So many good reasons to stream live video. So many ways to screw it up. 

According to Forrester, video as an increasingly common channel for both internal communication with other employees and external communication with customers and partners. But longstanding worries over costs, technical hiccups, meticulous planning, expert staffing and other issues make many IT and corporate communications managers wince at the very idea of going live.

What if the CEO is ready, but the network isn't? What if everyone logs on at the same time? What if the videographer is sick that day? What if you record an event and then can't find it in the SharePoint archive?

In a CMSWire webinar yesterday, Brian Prigge, SharePoint architect and product manager for Ramp, explained why those pain points are disappearing, making it possible to launch live-streaming video events on the fly. The webinar, which was also sponsored by Ramp, was titled "Extending the Enterprise CMS with Live Video." You can watch it by clicking here or at the end of this story.

Speeches, Training and Meetings

The growing popularity of live streaming surfaced in a poll of audience members near the start of the program. About 38 percent of the respondents said they already stream large executive presentations and town halls, 22 percent said they stream mid-sized events like training and 18 percent said they stream video for smaller group meetings or to foster collaboration. Another 6 percent said they had other uses.

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"Everybody is creating live events and live streaming for their CEO, but a lot of the time you have cost issues or cost limitations going down to smaller meetings," Prigge said. Perceived cost is the No. 1 objection that Ramp hears because until recently there's been no vendor that could provide a seamless streaming process from the source to the end-user. Some managers even hire TV trucks to help.

However, Prigge said video streaming at live events is moving to more of a self-service model, with tools that let managers set up programs, synchronize with PowerPoint and share the program in minutes, with no support from the IT department.

Video on the Fly

Video events are often associated by many managers with extensive planning — sometimes for months — to assure everything is in place for the critical moment. By contrast, Prigge showed how he set up a video stream in the minutes before the webinar began. "We really don't see the need for that sort of long lead time," he said.

It wasn't long ago that video events required a stage-like studio with special lights, soundproof walls, expensive cameras and a team that knew how to use it properly.

"By and large today, those facilities aren't needed for the smaller events that are moving to live," said Prigge. "The support needs are much, much smaller in today's industry."

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Archiving and search are other problem areas for many users, he said. "That recording, while useful, also needs to be searchable," said Prigge. "Perhaps it was an hour-long training that covered five different topics, and you want to be able to find each and every topic, and each and every step within that topic," he said. "Simply searching for title and description is no longer enough."

Common Pains

A second audience survey confirmed concern about all those issues. Technical issues was a concern of 29 percent of the respondents, while 19 percent cited the lack of support staff, 24 percent feared an unreliable viewer experience and 11 percent saw archiving as a problem.

"We need to be able to schedule and start a live webcast in seconds," Prigge said. "This is the biggest thing we've seen from our users."

Moreover, it should be easy for large numbers of viewers to log on at the same time, to synchronize the speakers with their slides and to deliver the video feed reliably to hundreds or thousands of users. A lot of that can be resolved by relying on SharePoint's ability to manage log-ons, distribution and encryptions. Ramp offers an app that simplifies scheduling the event, launching it and typing presentation slides to the appropriate moment in the presentation.

Word by Word

Ramp also creates a searchable transcript with the help of voice recognition software or it can arrange for a live transcription service if absolute accuracy is required.

The script is matched up with the speaking patterns in the presentation so that you can search the transcript for a term, which results in a list of links to every occasion that term was used. By clicking on a link, you can then view the exact moment in the presentation when it comes up. Archiving of both the video and transcript are automatically completed when the event ends.

Of course there will always be some things to worry about with live video, like whether the CEO will show up on time. 

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by jsawkins.