December 08, 2000, 3:27 PM — I've recently been helping companies design complete streaming media systems to
deliver information to their employees, partners, and customers. These systems must
produce content, manage it, get it to end users, and then support the viewer's
experience in some way (play the frames of video in sequence, for example). In the
process, I've learned a few lessons that may save you some heartache.
Make (business) sense of streaming
If those involved in a project understand the value proposition of their investment
early in the deployment, the whole project has a greater likelihood of success. Such an
understanding is easiest when the proponents are businesspeople facing real business
challenges (as opposed to technologists with an itch or a mandate from above). The
business managers have to make a solid business case, first to get the support of the
content creators and network managers, then to get resources from senior management to
support an ongoing investment.
A popular application for streaming media is the support of new product launches.
You've probably seen a company introduce its product, trot out a few satisfied
customers, then attempt to charge up a sales force to take the product to market.
Companies with national or global markets can justify this in short order.
There are hundreds of other business uses for streaming media as well. I recently
analyzed a deployment that paid for itself solely on the basis of retaining attorneys
in a firm.
This said, without a set of feedback mechanisms and activity tracking and reporting
systems for the servers, most streaming media managers will never know the precise
impact of their system. Every streaming media deployment needs to include a software
component with which it can measure user access and interact with users by offering
incentives, tests, or contests.
If you are looking for a killer solution for this part of your deployment, keep
looking. Streaming media asset monitoring and reporting systems are relatively
Begin with high-quality content
You've heard this a million times, but it bears repeating: invest appropriate resources
and attention in the content-creation system. Storyboard the video before capturing the
first element. Use only high-quality video cameras. Pay special attention to the
acoustics of the room in which you are taping.
If you don't prepare adequately, if the raw audio or video fails to meet your
quality expectations or isn't edited by professionals to include titles and
transitions, the whole solution is of limited use.