Unfortunately, 2014 will not be the year that technology’s tortoise overtakes the hare.
For much of the past decade, adoption of enterprise streaming capabilities could usually be described in turtle-like terms. Particularly when compared with other software segment superstars like social media, it’s hard not to think of corporate online video as pedestrian.
Wainhouse Research estimates that spending on enterprise streaming technologies will grow at a 20 percent clip in 2014 compared to a year ago. Not shabby, granted. But neither is it the type of accelerated growth that makes stock investors’ hearts flutter.
Instead, much like the hare in the children’s fable, the market for enterprise streaming technologies simply keeps chugging along at a slow-and-steady pace. While category topics that possess more “buzz”— like unified communications and marketing automation—tend to steal the software industry spotlight, enterprise streaming quietly gains a little more traction among corporate users year-after-year.
As the market for business online video follows its methodical growth track through 2014, the trajectory of three key trends through the year will determine just how quickly this segment can close the gap between itself and other enterprise technology categories growing at a zippier pace.
• Meeting Mobile Demand: As is the case in other technology segments, the appetite for porting applications to tablet devices and smartphones seemingly is insatiable. Last year, for instance, only 17 percent of companies had the capabilities to distribute online video to tablet devices, according to a fourth quarter 2013 survey of 1,007 executives fielded by Wainhouse Research. This year, though, another 25 percent of respondents say their organizations plan to implement technologies that enable video distribution to tablets. But while the demand for mobile distribution is there, enabling mobile video is no trivial matter. Network capacity is suspect for video distribution. And—on many streaming platforms—the webcasts delivered to a smartphone bear little resemblance to the style of webcasts business users have grown accustomed to seeing on the desktop. The ability of technology providers to create a viable and reliable streaming experience on mobile devices will have significant influence on businesses’ appetite for pursuing streaming technology investments.
• Roping in the Cloud: The streaming sector is not impervious to the increasingly appealing charms of hosted software deployments. As is the case in other technology segments, the scope of hosted services and solutions that enable elements of the streaming workflow is expanding at a rapid rate. Even so, the rise of cloud computing is not the universal answer for business streaming. One of the key priorities for organizations implementing online video capabilities is making sure that their deployments do no harm to their corporate networks. Consider it as the equivalent to a “Hippocratic Oath” for streaming. As such, issues of security remain paramount. Executives first must make sure that streaming provides content security that keeps outsiders from accessing corporate video information. They must also provide network security via streaming platforms that do not expose corporate networks to external risks. Seeking both the flexibility of hosted offerings and the security afforded by on-premises solutions, look for more vendors in the year ahead to offer “hybrid” solutions that blend hosted and on-premises capabilities together in a single platform offering.
• Finding Video’s Johnny Appleseed: Technology advances are making it possible to sow video into an ever broader array of business applications. Rather than reserving the technology for a handful of marketing webinars, video is evolving into a malleable type of data that can be used to make a range of applications more engaging. Commonplace training sessions can be enhanced through video-lead instruction, for instance. Likewise, pre-recorded videos can be developed to answer customers’ frequently asked questions regarding key product lines. The primary challenge for many organizations is identifying an internal evangelist who can effectively promote wider use of webcasting within the confines of their company. Nearly one-fifth of respondents to Wainhouse Research’s fourth quarter 2013 survey report daily usage of online video. So the pool of candidates with online video experience is sizable. Market success for 2014—and beyond—becomes easier to achieve as existing users become stronger advocates for broader streaming adoption within their organization. Based on the view from the perch of early 2014, it is unclear whether large groups of corporate streaming evangelists will emerge as role models to share their insight with others through the course of the coming year.
It is impossible to gaze into the crystal ball and accurately predict how each of these issues will resolve themselves through 2014. But if this industry segment can collectively post substantial progress in developing mobile capabilities, enabling more robust hybrid solutions and driving greater adoption through evangelization, it stands a reasonable chance of surpassing expectations for growth in the coming year.
Most likely, though, resolution on all these issues is three or more years away. The tortoise will just have to keep plugging away. If that’s the case, it’s not the end of the world for the streaming segment. Remember, over the long haul, it’s slow-and-steady that wins the race.
Steve Vonder Haar is Senior Analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at email@example.com.
Surveys reveal that IT decision makers are divided about technology’s impact.
A recent Harris Poll found that among the general population, U.S. adults are divided on how technology impacts the way we live. Looking more specifically at IT decision makers (ITDMs)—who due to the nature of their vocation are among those most connected to and dependent on communication technologies—reveals heightened positive feelings towards technology, but also some reservations about how it affects our lives.
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 315 full-time U.S. IT decision makers interviewed online recently, and 2,210 U.S. adults surveyed online June 12-17 by Harris Interactive.
• “Technology has improved the overall quality of my life” (Response: 86% ITDMs, 71% U.S. adults).
• “Technology encourages people to be more creative” (Response: 79% ITDMs, 65% U.S. adults).
• “Technology enhances my social life” (Response: 69% ITDMs, 52% U.S. adults).
• “I use technology as an escape from my busy life” (65% ITDMs, 47% U.S. adults).
Read more of the results of the study, including ITDM’s reticence about technology, on Harris Interactive.
Source: Harris Interactive