The Fun Challenges of Video

Video is exploding all around, and inside, the enterprise. But one of the things I gathered while working on a feature that posted yesterday over at IT Business Edge is that there is no single approach to positioning the powerful tool.

The feature, “Video is Important — But is it Part of Unified Communications?”, found that the great and growing interest in corporate video is not matched by a uniform means of deployment. The explosion of video tools and applications in the consumer space — from computer-based video chat to the ease with which video can be recorded and uploaded to YouTube and similar services — all are used in the workplace.

This flexibility suggests that it is unnecessary to position video as a central focus of a unified communications platform from the start. It’s clear that video is useful in business settings. The key during the next few years is deciding precisely how to position it.

The ease with which video is available at work is both good and bad. It can be done cheaply, quickly and without the heavy lifting necessary to make corporate LANs capable of supporting the more sophisticated and demanding approaches to video. As Gunjan Bhow, vice president of unified communications at Plantronics, told me, “The cost to experiment with video is very, very low.”

The downside is significant, if a bit more subtle. Video thrown into the enterprise almost invariably won’t be used most effectively. Quality will be hit and miss. Security will be low or nonexistent, and operations almost certainly will run afoul of regulatory rules. Corporate control will be minimal.

The best news is that this isn’t an either/or scenario. Smart companies will go through a process of assessment. This may take the form of throwing up some inexpensive video gear and closely watching how employees use it. They can see the level of value it brings and the problems and challenges it causes. Finally, it will be evident if incorporating video under the UC umbrella will bring enough incremental benefits beyond the one-off approaches to make it worth the additional investments.

Icon courtesy of Sergio Sanchez Lopez.

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