The world of business video is becoming a three-ring circus, with the folks at Cisco, Microsoft, and Adobe all vying for the big-top spotlight.
At least that’s the conclusion that one may draw after walking the floor of the Streaming Media West trade show held in Los Angeles in early November.
Sure, more vendors than ever before are vying for the attention of corporations, educational institutions, and government agencies mulling the deployment of video. But the spate of product announcements coming out of the trade show helps to crystallize a vision of market heavily shaped by this technology triumvirate.
Cisco, Microsoft and Adobe are all in the process of creating spheres of influence in which their core product lines are supported and enhanced by the growing cadre of software solutions addressing specific segments of the business video workflow.
Take the case of industry stalwart Accordent Technologies, which unveiled a significant upgrade for its content management solution at Streaming Media West while also announcing a “deep integration” of its offerings with Microsoft’s Sharepoint 2010 and Lync unified communications platform.
Likewise, long-time industry player VBrick announced its own optimization of products to work in conjunction with Sharepoint and Microsoft’s Office Communicator.
Neither of the deals are exclusive, of course. But, by committing to develop solutions that work hand-in-glove with Microsoft platforms, each of the software vendors nudge themselves a little more solidly into the Redmond orbit.
Meanwhile, the fine folks from Adobe rolled into the show touting their business video bona fides more than ever before. Recent upgrades to the Flash Media Server makes it easier than ever to distribute Flash video on corporate networks, giving Adobe the best positioning it has ever had when talking about behind-the-firewall implementation.
Flash’s strong position on the consumer Web has made it a favorite of hosted online video platforms, such as Brightcove. Likewise, MediaPlatform – a long-time industry competitor that formerly operated under the name Interactive Video Technologies – spent Streaming Media West gushing over the opportunities it now sees with the integration of Flash capabilities into its solution for enterprise use.
Of course, aligning with big technology patrons is not exactly new. Business video vendors like Qumu have pushed the envelope in this regard, forging and promoting partnerships with the likes of Microsoft and Polycom in years past. The difference now is that seemingly everybody in the business video space is looking for a dance partner— and some of the big companies are actually willing to take the floor, for a change.
While many of the software developers in the business video space are more than willing to take a twirl with Microsoft and Adobe, most secretly yearn to win favor with Cisco. Given its dominating role in the video market—and enterprise communications, in general—Cisco represents the gold standard in marketing partnerships for the emerging class of companies seeking to sell sophisticated business video capabilities. While Cisco provides strong support for the video ecosystem in general, any business video software developer would readily acknowledge that they would welcome stronger ties with the Cisco selling machine.
Indeed, the secret, unspoken dream of almost every entrepreneur walking the Streaming Media West is to get “Tandberged,” that is, acquired by Cisco in much the same way that it purchased video conferencing vendor Tandberg earlier this year in a deal for $3.4 billion.
But it may be a tad too early to think about that. First, acquisition activity among the top-tier of technology companies could shuffle the budding trio of business video orbits represented by Cisco, Microsoft, and Adobe.
Over the long-haul, Adobe is the wild card. Earlier this year, the company was rumored to be in acquisition talks with Microsoft. Cisco also would make a logical suitor.
But it Adobe were ever to sell itself, Interactive Media Strategies sees the best fit being a sale to Google that would use an acquisition to gird itself for battle with Apple in the tablet computing space.
While business video clearly would not be a driver in that type of acquisition scenario, the net result would be a business video sector where Cisco, Microsoft, and Google ultimately would be competing to win the hearts and minds of the growing array of software developers serving the corporate market.
Now, that would be a circus worthy even of P.T. Barnum.
Steve Vonder Haar is president of Interactive Media Strategies.