UR – or “Unfortunate Reality” – how creators struggle with AR and VR

I was in a meeting the other day going through my slide deck when I was stopped and asked: “Why isn’t there an “Enterprise YouTube”?”

Tweet: UR – or “Unfortunate Reality” – is why AR and VR need better infrastructure

Great question and one which after a year of presenting a slide titled 4 Things That Remain Unsolved with Video I tend to gloss over. In fact, I was a bit rusty on the answer so I went back to my notes to freshen my memory. As I was doing that, I realised that the reason there is no “Enterprise YouTube” (yet) is fundamental to why we built Overcast and so I thought it is time to share the reason with you.

Enterprise video content and the management of that content was originally inspired by YouTube. Organisations wanted a simple way to upload, store, share and view content on multiple platforms and devices.

There are 3 main challenges that businesses look to solve this unfortunate reality:

  1. Sharing large files over email is not possible so there needs to be a simpler way to share content.
  2. Storing large files is a challenge on local drives so there needs to be a cloud solution that can be accessed from anywhere.
  3. And files are complex with multiple formats needing to be distributed onto multiple platforms and multiple devices. And these formats keep changing so the solution needs to be intuitive and up to date.

In fact – those 3 challenges are the same challenges that Youtube solved for consumers 12 years ago when it launched.

So why hasn’t business taken to Youtube the same way that consumers and amateur content creators have? Answer: Youtube’s revenue model. Youtube makes money out of advertising. So the goal is to get as many people watching the video as is possible. It’s a volume play.

Business goals are different. They want the right people to see the content at the right time (and that can be at any point in the production or distribution process) and they want to be able to store and distribute their content on multiple platforms (sometimes proprietary) which means that they need access to functionality to supplement their unique workflow. With Youtube, you are welcome to share content among friends and the general public, but not so welcome to share on other platforms like Facebook.

And that is the key – “Businesses need access to video functionality to supplement their unique workflows.”

Gartner’s Magic Video Quadrant

According to Gartner’s 2016 Magic Video Quadrant, 22% of workers in Europe and the US have access to some sort of video library to hone their skills. This is up from 0 less than 10 years ago. So the enterprise video industry is growing – it’s just that Gartner et al don’t really know where all the video is, where it sits, how it got there, how it is stored, how it gets shared, or what the metrics are around it. Sure, they can cobble together some facts through questionnaires and analysis, but the lack of a single enterprise video solution is the reason we don’t have really good stats on the size of the industry. And it’s also likely the reason for so much confusion around analytics altogether (but that is a blog for another day).

So instead of a single solution, there are many software industries that all support video to some extent. There are digital asset management platforms, media asset management platforms, online video platforms, content management systems, ERP systems, workflow tools, CRM solutions… I could go on, but I think you get the point.

The industry is fragmented. As the use of video has grown, software vendors have done their best to stitch together solutions for their platforms so that at the very least they can say they can offer their clients some sort of workaround. Naturally, some work better than others. Few are very good. Their software industry strategic approach tends to be: “it’s just data so how hard can it be.” But hard it is.

Unfortunate reality

The unfortunate reality about video is that on the creation side there are literally hundreds if not thousands of permutations of formats. New formats are being developed almost daily and each of those formats is unique in some way.

Then on the delivery side, there are hundreds if not thousands of devices to deliver to. Each of those devices has a different screen size and a different operating system. To get a video to play on a screen, it needs to be delivered over broadband at different speeds to maximise the quality of the picture. And even the browser will affect the video.

Just think back to a few years ago and we all watched “Flash” videos. (Remember that message you used to get on your computer– download the latest version of Flash.) Flash was pretty much ubiquitous with up to 80% of all video delivered over the internet being Flash. It was developed by Adobe who is one of the biggest players in the video game. A few years later and it is being decommissioned – no one supports it anymore.

Why are they struggling now?

And the video industry continues to fragment with new formats being created daily. A couple of years ago all anyone could talk about was 3D. Now it’s off the cards, look at what is hot now – 4k, super HD, 360, virtual reality, augmented reality – how often have you viewed any of these formats on your phone? Or on your PC? Or on your TV screen?

The unfortunate reality of why only a small proportion of the planet has been able to actually see this content is that the video files are even bigger, they are even more complex and they require even more specialist technology to be able to convert and deliver them. No wonder the suppliers of software solutions are struggling to provide video solutions for their customers! In fact, the reality among most suppliers of software solutions is “We do video but we struggle and we know we need to do it better.”

The Unfortunate Reality for enterprise brands and the reason we don’t have an Enterprise Youtube is – the software platforms that businesses trust to manage their digital assets simply don’t have the capabilities to keep up with the times and support the management and delivery of new formats.

And that, my friends, is the main challenge that we are trying to solve at Overcast.

Now, one final word of advice. Beware of the “end-to-end” video solution that your software platform tells you they can support. If they are not partnering with video specialists, if they are not integrating specialist technology into their solution, if they are trying to solve it on their own then the chances are you are being sold a lemon when it comes to video management.

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