Best Practices for Enterprise Streaming: Part 1

Monday Jul 12th 1999 by Staff

Streaming Media '99: Justifying projects At Streaming Media '99, members of the industry vanguard shared tips for successful deployment of audio and video on corporate intranets. Here's what they had to say about justifying projects.

Brian Heukroth: Thank you Richard. OK, Roger.

Roger Dean: Coming from a financial services background I think we would look after the value of money to start with, and, what's it going to take for us to do this on a regular basis. Our experience is that initially when we produce trials and we start to roll this out to a limited set of people, people find that it's wonderful, it's engaging, and it's rich in content and it grabs their attention. I'm not suggesting that streaming media is the sort of thing that you'd want to stream for three hours on end. You're more likely to keep people's attention for two, three minutes anyway, so use it sparingly.

But if I had to sum up, you know, a few tips here, practice is one of them. Don't do it live, with two minutes beforehand just to make sure that the video's working; get your talent ready, your people ready. Think about the budget for this. You're going to have to find equipment. Then, you're going to have to think about reusing the content. You produce it once, you would love to reuse it, because it's expensive to produce. So how are you going to reuse it? Well, you've heard already about engines, and retrievals, and indexes, and so on in content. You should definitely think about that. Asset management, as you grow in terms of multimedia on your network. No good in having it on your local sort of hard drive or a file server where you can email something, you need a dedicated facility for it.

So, the other thing that I would mention is, I think in general today the quality of streaming media is OK. It's not wonderful, it's not as poor as it was, say, a year ago. But what is absolutely sacrosanct in the actual production that you're doing is audio. People will put up with two frames a second, or they'll put up with still pictures. But they won't put up with audio that is jerky, or it's crackly, or it's just inaudible. So think about that, because that I believe is where the key to quality is.

Brian Heukroth: Now, let's go back to Dan. We're going to start a new question, which is, How do we advise project managers to justify their projects internally? What are approaches that have perhaps worked best? You have mentioned making certain things intuitive and fun. I don't know too many managers who would buy off on doing it just for fun. So, perhaps you could elaborate.

Daniel Agan: Well, I think that there are a number of tangible benefits that have to and can be quantified, not the least of which is things like reduced costs in travel, reduced costs of paper, implementations from particularly things like CEO communications, and that kind of thing … supplier and extranet kinds of implementations where instead of constantly sending out material, or actually replicating effort, you're doing it once and in kind of a broadcast mode, to your suppliers or vendors or partners or whatever the case may be. But I also think there are a number of intangible benefits that frequently people overlook, because they get very hung up on the dollars and cents end, and Roger alluded to this a moment ago, and that is, how engaging video is, and the ability to actually have a message resonate with someone, particularly if you're a CEO of an organization and it's important to you. That's an intangible benefit that I'm not sure you can put a dollars and cents figure on, but you can certainly measure.

And it takes some effort, and it takes some time but, but those things are measurable and they are important to the cultural well-being; the health and well-being of any large organization. So I would say that there are any number of tangible measures that can be put into place, but don't overlook the intangible measures as well; and they might be a little squishy, and IT departments may not react terribly well to those kinds of things, but if you actually walk in with employee satisfaction surveys and other empirical evidence, or other statistical evidence, to demonstrate the value of actually having an engaging medium of communication, partner performance, partner increases, partner performance in training, then I think you have the basis of a very compelling story.

Next week: the panel discusses different approaches to justifying enterprise streaming.

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Best Practices for Enterprise Streaming: Part 2

Brian Heukroth: Thank you Richard. Roger, you've mentioned managing assets as well--as any good financial person should - at Morgan Stanley, so perhaps you'll give us your perspective.

Roger Dean: Sure. Let me just make one empirical point actually, about return on investment. I did some math internally within Morgan Stanley, because I was curious to know--although I had already deployed streaming media and I was happy with it--whether I could ever 'fess up to the amount that I had spent on it. I looked at the cost of producing a video conference. If I was going to, let's say show a video tape over a video conference--which is a strange combination, but certainly done--and that's going to take, let's say three people at this end in New York and three people in London, I'm going to show it for an hour, I can work out what that tape costs to produce, and I can work out what my video conference link costs, and the maintenance on the equipment. And for some reason I came up with $130 per eyeball hour. And then I thought to myself, OK. Well, I could send a tape across to London, and these guys could look at it, and I could look at it over here and we could look at it roughly at the same time and we'd be happy. And I think I came up with a number of about $40 an eyeball hour. Then I looked at streaming and I thought well, I produced this stuff already, so it's the same cost, but I'm going to cash in, I'm going to put it on some sort of retrieval engine, and people can look at it anytime, and I'm going to probably hit a thousand people. Now, you can all do the same mathematics as I can, and you can come to some ridiculously low figure about the cost of hitting that eyeball. And that's what's important to me. I produced a chart, and I showed various people, and they all nodded wisely. So, I think that was the end of my fear about being investigated, but ... it was very, very enlightening to me that, you know, there was some real sense about the extra cost of doing this. We are very, very concerned about asset management, clogging up our network with material, and letting unauthorized people find it and then go stream it to their desktops. So, we need to put a GUI or some form of engine in front of all this repository, so that people can go in in a coordinated, coherent fashion, retrieve it, maybe under Keyword Search, stream it to their desktop on a permissioned basis. Now, this isn't just all of the video, this is audio as well, with graphics … So, that's what we've been looking at for a number of months within Morgan Stanley, and it's pretty impressive.

Brian Heukroth: It's interesting to hear such a range. So there seems to be quite a few different kinds of relevant measures that you could use for internal projects. But let's move on to the external. One of the things that'd be pretty interesting to know is, how can you justify this from a communication-outward point of view. Since we've left you last before, Roger, let's start with you this time.

Roger Dean: OK. Many of you I am sure are aware that Morgan Stanley merged with Dean Witter a couple years ago, bringing to the table, Dean Witter has something like nine or 10,000 financial analysts, or advisors, spread across this country. They obviously have a great deal of clients of their own. For us--and I would think Merrill and Goldman are in the same situation--we're clearly coming from a point where we need market share of eyeballs, and intimate users of our sites. So, our ability to get out on the Internet, and, potentially, on the extranet so that we hit major firms, and we encourage them to use our services, is of prime importance to us. And, speaking to that is really the quality of our productions, and it comes back to what I was saying before. Don't produce rubbish. You've got to produce what you consider commercially viable material. It's got to look really good, or people will go elsewhere. So for us, yes, it's absolutely key that we tempt people, and we encourage people to come use Morgan Stanley's services. And that is absolutely part of our focus for this year and next.

Brian Heukroth: OK Dan, when we talked about intranets you brought up various intangible benefits that people get when they run intranets. Do they translate over into the extranet, or is there a new set of factors?

Daniel Agan: Oh no, I think those are transferable benefits; that all the same attributes of streaming media that folks have been describing very well here apply in an extranet environment. I think Paul hit upon a key [point] when he talked about actually hearing it from the horse's mouth, if you will, without playing the telephone game of going through multiple other messengers to deliver a message into important constituencies. But, the one thing that I would add to this is … I spend a fair amount of my time worrying about shareholders, and investors, institutional investors, and industry analysts and financial analysts. And I think the ability to deliver information in a very compelling, effective fashion, as opposed to the proverbial, 'Well, there's a copy of our 10K on our website, which you can download in a PDF file and pore through if you want,' or, better yet, 'Go search the entire database.' A way to actually bring information in genuine communication within that community, I think is a very powerful use for this new technology … to attend the use of streaming media to the corporate benefit. IJ

Last week: The panel discussed their best practice tips for successful deployment of audio and video on a corporate intranet

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