Adding Video to SharePoint Portals
Many organizations have adopted Microsoft SharePoint as a central employee portal -- a way to deliver and share documents, create accessibility and encourage collaboration -- but managers are under increasing pressure to add more value to SharePoint investments. One way to do this is to incorporate video into the SharePoint experience.

The desire for video capabilities isn't just coming from the top down -- studies show that enterprise employees are increasingly asking for greater video support within the SharePoint environment as well. In a survey of 500 SharePoint users, more than half indicated a desire for live streaming video via SharePoint, while 37% wanted fully featured support for categorizing and managing videos. Another one-third of respondents indicated a need for better video collaboration capabilities within the platform.

When SharePoint 2010 was released three years ago, it contained some significant improvements for video, including support for posting, viewing, rating and editing video content natively within SharePoint. This prompted more organizations to consider using video in SharePoint.

With SharePoint 2013, the functionality has improved again. But the reality is that the majority of enterprises are still running SharePoint 2010 and will do so for some time.

Simply put, the native capabilities for video within SharePoint do not scale. SharePoint 2013 added features for creating video libraries where the video content lives outside of SharePoint, accessible via a URL link. However, that means that video assets are not managed in the same way as other assets, if at all. A better approach for enterprises looking to do live and on demand video streaming in SharePoint is to use an enterprise video platform to extend SharePoint capabilities.

While there are a lot of ways to leverage video in SharePoint with an enterprise video platform, organizations can start with the top four functions that are most in demand today and expand from there.

1. Cover the Basics: Provide a Social Video Experience within SharePoint

Most companies have existing video assets. Typically these files are distributed among departments, servers or even on public sites like Facebook and YouTube. A centralized video library creates one location for all video assets, making them not only trackable, but searchable.

An organized video library also acts as a repository for videos that can be linked to other pages within SharePoint, such as product pages or HR/benefits. Visual content drives engagement. For example, just one month after the introduction of Facebook timeline for brands, visual content -- photos and videos -- saw a 65 percent increase in engagement. Connecting text-centric SharePoint pages with video clips and carousels can similarly increase the uptake in information and messages.

Don’t forget to integrate employee training with the launch of a video platform. Organizations that fully leverage video should provide instructions for quick-capture video creation, self-service video publishing and social networking features to ensure that employees not only have access to the video tools, but know how to create, upload and share content.

2. Engage Employees: Centralize Live Video Streaming Over One Portal - SharePoint

The next level of video engagement is live streaming video. Companies are starting to see the benefit of centrally-delivered live video such as CEO or CFO messages to employees, sales kick-offs, staff training or internal product demos.

Through SharePoint, organizations can publish and stream live video webcasts to an easily accessible calendar of events or link to employees’ Outlook or other iCal calendar systems. Features like live polling, ratings and reviews can provide quantitative and qualitative feedback to the content creators, further improving engagement.

While SharePoint hasn’t yet optimized delivery of all SharePoint services over tablets, it will become easier as SharePoint adds more mobile functionality. With mobile support built into the enterprise video platform, organizations can deliver video to iOS, Android and Windows devices now, with support for both on demand and live video streaming.

3. Add Context: Link Videos To Other Relevant SharePoint Content

We already know that video can increase employee engagement with textual content. But it also works the other way around. Often, companies post video clips without additional context. Key to video usage is to provide additional documentation regarding date, speakers, key points, usage suggestions and other information. Providing links during the video publishing process to other documents, images and pages that exist within SharePoint makes it easier for employees to access complementary information on a given topic.

4. Understand the Importance of Dedicated Storage and Delivery For Video

For users to be fully engaged in video on any platform, they must be able to access video assets quickly and easily. This means not only watching video but participating in content development, uploading and sharing. But at many companies, even these basic functions are challenging. More than 500 portal users were asked “Have you ever tried to upload a video file into your enterprise portal or enterprise collaboration application? If yes, what was the video upload experience like?” Nearly two-thirds of respondents experienced challenges ranging from a total lack of support for uploading, to video files simply taking too long to upload, or the video upload having a system-wide impact.

To ensure that the technology itself isn't a barrier to engagement, consider leveraging a dedicated file system for video storage, rather than video stored as BLOBs in the default SharePoint content database. One compelling reason for this is that the SharePoint file upload size limit is 2 gigabytes, meaning some assets may simply be too large to share. Also, when videos are stored in SharePoint they are treated like any other type of content, quickly filling up space in the SharePoint content database. Using a dedicated file system for video storage prevents the SharePoint database from growing too large, reaching its maximum recommended size of 200 gigabytes, and ensures a better performing SharePoint site.

Finally, SharePoint doesn't transcode video files to any other format to support greater usability. Organizations end up with multiple types of video, at different formats, sizes and quality without any guarantee that all videos will work on all devices or browsers. A video platform supports transcoding of uploaded video files to ensure that all videos exist in the right formats for all users.

Employee video usage is here to stay and growing fast. Organizations that adopt an enterprise video platform and encourage video communication through SharePoint are more likely to have employees that engage in video and are more engaged in the business.

Title image courtesy of Dusit (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Looking for a little more SharePoint love? Read Mike Ferrara's What's New in Enterprise Content Management for SharePoint 2013 #spc12