MAD Perspectives Blog

Likes and Dislikes about B2B Use of Video Solutions

Peggy Dau - Monday, November 29, 2010

November's blogs have focused on the use of video solutions in the B2B market.  Some of you may be asking, well, heck why doesn't MAD Perspectives use video?  Bottom line, we're a small business who loves video and leverages it in many ways (webinars, online video tutorials, desktop video conferencing, etc.) but hasn't prioritized it's use - yet! 

What do I like or not like about how i see B2B companies using video?

I like:

- Executive Presentations -  Or, perhaps I like dynamic executives who can overcome the well scripted content to inject personality.  I'm happy when they focus on 3 key points and support these points with market perspective, customer testimonials or facts and figures.  I'm even happier when they inject personal anecdotes (even if they are scripted).  I want to see executives interact with their audience.  I want to see them get excited about their products and solutions.

- Product Demos - It's a great way to see and hear how to use a new product.  The best videos are those that have a passionate spokesperson who REALLY understands the product and its target market.  The demonstrater who can talk clearly, succinctly and knowledgably about their solution can win new customer while retaining existing ones.

- Webinars/Webcast - They are a great educational resource whether it is to gain high level knowledge, engage in Q&A, gather some market statistics.  Webinars are often the first step in the product/company awareness process for a prospective buyer.  The ability to inform, educate and differentiate using this format can arm the potential buyer with great insights before a face to face sales meeting.

- Video Conferencing - there is nothing better than being able to see the person to whom you are speaking!  Even if there is a slight time lapse (i.e., Skype, Windows Live Messenger) there is still the ability to see and read facial expression which add more context to a conversation.  These solutions continue to evolve and I can imagine a future where video conferencing is an every day occurence.

I don't like:

- Executive Presentations - that are sooooo scripted they no longer feel authentic. 

- Product Demos - that use a spokesperson who obviously does not understand the product nor do they understand the target market.  The script is bland and reflects the company's focus on marketing blah blah and ignoring the real needs of the customer.

- Customer Testimonials - that don't explain what the customer problem is or how the company's product helped them solve that problem and what improvement they've seen - in laymans terms!

There are a lot of moving parts when coordinating a video strategy and many of them are quite technical.  If you are looking for insights into streaming media solutions, check out www.streamingmedia.com or www.onlinevideo.net for some insights, best practices and vendor lists.   Understand what you are trying to accomplish before you get buried in the technology.  Who is your target audience?  What do they need to understand?  What information are they seeking?  What action do you want them to take after viewing the video?

We are going through this process here and wee hope to jump into the video world in 2011.  Hopefully, we'll be able to share that experience with you!

What's your perspective?





Are You Using Online Video?

Peggy Dau - Monday, November 22, 2010

Do you or your company use an Online Video Platform?  Video is a pervasive part of our lives from the content we watch on TV to the content we watch online.  Whether for business or for pleasure we consume a LOT of video content. According to Forrester Research, 71% of today's online audience watches video.  All of the Fortune 500 use video for both internal and external communications.   For business, video provides a forum to:

     - Simplify complex topics with words and actions rather than lengthy whitepapers
     - Demonstrate the use of a product or service
     - Share your company’s personality and culture
     - Increase customer trust

Strategy Analytics estimates that the Online Video Platform industry will be worth more than $1 billion by 2015, up from $200 million in 2010.   An online video platform (OVP) includes the basic components to put video on your website (and elsewhere on the web), in a professional manner.  It includes content hosting, a content management system, delivery to multiple players, customization, management tools to track and analyze consumption and the ability to monetize the content.  OVPs provide small, medium and large businesses with the opportunity to easily integrate video into their communication strategies.


Leading OVP vendor, targeting the enterprise market, include (but are not limited to):

  •  - BrightCove
  •  - DigitalSmiths
  •  - EdgeCast
  •  - Fliqz
  •  - Kaltura
  •  - Kontiki
  • Limelight
  •  - Move Networks
  •  - Oooyala
  •  - Sorensen Media
  •  - thePlatform
  •  - Twistage
  •  - VMix
  • If this is overwhelming, the site Vid Compare, can help you narrow down your options based your functional requirements.  However, it is more important to think about how and why you are going to use video.  Like every other communication strategy, video usage must be thoughtful and requires planning.   What are your tangible goals for using video?  Who is your target audience?  What kind of information are they interested in? Do you have a budget?  Do you have executive support?  These are just of few of the questions that should be driving your overall video strategy. 
  • Assuming your strategy is defined, Mark Brodie, at MIB MediaWorks, suggests the following when considering using online video for your communication efforts:

    Believability --- Make sure what you say is credible and that the visuals support and enhance that message.  Above all, demonstrate that you believe in your product or service.

    Visually Striking --- Images are the key to delivering a positive message.  Your vido must look professional and provide the view with a clear picture and understanding of your product or service.

    Look Professional --- Whoever you choose to produce your video, ensure that they know how to put your message and product or service in the best light.

    Words are Important --- The script needs to attract the ear as well as the eye.

    Personality counts --- Whoever is featured in should be able to project a positive, thoughtful image of your company.

    Where you shoot the video is important --- make sure the location reflects your product or service.

  • Additional thoughts, from Mark, related to planning your video production:

  •    - Video production can be complicated and expensive or simple and straightforward. The only way to keep it the time and money you spend reasonable is to take the time to answer the questions outlined below and give those answers to the professional producer or production company.
  •    - What is the specific purpose of the video?
  •    - Who is the audience?
  •    - What are the objectives of the video?
  •    - Where is the video to be shot?

   - Who is writing the script?

  •    - Who is making the final decision on the video?
  •    - Who is performing on camera, actors or staff?
  •    - What possible titles and graphics will be needed?
  •    - What is the deadline?
  •  
  •    - What type of distribution?
  •  
  •    - How will the video program be used or shown?
  •  
  •    - Are DVD’s or tape duplications required?
Is your company thinking about using video to connect more intimately with your customers or business partners?  These tips from a video production expert should help in the planning process.  My thanks to Mark Brodie for sharing his insights!

 

What’s your perspective?



Telepresence - Its Time has Come!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When it comes to video conferencing solutions, telepresence is king.  Telepresence is an immersive video conferencing experience with enhanced audio/video enablilng an experience as close to face to face as current technology will allow.  Why is telepresence so compelling?  It provides a customer experience that puts traditional video conferencing to shame.  The key differentiator is the ability to look your participants in the eye, even when they are in a room half way around the world.

Telepresence (or dedicated video conferencing) solutions typically run on a dedicated network, provide very high Quality of Service, include high end audio/video tools and studio style lighting.  All of this provides the endusers an impressive alternative for avoiding airports, travel delays and overall travel expenses.  Most companies that install telepresence already have some experience with video conferencing and use it primarily for internal communications.  However, those internal communications often include executive briefings with customers.  Telepresence improves employee productivity, enhances effective collaboration, accelerates decision making and reduces your company's carbon footprint.

When it comes to companies offering telepresence solutions, Cisco leads the pack.  With their acqusition of Tandberg earlier this year, Cisco arguably has the broadest set of video conferencing/telepresence solutions for business ranging from small to large (and pricing commenserate with size of rooms, number of people and locations).   I have not had the chance to experience Cisco's solutions but have been impressed by their overall strategy related to all things video (for both business and consumer). 

As a former HP employee, I often leveraged HP's Halo Rooms for executive meetings, training sessions and team meetings.  With a global team spread across 3 countries, Halo helped my team manage its travel budget yet still benefit from virtual face to face meetings for internal collaboration, quarterly reviews and hands on solution development.  HP's solutions target the large, multi-national enterprise who may select to install and manage the services themselves or have HP manage it for them.

I recently met with a new entrant into the teleprsence market, Vu Telepresence.  headquarted in India with a keen eye on the U.S. market, Vu is targeting SMBs who cannot afford the high-end, elegant solutions offered by Cisco, HP or Polycom.  I participated in a live session connecting NY, Silcon Valley and Bangalore.  While the system does not enjoy the studio style lighting of the high-end systems, it does provide high quality audio/video, the ability to share a laptop screen and connect up to 6 locations.  The Vu Telepresence solution is a good fit for individuals in SMBs that need to connect between georgraphically dispersed offices.  Think of small to mid size law firms and technology companies with off-shore development or manufacturing.

I'm encouraged to see the investment and growth in this market. I am a big fan of solutions that enable employees and business colleagues to connect and collaborate quickly and easily.  Solution pricing ranges from the low end (Vu Telepresence) of $1500 for one station to the high end (Cisco, HP or Polycom) of $350,000 for a dedicated, private networked, custom built studio. IDC forecasts the dedicated video conferencing and telepresence market to grow to $8.8B in 2014 from $1.9B in 2009.  This is a collobaration solution whose time is now.  The economic recession has forced companies to re-think their travel options.  These high quality video conferencing solutions provide an attractive alternative to time and money consuming travel.

What's your perspective?



Video and Enterprise Communication

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Video is a pervasive part of our lives.  As consumers we watch TV to enjoy comedy, sports, entertainment and news.  We also go online for this same content and more.  We go to YouTube to check out user generated videos as well as professional videos.  We use Skype to for ad hoc video communication.  Enterprise business recognizes the value and power of video, but is still predominantly using video for internal purposes.  Consider the power of video and then consider video as a critical part of the enterprise communication strategy.

Large enterprises have been leveraging video for employee education, customer training, customer support, product promotion and market awareness for many years.  These large (think Fortune 500) companies are also targets for Unified Communication solutions offered by companies such as Cisco, MicrosoftHP and others.  However, there are also many vendors offering solutions for video streaming, video conferencing, webcasting, web conferencing and more.  According to Forrester Research’s Enterprise and SMB Networks and Telecommunications Survey from Q1 2010, within the next 12 months:

-          31% of companies  are interested in Desktop IP Video Conferencing solutions

-           29% of companies are interested in enterprise IP/Digital Video for internal purposes

-          32% of companies are interested in immersive video conferencing (i.e., telepresence)

However, few companies have actual plans to implement and deploy these solutions.    Adoption of these solutions will take into account business requirements, geography, feature/functionality, price, impact on corporate network and ongoing management.  Why should companies be developing actionable plans for video solutions?  Here are some pros and cons:

 

PROS

CONS

-          Video is expressive and compelling

-          Video solutions are complex

-          Video enables participants to see body language, facial expressions and reactions

-          Video infrastructure is expensive    

-          Video is more memorable than the written word

-          Video is time consuming to create, edit, process, upload and consume

-          Video enhances clarity, authenticity and credibility of messaging

-          Video needs to be distributed with multiple media player options (i.e., Microsoft, Real, Apple)

-          Video can be re-purposed across a variety of distribution channels

 

-          Video solution vendors offer increasingly cost-effective business models

 

-          Video can reduce travel expenses

 

 

As companies develop their plans for incorporating video into their enterprise communication strategy, they should consider:
1. How the company will use video

  •      - For internal communication and collaboration
  •      - For external communications and education
  •      - One to one, one to many or many to many communication
  • 2. Developing Content
  •      - Length of meeting or presentation
  •      - Goals for the meeting
  •      - Personality mapping (consider your audience and the type of presenter who can create best impact)
  •      - Metadata description of content
  •      - Search Engine Optimization (based on title and metadata)
  • 3. Post event activity
  •      - Availability of on-demand video “replay”
  •      - Posting/Distribution of content on website or 3rd party sites (i.e., YouTube, BrightTalk)

 

Video has become more than a solution for pushing information to a target audience.  It has become part of the real-time communication process.  With desktop video conferencing and immersive video conferencing (think telepresence) ranging from high-end to low-end, companies have greater opportunities to leverage video on a daily basis.  Whether you are a large enterprise or a small/medium sized business, video can help you communicate with your audience.  Aligning the use of video with your overall business strategy is critical.  Aligning internal business groups (i.e., Execs, marketing, sales, IT, etc.) is also important.  How is your company going to incorporate video into your communication strategy?

What’s your perspective?



Social Media at Compuware - a case study

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

As part of goal to share social media experiences at B2B companies, we are releasing a new case study this week.  Compuware has been providing software, experts and best practices to make your applications work and delivery business value for 25 years.  Compuware also embraces employee empowerment. 

Compuware's approach to integrating social media into their overall marketing strategy reflects this commitment.  Some key takeaways include:

     - Empowerment - Trust your employees.  You hired them because they possessed certain qualities which includes their ability to represent your company.

     - Collaboration - The ability to interact with fellow employees is as important as the ability to interact with business partners and customers.  Great solutions come from great conversations.

     - Culture - The culture of a company is a key element for prospective employees.  Social media allows companies to showcase all sides of their corporate culture.

Learn more about Compuware's use of social media by requesting the case study at:  http://www.madperspectives.com/contact .

What's your perspective?



Keeping Up With the Changing Face of Communication

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Last week, I attended an event hosted by Citrix Online.  We all know Citrix through their variety of collaboration tools such as GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar and GoToMyPC.  The theme of this event was the changing face of communication.  In addition to comments from Citrix CEO, Brett Caine, there were keen insights from Aline Wolff, associate professor of management & communications at NYU; TJ Keitt, analyst at Forrester Research; and, Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post.

Some key takeaways:

 

     - The flexible workplace is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.  However, face-to-face meetings have become a luxury.  Telecommuting has become the norm for many mid-size to large companies.  This is, in part, due to improved networking, security and distribution technologies.  it is also due to the mobile nature of today's business world.  Telecommuting does not necessarily mean working at home.  It also means woking on the go.  This requires devices that allow workers to access private and public networks from home, on the train or at the airport.  Thank goodness that those devices and technologies exist, along all aspects of the communications value chain.  They enable secure, reliable access and delivery of content.

    - Technology is helping us build trust and rapport between colleagues and between businesses. Trust is the number one concern for many individuals when selecting a vendor.  Unfortunately, the financial melt-down, CEO misbehavior, federal government partisan stonewalling and high unemployment help create an atmosphere of skepticism and mistrust.  However, the advent and near dominance of social networks as an avenue to personalize business and government, can also foster rapport between geographically disperse colleagues and influence trust.  Companies are sharing more information in a dynamic, ad hoc way.  They are soliciting input from their customers and responding (most of the time) to their questions and concerns.  These networks, and the ease of accessibility to these networks via many devices, cultivate intimacy, personality and yes, trust.  We feel like we have “insider” knowledge of the company and its products.

     -However, this in turns leads to our addiction to the technology.  We are online 24x7.  We are anxious if we cannot access email.  We purchase the latest devices in the form of smart phones, iPads and tablets so that we can tweet, Facebook, read and consume content.  We are setting expectations that we are available and accessible to our companies and our clients all the time.  With this addiction, how do we focus on the things that are really important?  How do we make smart decisions if we are exhausted from consuming so much content?  We crave the data, but can we actually take in so much data that we aren’t capable of making decisions, simply because we think there is more information that will help us with that decision?  Or, because we are distracted by the device and content it provides?

Net, net, communication methods and styles are changing.  The days of tops down marketing have already shifted although big brands still push their story across multiple communication channels.  The difference is that they must listen to their customers to validate that their story is relevant.  We all must be aware of and consider adoption of those technologies that simplify our lives, enable real time communication, streamline access to solution and allow collaboration.  We do need to be cautious about becoming addicted to these technologies, but we cannot hide our heads in the sand, like the proverbial ostrich. 

Are you communicating on the go?  Are you using social networks and mobile devices to "keep up"?  How much time do you spend on business vs. personall communication?   Are you able to put your device down and spend quality time with friends and family?  I'm interested in your thoughts!

What’s your perspective?



Benefits from B2B Communities

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 18, 2010

Community is a hot topic this week as we are amazed at the successful rescue of 33 trapped miners in Chile.   They seemingly happily co-existed in extraordinary circumstances for 69 days.  They formed their own community based on their circumstance.  However, they were already part of a community when they went into the mine.   I celebrated a milestone birthday this weekend and was surrounded by a community of friends who represent different parts of my life.  Dictionary.com defines community as “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.”

We live in communities built of houses, schools, shops, restaurants, roads and local government.  We work in communities defined by the structure of our respective businesses.  However, since the rise of the Internet, we also exist in many virtual communities.  What makes an online community? How do we develop, foster or join these communities? We join groups based on our desire for:

    •      - Shared experiences
  •      - Knowledge on products, services and solutions
  •      - Q&A with perceived experts
  •      - New, or insider, information and/or documents
  •      - Status, visibility, connectivity


Now, think about communities as it relates to your customers.  Where are they going to obtain information, share content or ask questions?  You want to be in the same places.  You can probably make some assumptions based on your industry.  However, you can also use some simple tools such as
Trackur to see what social sites your contact database is accessing.  Of course, the simplest way is to just ask them!

By participating in communities, your business will benefit from:

  •      - Live interaction with potential customers
  •      - Understanding customer concerns and priorities
  •      - Gaining feedback on product feature/ functionality
  •      - Brainstorming new ideas
  •      - Greater awareness
  •      - Better qualified leads


That said, is important to think of a community from a sense of participation and interaction.  The purpose of a community is not about marketing your business.  It is about learning, probing, exchanging, and listening.  Isn’t that what you do in your local community?  Why would it be any different for your business?

What’s your perspective?



Social Media at North Plains - a Case Study

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MAD Perspectives is releasing its first B2B social media case study today.  As we've talked to and worked with clients, we've realized that there is a a lot of confusion and concern at B2B companies about how to integrate social media into their overall marketing strategy.  While social media can be leveraged for more than marketing, this is often the starting point for most companies.  Given the growth of social media consumer centric origins, the concerns of B2B companies are valid.

We have reached out to colleagues in different industries to understand how they have pursued their social media strategies.  The companies reflected in the case studies are not necessarily MAD Perspective clients.  They are companies are who experimenting with social tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and wikis.  My thanks to the subject of our first case study, North Plains Systems.

Some key learnings at North Plains include:

- "committment and intention" are critical to social media success

- promoting webinars across social platforms, particularly LinkedIn Groups, will increase webinar attendance

- a small marketing team can benefit from a cross platform tool to manage posting simultaneously to multiple social sites

To request the entire case study, please click here: http://www.madperspectives.com/contact to fill out the form and a copy of the case study will be emailed to you.

What's your perspective?



The Social Web - Empowering Customers

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 04, 2010

Last week, Nigel Fenwick, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester spoke in a joint Forrester/ NewsGator webinar.  The topic was Boosting IT Productivity with Social Technologies.  However, Nigel validated several thoughts that had been bouncing around in my brain. He speaks about the influence and shifts in mobile devices, social technologies, pervasive video and cloud computing.  Each of these converge to enable a more intelligent and influential customer, the empowered customer. I have been thinking about the shift from a focus on customer satisfaction to customer experience and how this has changed, dramatically, with the usage of social platforms.  While I often talk to clients about employee empowerment to use and leverage social technologies, I had not thought about the flip side – that of empowered customers.

Thanks to the social web, customers have access to more information than ever.  It is not just information developed and distributed by various corporate marketing teams.  It is information from individual employees, customers, business partners, competitors, supply chain vendors and anyone else who may interact with that company, its products or employees.  The online customer support forums of the early millennium have evolved to include live online discussions (by text or VoIP) with support staff and interactive chats with fellow customers.  If we are not satisfied with the support we receive, we tweet or Facebook immediately – and usually get some kind of attention from the company’s support team.

Thanks to the social web, prospective buyers can research, investigate and analyze products, services, reputations, ethics, roadmaps and competitors.  They come to you, the vendor providing their product or service of choice, armed with intelligent questions.  They are ready to make decision, but have perspectives based on the information that have gathered and interpreted.  These perspectives will influence their discussion with you (and others!) regarding features, functionality, delivery and pricing.

Thanks to the social web, your company and its employees can also be empowered. Your employees can access the same information as your customers.  As mentioned by Nigel in the aforementioned webinar, they use social technologies to get ideas for their job, to research key topics, to collaborate externally to solve a problem.  Your company may say that they already provide them with the tools to collaborate and investigate.  If they do, this is great, but are they using the tools and the platforms that your customers are accessing?  Can you as an employee gather the same kind of insights so that you can understand the customer’s perspective? Tthe ability for employees to understand a customer's motivation can only help them represent the company to its greatest advantage.

Companies used to control the message.  Subsequently the need for employees to participate and monitor online activities was limited to specific initiatives (i.e., customer support).  However, the social web has changed how information is shared.  It is still shared on websites, but customers are seeking authentic insights and finding them via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn Groups, Slide Share, and Scribd.  If your company is just getting started with social technologies, empower your employees to learn in the same fashion as your already empowered customers.

What’s your perspective?



Broadcast Industry Lessons for Telling Your Corporate Stories

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 27, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about the broadcast industry since my return from IBC2010 in Amsterdam, two weeks ago.  As I talk to companies about their use of online vide, social media and other digital media solutions there are many topics which heavily leverage the experience of the largest content owners, broadcasters.  Broadcasters are in the business of creating, managing and distributing content.  They are telling stories to inform, educate and entertain.

Corporations also have stories to tell and they have an increasing number of channels via which they can tell their stories.  The days of static brochures and websites are gone, or at the very least, rapidly disappearing.  Broadcasters have been forced to adopt ‘new media’ solutions to remain relevant.  These new media solutions include:

-          video-on-demand via their branded websites plus social sites such as YouTube

-          blogging to share another perspective on a story or to invite ongoing discussion

-          tweeting on Twitter and posting on Facebook to increase demographic, geographic or socio-graphic reach

-          distributing content via Internet, 3G/4G networks and Wi-Fi to devices of all types

These communication channels allow broadcasters to reach their customers in a new way, in a more interactive, personal and some would say, authentic, manner.  Do corporations in the manufacturing, financial services, healthcare or high tech industries, for example, need to be sharing content in the same way?  The answer is, YES!   Corporations have many stories to tell.  In addition to information about their products, they have insights on their industry and customers.  They can discuss company vision, history, philanthropy or culture, business challenges. They can train their customers, business partners or employees.  Companies have many stories to tell and many channels through which they can reach their customers.

What can they learn from broadcasters?  They can leverage an understanding of:

-          Who is your target customer or audience?  What kind of content do they want to see or read? Product information, customer support issues, competitive analysis, industry benchmarks are all possible topics.   Understanding the stories that need to be told can help you develop a content strategy addressing the needs of your customers.

 

-          What format does your content need to be in?  Various types of content such as audio, video, pictures or text will tell the story in different ways.  Often video is the most memorable, but it can also be the most expensive.   Text provides a way to analyze a situation from multiple perspectives and easily distributed and saved.  It is important to consider the content that format that will make the best impact for the target customer.

 

-          How and where will you distribute your content?    Where are you customers when you tell your story?  Will you need to re-purpose content for different uses?  For example, should an executive video be prepared for distribution to both and mobile?  Is it effective if consumed on a mobile phone?  Or, how about a product training video?  Is it useful for it to be posted on YouTube as well as your corporate website?

 

-          How will you manage your content?  How and where will you store it and find it when you need to access it?  There are metadata (the information about the content) and taxonomy (the hierarchical classification of content) issues to address early on.  Will you need access to the content on a regular basis or is it possible to store it remotely?

 

These are just a few questions that broadcasters address every day.  They seek to maximize impact while streamlining and managing costs related to the production and management of their content.  Content IS their business.  As your company considers its use of digital media solutions to communicate, consider the relevance of each channel for reaching your desired audience.   You also want to maximize your impact and differentiate your market offer.  Think like a broadcaster when telling your story and incorporating different types of media.  You’ll soon have a multi-channel strategy that expands your reach and improves interaction with your customers.  How do you tell your corporate story?

What’s your perspective?