Just a few years ago, most employees had nothing to do with video — enterprise video barely existed. It was little more than a professionally produced commercial playing on your corporate website or it was made in an expensive production studio carefully guarded by the marketing department. Fast forward to today, and everyone with a smartphone is armed with a powerful video camera, and Internet services let anyone be a video producer and distributor.
Enterprise video is now into a powerful tool for communicating with employees, partners and customers. This means that videos are everywhere, proliferating across your network as marketing, sales and HR employees record their presentations. Video is turning into the ideal method of communications for many situations, but it only works if the right people can watch the right videos. With a video content management system, you can corral all of your videos and turn them into an easily accessible, thoughtfully curated catalog. Video content management truly democratizes video creation, publishing and distribution.
Sean Brown is the vice production of Education for Sonic Foundry, a video management platform company headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. He compares this video revolution with email, saying video, too, will “become an essential platform for core communication.” For that to happen, though, “video has to become just as useful as text.” He believes the key to that is a video content management system, like Sonic Foundry’s just released Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform.
“We’ve watched corporations trying to hammer YouTube or Vimeo into something useful to the corporation — it’s not. The same principles that govern robust enterprise products need to be applied to video publishing and sharing,” says Brown. He quickly lists “security, integration, control over visibility and branding, scalability, and the ability to have it be cloud-based or on-premise. These things are assumed in the enterprise when you acquire other tools.”
Brown is adamant about the difference between social media sites and enterprise video content management solutions. A service like YouTube may win you millions of viewers, but it doesn’t let you manage your video content like an enterprise asset. You can’t control access to videos, make them deeply searchable, or run robust analytics on them.
A video content management system built for the enterprise lets you organize your videos that are created by multiple users across your company in different formats, and then make them accessible to anyone who wants to watch them, both inside and outside your company. An advanced solution lets you brand your videos and present them according to your organization’s established look and feel. It also lets you analyze them for myriad viewing patterns.
Top Must-have Features for Video Content Management
Just like for creating videos, there are a range of products for managing videos, from free and basic to advanced and expensive. There are installed and cloud-based solutions, and some are open source while others are based on established enterprise technologies. According to Brown, any enterprise content management system should have these five features: workflows, search, analytics, security and scalability.
For viewers to see your videos, they must, of course, be uploaded to the video content management system and published. From publishing a video to distributing it, the workflows should be simple and easy to follow. They should allow users to direct videos to different locations on your site, organize and index them. Workflows might include creating playlists or adding videos to existing playlists, branding videos and customizing the viewing experience, and sharing videos with social media sites like YouTube and Twitter.
Usually, a video content management system uses predefined metadata that simplifies organizing and finding videos. These fields generally include the video’s title, description and tags. Some systems let you create your own metadata scheme. With Brightcove‘s Video Cloud Content Management System and Limelight Networks’ Video Content Manager, you can create custom metadata fields that reflect your organization. If your company produces a Web series, you could add a field for the episode number. If certain spokespeople are featured in presentations, you could add a field for their marquee names. If you produce lectures, you could add a field for each class or topic.
Some enterprise video content management systems also make each video searchable beyond the metadata that the creator associates with it. For example, Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform can scan one presentation or your entire catalog of videos to find keywords or phrases. It can also scan for text in a video, such as a slide deck or spreadsheet, and include those results in a search.
With a robust analytics feature, you can determine how successful your videos are with viewers.
“We find that people desperately love the power of knowing who watched what, where and for how long,” says Brown. He warns, “Some video platforms have no reporting — you have to look at the raw information from the video server.”
The analytics modules vary some in what you can find out. With Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform, you can take a real-time snapshot of who’s watching which videos at that moment, track which presenters are the most popular, find out which videos are watched the most often and even see if viewers are watching only parts of videos, such as the beginning or end. Brightcove’s Video Cloud analytics module also offers viewer metrics, video engagement metrics and details about how the same video performs on different locations across your website. The open source Kaltura Video Platform includes some basic reports, but also offers an Analytics API for creating custom reports.
Security, too, is important, and is another feature that sets enterprise systems apart from social media tools.
“Some systems have none, like YouTube. Some are minimal — you’re in or you’re out, you see all the videos or none. [But with] advanced systems, you have to log in, and what you see is conditional based on who you are,” explains Brown.
Basic security means controlling who can see the videos you’ve uploaded to the content management system — after all, not every video is intended for every viewer. A quarterly sales presentation is likely to contain confidential data that you wouldn’t want your competitors passing around. A product launch video needs to be released on the same day as the product, not before. And some videos may be governed by content licensing restrictions. To meet these requirements, Brightcove’s Video Content Management lets you determine when and where your videos are displayed, even down to geographic access.
Some systems enforce additional security, similar to other products on the enterprise network. Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform uses an authorization system to make sure that only authorized viewers can see protected videos. On the back end, it also uses role-based authentication before users can create or edit videos or use other management functions.
Finally, Brown cautions customers to look for a video content management system that can expand to accommodate growing catalogs.
“People are ready for video and they have the means to access it. It gets popular very fast,” says Brown, explaining why scalability is an important feature. “Start with a system that uses cloud-based services or on-premise technologies that [your] IT can support as it grows.”
Just as the system should be able to expand with more videos, it should be able to accommodate different formats for all the various videos it needs to organize and manage. Make sure the system you choose can support the media formats you use, such as m4v, mov, mp3 and mp4, mpeg, mpg and wmv.
Additionally, many enterprise video content management systems include editing tools — this may quickly go from a nice-to-have feature to a must-have feature. The video editing feature may allow you to crop and cut videos, incorporate fades and transitions and trim videos into separate clips.
Finding Video Content Management
Video content management can be tricky to find as a standalone solution. Most enterprise solutions offer it as integrated components of a larger video platform. This is true of Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform and Kaltura’s Video Platform. Similarly, both Brightcove’s Video Cloud and Limelight’s Video Platform are online video platforms that include video content management as a module. The platforms are sold as end-to-end solutions for publishing videos, including hosting, encoding and analytics along with content management. They also offer features outside the scope of the standalone solution, including advertising and syndication modules. Unlike the other solutions, Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform includes video capture tools for recording videos.
It’s important to note, too, that video content management is still generally deployed separate from digital asset management (DAM). A DAM solution usually handles documents, photos, and other types of images. However, most organization manage videos with a dedicated system that can cope with the size and bandwidth requirements of video. However, DAMs and video platforms are not mutually exclusive.
“A good enterprise video platform will allow for easy indexing and retrieval by a linked DAM system and the export and insertion of video content objects,” explains Brown. “The extent of interoperability varies greatly, but most organizations have investigated these platforms separately for specific departmental needs.”
Brown adds that Web-based links between the two systems are becoming increasingly common, which will allow your video platform and DAM system of choice to work together seamlessly.
As with all enterprise software, pricing for enterprise video platforms varies widely and is often dependent on each deployment. The two cloud-based solutions offer free trials, and then a monthly rate. Video Cloud starts at $99 a month for just 50 videos or $500 a month for 500. These are small business plans, but enterprise services are available, too.
Maybe you’ve only uploaded a few videos to your site or already have several thousand videos. Chances are good that video will proliferate in your organization like most others. From carefully produced customer success stories to detailed product demos to informal chats with experts, anyone can now make a video that’s useful to your business. How will you harness that information?