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Education sets the example for corporate video streaming

Business conferenceMany of the challenges corporations face in on demand or live video streaming are the same as large educational institutions. But while the corporate world has often wandered down the path of unified communications with video teleconferencing between locations, many educational institutions faced the large scale streaming issues straight on.

Class lectures, demonstrations, and theatrical performances are just some of the different events universities stream to students, staff, and benefactors. And they do it on a scale from a few students to many thousands of viewers.

Corporations, especially large enterprises, can learn from what the educational institutions have already figured out. Here are some of the lessons learned from universities using campus wide on demand or live streaming.

It’s all about scale

Generally speaking, expensive and complex audio visual systems don’t scale well. A setup for one large lecture hall may work wonderfully, but won’t fit into the numerous smaller classrooms. Or they are simply too expensive to deploy and maintain campus wide. So many universities are turning to software encoding and using off the shelf cameras with a mixer at a central server, or group of servers.

A similar approach may work for large corporations that often have distributed campus-like environments, even locations around the world.

Central synchronisation

A typical lecture may involve a professor using a laptop to display a presentation or video. There could also be cameras in the lecture hall recording the professor speaking. There may be yet more cameras for different angles on the professor, students, or other objects needing recording for the lecture such as a live demonstration.

Combining all these different camera and audio feeds is an involved and usually complex process. The professors using their own laptops for the presentation probably don’t have the software to encode the video stream of the presentation, plus the lecture may require switching back and forth between objects or audio to capture the essence and meaning. To solve the problem of taking in multiple signals and creating a video that makes sense, universities discovered that sending all the signals to the central server which in turn synchronises them simplifies the process.

Corporations experience similar types of circumstances during an annual meeting that needs to be viewed by employees around the world. There’s usually a presenter and a presentation and sometimes special guests or demonstrations. Central synchronisation can help manage the multiple streams in all these examples.

A single solution

Universities often rely on their computing services, or internal IT departments, to manage the streaming solutions (even if they employ third-party services). As a result, the streaming services are unified campus wide (not to be confused with “unified communications” services or equipment). Students and staff access the streaming services the same way no matter what classroom or building they are in. This is due in part to selecting scalable options that work from small to large classroom, and from a few students to thousands.

Large corporations tend to have many departments, divisions, and locations. A central IT department may manage the company backbone, but when it comes to employing services, each separate entity or division may have a “do what works for us” mentality. The result is many different methods of streaming within the company. Some solutions may rely on makeshift hardware and software, custom AV solutions, or extensions of unified communications options. If an employee transfers or travels to different sites they may need to learn new ways of connecting to their new department or back to the main corporate site.

Education examples demonstrate the value of a single scalable solution for corporations and the simplicity it provides for employees and staff. If you need more information on video or audio streaming for corporations contact us. We can help you find a solution that scales with your business.

Oliver Burt

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