Times may seem bleak: live shows are cancelled, be it sports or music; people have been pushed back and confined to their homes even for work; entire cities are on lockdown, some indefinitely. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, it feels like our entire world has come to an abrupt halt. Businesses are taking hits and economies are getting the brunt of it. Productivity has been slashed by at least half, if not more, because businesses are forced to either lay off a chunk of the workforce or adopt a work-from-home model, which significantly widens a communication gap between the employees.
But this doesn't have to be the end of the world, especially in 2020 where we have information and communication technology way beyond what one can conceive, with staggering abilities to maintain a close-knit workforce. In fact, let's take this opportunity to look at how easy communication is today and how difficult we make it out to be for ourselves.
Communicating Through Video
Video is a severely underrated and underutilized means of communication and it's about time we harness its full potential and use it to our advantage. Given the current global climate, remote communication is essential for businesses to effectively tie together the pieces that have been forced apart. In other words, having employees work from home only works when communication is seamless.
Because of its face-to-face nature, video bridges the gap between remote and in-person communication by adding a layer of personal connection. It is also more effective in delivering messages through tones of voice and facial expressions, such as emphasis or urgency, that would otherwise be lost in text, such as emails.
When considering video communication, most executives would be tempted to opt for two-way communication, such as video conferencing. However, there are plenty of circumstances where live video streaming would suffice.
Live Video Streaming
When you have to reach a large audience of a seemingly unlimited number, for instance all the employees of your company, it can get cumbersome to have a two-way communication, especially if you're bound by a certain MCU server capacity and everyone has a different bandwidth, in which case you will have a considerable delay in transmission on many ends and you will end up spending half your time talking over each other and repeating yourself. In such a case, communication can get frustrating and exhausting for everyone involved, which, in turn, will make people lose interest and tune out, making the entire ordeal counterproductive.
Using a hefty video conferencing model for corporate communications of this nature would be an overkill, considering its limitations in one-to-many communication. On the other hand, a livestream wouldn't have these limitations, allowing you to effectively reach the entirety of your audience with ease.
However, to truly wring out all the utility from live streaming, you would want to make sure you have a sturdy platform in place with the following features:
Interactivity is a prime requisite in a livestream to make sure that your employees don’t feel like they’re being dictated to and to open a dialogue, effectually engaging your employees. To accomplish this, a livestream should have at least one, or in the best case all, of the following features: live chat, Q&A and surveys. These features open an interactivity channel by allowing the viewers to interact with each other in the chat, as well as with the presenter through questions, while the presenter can gauge the reception of the message by the employees or collect feedback through surveys.
If your livestream is interactive and you get questions from the viewers to be answered in real time or if the content of your stream is time-sensitive, you would need the lowest possible latency to avoid delay in transmission. In a livestream, only the presenter or broadcaster needs to have low latency as opposed to two-way video communications where latency on any one party’s end would throw the entire conference out of whack, which means that as long as the presenter has a strong network connection and a reliable video platform, it will suffice.
You’ll find that in most livestream circumstances, you would want your employees to know when the stream is coming beforehand and lock it in their calendars. This is where scheduling comes in. A decent enterprise video platform would allow you to schedule your livestreams in advance to ensure maximum engagement from your employees.
Playability On Any Device
Being able to view the livestream on any device (PC, mobile phone or tablet) would, in turn, mean that the employees can view the stream from any physical location of their choosing as well, effectively ramping up accessibility and engagement. This feature is most useful when combined with playability on any bandwidth and adaptive bitrate streaming, where a viewer’s bandwidth and CPU capacity is detected and the quality of the stream is adjusted accordingly, all in real-time. This means that the video platform should be able to transcode the livestream to different renditions.
Since, in a livestream, you’re essentially talking to a camera lens, you can’t immediately tell who’s watching and who isn’t. To analyze audience engagement, you would need live analytics telling you everything, such as who’s watching, on what device, where from and much else. After the stream is over, you should know things like how many people watched the stream all the way through and the most viewed part of the stream, as well as what problems people encountered, such as buffering or errors. Furthermore, by embedding a survey in your stream, you should be able to gather not only the answers of the survey, but also how attentively people watched the stream and how many people viewed past the survey. These analytics will help you analyze how much of your message made it to how many people. Live analytics are especially important when you live stream an announcement, an instruction or another message of such nature that should reach everyone.
The entire purpose of a livestream is to reach a large audience, and this can only be accomplished if the video platform is more scalable than the video conferencing models. This means that the platform should be able to accommodate a growing number of viewers without rebuffering and affecting the latency.
If you operate internationally, this is arguably the most important feature for you, considering that you’ll be broadcasting your livestream across multiple time zones. Employees across the world would not realistically be able to tune in to a livestream all at the same time. Even within the same time zone, all the employees may not be able to make time for the stream because of preoccupations or clashes in schedule.
Therefore, it is imperative that the employees have the option to pull the livestream out at a later time of their choosing to view on-demand. Although this way they would lose the ability to interact with the stream, it would still outweigh not watching the video at all.
You may have noticed a recurring theme of driving up engagement. That’s because the only way a livestream would be effective as a communication tool is if the audience is engaged enough to tune in and stay through the end.
VIDIZMO is a Gartner-recognized enterprise video platform that offers all the features mentioned above and much more, which can be deployed on a shared or private cloud, on-premises or a hybrid model, available on the Azure Marketplace and AWS Marketplace.
REMINDER: Stay at home, maintain safe physical distance and wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Stay safe against COVID-19.