performances.
#4: Affordable, Professional Virtual Events from Any Laptop
Web conferencing tools are great for small meetings and webinars. But what if you want to record a professional-looking virtual event with multiple camera angles and HD video cameras?
A video platform, however, can help you avoid that cost — and create the same high-quality, professional videos faster too. Leading companies like Siemens already record internal events with no more than laptops and webcams — saving time and money.
With the right video platform, you can record from any video camera into any laptop — even capture multiple video streams across a network of PCs. The video platform will automatically sync all those files and upload everything into your video library, where you can quickly edit the final files and share them with anyone you choose — all in minutes instead of weeks.
Your video platform can even live-stream your event video, helping you to extend your conferences to attendees around the world — and save money by eliminating travel costs.
#5: Easy and Automated Video Content Management
What happens when the web conference wraps up?
Well if you didn’t hit “record” in your web conferencing tool, nothing at all. And even if you did — not much. Conferencing tools can often record calls, but the usefulness of those native recordings is generally quite limited:
Often you’re left with either just a link back to the conferencing systems’ servers, or a giant file sitting on your desktop — neither a particularly useful storage spot.
With a video platform, your recordings are automatically uploaded to a video content management system where they’re transcribed and indexed so that people can easily find and view recorded content on-demand from anywhere.
The value of a real video content management system only multiplies as your organization begins creating more and more video. Most businesses already have a massive cache of video scattered across file shares and SharePoint sites, where they eat up storage space but are often too difficult for other employees to find and use. No conferencing tool in the world can help manage those existing videos — but a video platform with a video content management system can quickly upload, transcribe, index, and share them across your entire company, often in just a couple clicks.
As video continues to grow in importance across every department at most organizations, now is the time to heed Forrester’s advice to “plan for video content, not just video conferencing.”
To learn more, including the latest recommendations from industry analysts at Gartner and Forrester, as well as the best practices now in place at forward-looking organizations like Siemens, Microsoft, and the New York Stock Exchange, download your free edition of our white paper, Video is More than Video Conferencing, today.