Optimizing Enterprise Video in the Hybrid Work Era
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Four Issues Organizations Must Address to Enable Video at Scale
The pandemic introduced video to more users than ever before. That behavior is here to stay and grow — almost half of workers report watching at least an hour of video weekly. In this article from Wainhouse Research, learn how video will become more pervasive as we enter the era of hybrid work and what IT managers must start thinking about to address the issues that will undoubtedly arise as video scales across the enterprise.
- The demand for video in the enterprise is on the rise
- The factors fueling adoption of video in today’s workspace
- How to deliver on the promise of enterprise video at scale
Demand for Video in the Enterprise is on the Rise
More organizations are using streaming video more frequently in business communications than ever before. Almost two-thirds of organizations (63%) represented in a Wainhouse (WH) Research survey of 2,001 individuals conducted in the fourth quarter of 2021 report that they produced more than 25 online events incorporating live, one-to-many video throughout the year. As recently as 2019 — in the final year of Wainhouse survey results collected before the pandemic — a substantially smaller cadre (49% of organizations represented in the survey) had reported using live business video at a comparable frequency.
Undoubtedly, the workplace limitations resulting from COVID-related work restrictions have played a key role in boosting video adoption in the workplace. Video has emerged as a medium that keeps workers engaged — even when working on a remote basis. Whether used in employee training, department-level meetings, or corporate townhalls, video established itself during the pandemic as a tool that could be used by managers to disseminate a standardized message to large groups of workers no matter their location. Among those working remotely at the time of Wainhouse’s 2021 survey, 56% described video as a “very effective” tool in helping to communicate work-related information.
However, as illustrated in Figure 1, the expanded use of video in the enterprise is not just a COVID phenomenon. Indeed, the frequency of adoption of live online video in the workplace — as measured in a series of annual Wainhouse surveys — has increased every year since 2017 when 39% of organizations reported usage of live streaming video at least 25 times.
And it appears that many organizations are doubling down on their investment in — and implementation of — video-enabling solutions in 2022. Among all organizations represented in the Wainhouse survey, 63% report plans to increase spending on streaming technology solutions in 2022.
The increase in video implementation at an organizational level is translating into increased viewership of business video among employees. In 2021, 47% of WH survey respondents reported watching at least one hour of business streaming video weekly, up 33% from pre-COVID 2019. In short, organizations that produce video wind up getting their message delivered to their target audience.
And — it turns out — the highest rate of business video viewership comes from those individuals working on a hybrid basis, splitting their time between a central office and remote work options. Wainhouse survey results suggest that video can play a unique role in helping those workers who straddle the line between in- office and remote work stay connected with their colleagues.
As illustrated in Figure 2, 60% of those working on a hybrid basis at the time of the Wainhouse survey reported more than one hour of business viewership weekly, compared to similar levels of use by 45% of those working in a centralized facility, 43% of those working “in the field,” and 40% of those working exclusively from home offices. Clearly, as the ranks of hybrid workers begin to swell, demand for video-enriched communications should be expected to grow in-step.
While demand for video-enabling technologies is strong across the board, individuals working on a hybrid basis appear more vested in getting access to enhanced video technologies than any other work group. Of those working in hybrid settings at the time of the Wainhouse survey, four-out-of-five respondents (80%) agree that “my organization should do more to capitalize on currently available video technologies.” Among those working from a centralized office, “only” 66% agree with the statement.
These trends point to a new video reality for corporate IT managers: Even as the corporate world takes steps to return to “normal,” the demand for video-enabling technologies is not going away. One-fifth of all organizations (20%) expect to be offering hybrid work options at the end of 2022. While that’s down slightly from the height of the pandemic, it’s still more than double the 8% that had been offering hybrid work options pre-COVID.
Overall, the proportion of organizations planning to have employees work exclusively from a centralized office is expected to be 48% at the end of 2022, compared with the 70% of organizations that had worked only from a centralized office prior to the COVID crisis.
In short, the world of work has changed. The spectrum of work settings is forever altered, necessitating — in many cases — broader adoption of video to keep workers informed and engaged. In this report, Wainhouse will highlight the issues that many IT executives are facing in a world where workers are more at ease using video than ever before and organizations must adapt to making video available in a wide array of business settings.
Factors Fueling Adoption of Video in Today’s Workplace
During the past two years, necessity has firmly established itself as the mother of video adoption. When dealing with pandemic quarantines, many workers had no other choice but to experiment with a wide array of video solutions simply to stay engaged with colleagues during COVID-driven lockdowns. In the process, workers developed a new awareness of tools that make it easy to use video in day-to-day business communications.
The transformation of video awareness was first exemplified by the rapid and extensive adoption of video meeting services, such as Zoom, Cisco Webex, and Microsoft Teams, optimized for small-group sessions. Among all respondents to the Wainhouse survey, 68% say they now participate in more video meetings than was the case prior to COVID. Unsurprisingly, video meeting adoption was even more extensive among those working remotely. Four-out-of-five respondents who work on a remote basis (80%) report that they are participating in video meetings more frequently than was the case prior to COVID.
Usage of video meeting solutions appears to get people thinking about other potential business applications for video. In effect, when workers see video in action, they seem to find additional ways to put it to use.
For instance — as illustrated in Figure 3 — individuals who participate in video meetings most frequently are the most interested in identifying ways to extend the reach of video meetings by broadcasting them to non-participants. It’s a content distribution model that typically is best handled via the integration of a streaming platform solution with the video meeting platform.
Among those participating in daily video meetings, 57% “strongly agree” that “in the next year, I want to make more video meeting content available to larger audiences via one-to-many webcasts.” Among those never using video conferencing technologies, only 18% “strongly agree” with the statement.
Given these survey results, the inescapable conclusion is that active users of video meetings are more interested than anyone else in extending the reach of video content. As an army of newly minted video evangelists march into centralized offices from their remote work settings during 2022, IT managers should be bracing themselves — and their corporate networks — for greater demand for one-to-many video-enabling solutions than ever before.
Pandemic Implications Extend beyond Live Video Events
In much the same way that increased usage of video meetings fosters expanded interest in disseminating live video more broadly, it also appears to focus greater end-user attention on the usage of on-demand video solutions, as well.
Capturing and archiving video for later viewing opens the door to a wide array of business use cases. This asynchronous video, for instance, can be employed by experts within an organization to record answers to frequently asked questions — a process that can streamline the transfer
of institutional knowledge between employees. Likewise, human resources departments can leverage asynchronous video to record content that educates employees on corporate policies, improving the process of bringing on new hires. Video archives also extend the reach of corporate townhalls and executive messaging, enabling employees in international time zones to access content from meetings that they cannot attend live.
It is important to note that the level of interest in asynchronous video is particularly strong among respondents working for organizations that have embraced remote work in a significant way. At organizations that have implemented permanent policies authorizing remote work, 79% report that they record and archive at least 10 hours of business video content monthly. At companies that have yet to commit themselves to specific policies authorizing remote work, only 27% record video at a comparable rate.
The results hint at a strong correlation between an organization’s embrace of remote work options and its inclination to implement video platforms that facilitate the creation and management of on-demand video content. Intuitively, this makes sense. As individuals work varied schedules, on-demand video becomes a more viable venue for workers to share information and knowledge with one another. Even if fluctuating schedules make it difficult for individuals to collaborate with each other in-person, video archives offer an alternative that allows individuals to share insight and information on a time-shifted basis.
That said, organizations still must deploy the right technologies to unlock the value of video. As illustrated in Figure 4, 80% of WH survey respondents agree that “when searching video archives, I find it difficult to find the information I want.” Organizations can address this issue by
implementing solutions offering enhanced content management capabilities and video search features.
For those organizations that do invest in video-enhancing technologies — whether used live or on-demand — video can evolve from a medium that fosters engaging communications between workers to serving as a vital bridge helping to keep remote workers better connected with work activities taking place in a centralized office.
It is fair to say that video offers value to the majority of workers, regardless of work setting. Two- thirds (66%) of those working in centralized offices, for instance, agree that “my organization should do more to capitalize on currently available video technologies to enhance communications.” But these sentiments are ever so slightly stronger among those working on a hybrid basis, with 77% of these remote workers citing agreement that their organization should be doing more with video.
- 71% of WH survey respondents agree that “on-demand video archives offer a valuable storehouse of institutional knowledge”
- 87% of all respondents agree that live one-to-many video makes it easier for managers to disseminate a consistent message to large teams
- 72% of individuals working on a remote basis agree that “managers using video frequently are more effective in communicating their vision to workers than those who do not use video”
- 60% agree that “employees should feel short-changed if their organization does not provide them the technology solutions needed to use video in day-to-day communications”
But organizations can only reap the benefits of enhanced video communications in the enterprise if they invest in solutions tailored to address the specific challenges of creating, managing, and distributing online video in a variety of business settings. The complexity of video implementation makes it nearly impossible for even large IT departments to develop such solutions in-house. Free online solutions, such as Google’s YouTube, typically lack the security features and the general enterprise sophistication needed to address the challenges associated with supporting video at scale in the corporate setting.
Delivering on the Promise of Enterprise Video at Scale
As work settings and communications habits continue to evolve in the wake of the pandemic, IT managers face greater pressure than ever before in getting their video platform strategies “right.” Not only are end users demanding more, managers are pushing for the implementation of better video solutions, as well. Of the 480 IT executives surveyed by WH, 70% agree that “management in our organization is pushing the IT department to make more video communications solutions available to all employees.”
Here are some key issues that IT managers should be thinking about as they evaluate solutions that will allow their users to get more out of video – whether working in-office or remotely.
Delivering on Video — Issue #1: Video Security Is Top Priority
Under no circumstances is it acceptable to implement video solutions that expose the corporate network to external risk. Figure 5 illustrates that the issue of “network security” is cited as a very important influence on streaming technology purchase decisions by 68% of IT respondents — more so than any other administrative technology issue.
It is important to note that this survey was fielded ahead of the 2022 crisis in Ukraine. Geopolitical turmoil triggers even greater worries about cybersecurity than are reflected in even these survey results. For the foreseeable future, concerns regarding the security of implementing video solutions will remain a key priority, and video solutions must be evaluated with these security issues in mind.
It is important to remember that security issues extend beyond the need to protect the integrity of the corporate network. As video is used more extensively — and employed increasingly in strategically sensitive communications — the concept of “content security” emerges as a key consideration, as well.
Any video platform deployment must have systems in place that protect video from being accessed by individuals without authority or with ill intent.
Delivering on Video — Issue #2: Take Care of the Network
While issues of security are top-of-mind for virtually all IT executives taking a serious look at implementing enterprise video platforms, concerns about managing video as it flows through the corporate network is a vital issue of focus, as well. Note that — in the results illustrated in Figure 5 — the three issues immediately behind “security” in the pecking order of IT video concerns all focused on issues related to video’s impact on the corporate network.
For better or worse, video represents a bulky package of data to distribute over corporate networks. On a network that is not equipped to handle video at scale, the process of distributing a live video event to hundreds — or even thousands — of workers at the same time can generate a level of demand for bandwidth that can cripple a corporate network. Among 480 IT executives surveyed by Wainhouse in the fourth quarter of 2021, 73% agree that “streaming video threatens the reliability of internal computing networks.”
And concerns over addressing video networking capacity issues run particularly deep among IT executives as they account for the video consumption habits of recently remote workers returning to the office. Overall, 78% of IT executives surveyed agree that “our organization needs to add network capacity in 2022 to address likely increases in video demand as workers return to the office.”
Delivering on Video — Issue #3: Consider a Consolidation Strategy
For many organizations, implementing streaming technologies can be compared to the construction of the Tower of Babel. Many solutions may have been deployed, but few have the capability to talk with one another. More than four-in-ten of the organizations represented in the WH survey (41%) report that they have implemented three or more technology platforms to support their organization’s distribution of one-to-many streaming video.
Such a scattershot approach can be counterproductive. End users have no single tool that they can learn and master while IT administrators deal with multiple video fiefdoms that offer no single, unified approach to managing and distributing video on the corporate network. Simply put, IT executives crave more control and aspire to implement a single, over-arching approach to enabling video behind the corporate firewall. As illustrated in Figure 6, 59% of information technology executives surveyed by WH say that the ability to standardize usage of a single video platform for managing all live and on-demand content is very important.
One can understand the appeal of implementing a centralized approach to managing video in the enterprise. All content gets stored in a single archive. All video events are distributed using the same video networking infrastructure. IT administrators have a single solution to deploy and manage while end users benefit from consistent and reliable access to video content.
The unified approach also lends itself to identifying the scale of solutions that are needed to fully address an organization’s video platform needs. Viewership analytics from a single-platform solution provide an accurate depiction of video consumption activity on the corporate network, providing organizations a single frame of reference when considering the investments needed to support expanding use of video within the organization. As such, companies unable to develop a cohesive strategy for handling video via a single platform solution leave themselves at a disadvantage in responding to the burgeoning demand for video-enabling solutions on their corporate network.
Delivering on Video – Issue #4: Managing Video at Volume
Beyond worrying about swamping corporate networks with video, IT managers also must be cognizant of the risks that come with generating large amounts of video content without an effective way for users to find content relevant to them.
During COVID, more organizations have become digital video packrats, assembling larger and larger archives of video content. More than one-fourth of all organizations represented in the WH survey (26%) report that they are recording and capturing at least 25 hours of video content monthly. In 2019 – the last full survey year prior to COVID – only 21% reporte3d archiving video at a comparable rate.
But more video can translate into more problems if end users cannot find the video they need. Indeed, frustrations with video search are palpable among those at organizations with comparatively large video archives. Among survey respondents working at organizations with 100 or more hours of archived video content, 72% agree that “when searching for content that I need, relevant on-demand videos are harder to find than text documents.”
The challenge for IT administrators is to implement technology platforms that help the right piece of video get to the right person at the right time. Typically, this means embracing video platforms that offer AI-based automated speech-to-text solutions that make it possible to convert the audio tracks from a file into digital text suitable for searching. The searchable text makes it possible for users to enter a query on a specific phrase and jump directly to a video passage where that phrase is used by a speaker.
IT administrators appear to be highly interested in solutions that can enhance the searchability of video files. As illustrated in Figure 7, a cumulative 67% of IT executives surveyed agree that “our workers would use video archives more frequently if provided the ability to use specific search terms to find and retrieve targeted, relevant video passages.”
The ability to get relevant video in front of end-users should be a key priority for IT administrators considering the next steps in implementing video platform solutions. Just like the tree falling in a forest that is not heard if no one is around, a snippet of video generates no business impact if it goes unwatched. And watching video is impossible for workers who cannot find the videos they need. As the volume of archived video continues to surge as individuals embrace video in post- pandemic work settings, it is incumbent upon IT teams to implement solutions that help users find needles of relevant content hiding in their digital video haystacks.
TIME TO TAKE INVENTORY OF YOUR ORGANIZATION’S VIDEO STRATEGY
When it comes to video in the enterprise, IT managers are standing on the cusp of an entirely new era – with an entirely different set of end-user expectations and a largely untested playbook for addressing burgeoning demand for video in a rapidly changing work environment. No
time is better than now to evaluate your organization’s current video technology footprint and formulate a strategy for implementing solutions that can address the emerging challenges of enabling video at scale. Here are some basic first steps that you should take as you start this journey:
- Take a Look Around: Assess how video demand has changed in your organization during the pandemic. Is video being used more broadly? Have increases in security threats prompted you to evaluate how video information is being shared? What remote work policies are being implemented by your organization and how is that likely to impact the overall demand for video from your end users?
- Identify Prospective Video “Power Users”: Figure out who’s likely to be using video the most extensively. Not all video adopters are created equal. Those working in information-intensive disciplines (i.e., finance, human resources) are likely to be using video more frequently
than those on the manufacturing line, for instance. Align your implementation strategies to prioritize end users who have the greatest need for using video.
- Evaluate Video Solutions Now in Place: Once you’ve identified the likely demand for video within your organization, take the time to analyze the weak links of your existing video strategy. Do you need better content management solutions, more detailed viewership analytics, or maybe a more unified approach to handling video across the board? Do you have adequate safeguards to make sure only authorized employees can access a specific video? An honest self-appraisal helps your team address issues before they become critical chokepoints in your efforts to leverage video more effectively.
- Solidify Your Video Distribution Strategy: Shore up your corporate network to address the traffic spikes that can be associated with widespread viewership of business video behind the corporate firewall. If video cannot move from Point A to Point B, employees will never see the videos and the content will generate no impact on business outcomes whatsoever. Networks equipped with the proper infrastructure for disseminating videos can help ensure a reliable viewing experience for workers while forestalling the data bottlenecks that create implementation nightmares for network administrators.
- Build with an Eye on the Future: Where possible, build for scale while still early in the implementation process. Video demand is doing nothing but increasing. History shows that viewership only increases over time as individuals develop experience with – and awareness of – video communications technologies. The right infrastructure can help you better manage how workers access videos as adoption grows. The pandemic has unleased the video genie from the bottle. Don’t plan for the capacity of today, plan for a platform that supports sustained growth in video usage over the course of the next three years.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Vonder Haar is a Senior Analyst with Wainhouse Research, focusing on enterprise streaming
and webcasting. Steve has covered the technology industry for more than 20 years. He
previously served as Research Director of Interactive Media Strategies and as Director of Media
and Entertainment Strategies for the Yankee Group. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri
Columbia with degrees in Journalism and Economics and holds a master’s degree in Business
Administration from the University of Texas-Arlington. He can be reached at
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