Studio-in-a-box Seeks to Accelerate Enterprise Video Adoption
Aug 28, 2008 10:27 AM, By John W. DeWitt
Corporate video users can produce professional-quality webcasts using the studio-in-a-box platform that combines IVT Studio webcasting software with Siris Media Studio Pro hardware.
Business use of video communications is starting to explode, especially in large enterprises, says Phillip Whalen, president and CEO of webcasting software company IVT. But as with any emerging technology, there are the usual catches to video’s proliferation: the cost and staff expertise required, particularly for video with high-quality production values. To streamline the expense and effort of high-quality video webcasting, IVT recently partnered with Siris Media, a maker of digital media production hardware, to introduce what they’ve dubbed a “video webcast production studio in a box.” SVC talked with Whalen about the new studio-in-a-box—which combines the IVT Studio and Siris Media Studio Pro products—and how it can help established video users do more, lower the entry barrier to new video users, and enable AV integrators to offer more video capabilities to customers of all sizes.
SVC: By most accounts, video adoption is growing rapidly in the enterprise. What’s happening now in the marketplace? What are the benefits of video?
Whalen: It’s an incredibly exciting time. In the last year corporate America has woken up to the fact that video communications represents a whole new way of communicating beyond the methods they typically use. I was one of the pioneers bringing email to the desktop over 20 years ago. At the time, no companies had email on every desktop and few had any e-mail at all, but I said it would revolutionize the way companies communicate.
I see the same phenomenon happening with video in the enterprise. And just as email did not replace mail, phone, fax, etc.—it supplemented all of that—I don’t think we’re going to replace email, fax, or phone, but we’re going to supplement them. Video allows people to communicate a very broad amount of information in a way that only a face-to-face communications will allow.
What prompted IVT and Siris Media to form this partnership?
Whalen: The genesis of the relationship is that we both are providers of enterprise-class or professional-grade webcasting and video products in the enterprise. Siris Media had recognized that not every company could afford to outfit a professional recording studio, and while most big companies have a nice setup for doing video productions, the studio is typically well-booked. And if someone wants to do something smaller or on the side, it’s pretty expensive to use that large studio resource. So Siris said that if we could put together a box sitting in the corner with a professional camera, teleprompter, professional lighting, etc., it would eliminate need for big production facility.
One of our large joint customers is a very sophisticated user of video. Its corporate headquarters has one of the premier production facilities in the world, and in other company locations, there are 10 individual mini-studios that use our IVT Studio product. But those 10 facilities were booked all the time, so the customer bought a number of Siris Media’s StudioPro boxes and wanted to use IVT’s software with Siris Media’s box. So they prompted us to talk to Siris.
How does your studio-in-a-box work? How would it be used typically?
Whalen: If you want to do a 15-minute video update on a new product, you don’t want to employ all your valuable studio resources. If the product manager can sit down at a desk, he or she can record the video and do a sophisticated webcast—including interactive aspects of webcasting, such as polls or surveys, identifying what browser the webcast is being viewed from, all those important stats, etc. It can dramatically increase the use of these video capabilities for a very low dollar amount. It’s good for departments that can’t get access to the big facility or don’t want the costs —and for smaller companies or new video users.
The studio-in-a-box requires no infrastructure—just a quarter of an office space. Our software is pre-installed on it, and it’s everything in a box—camera, lighting, backdrop, backlighting, and so on. You just plug it in, connect an Ethernet cable with Internet access, and you’re pretty much ready to go.
What would be the advantages to corporate AV integrators who might offer this product to their customers? How would they sell it? What applications are not suitable for it?
Whalen: For AV integrators who are installing studios, videoconferencing, and projection systems, this would be a natural, high-value add-on with not a huge amount of effort to install and configure. Their customers likely would be more comfortable having an expert install and test the system. It’s also a good entry-level way to bring in video to new corporate users.
We think this allows the professional AV contractor to walk in with a whole new value proposition. Here’s something that can eliminate that on-site sales training meeting, for example, and corporate users can measure who came to the webcast, how long they stayed, what particular areas they spent more time on, etc. So it’s a way to dramatically increase the effectiveness of communications at a modest cost.
However, if someone wants to do a video walkthrough tour, this is not the right device. It’s intended for an individual giving a presentation or communicating a message in a studio-like setting to an audience.