Live Streaming Platform | MediaPlatform

Live Streaming Platform

What is a Live Streaming Platform?

Live streaming platforms empower organizations to easily deliver and manage live internal and external communications. Whether to an audience of one hundred, or directed to hundreds of thousands around the globe, a live streaming platform broadcasts video in real
time, at scale, over the internet.

The evolution of live streaming and broadcasting solutions ensures that today’s technologically sophisticated audiences have access to information at all times. These audiences demand quality content that is accessible regardless of where they are, and no matter what device they are accessing it from. Watching live broadcasts creates levels of excitement and comprehension that simply are not replicable in watching pre-recorded sessions. Live broadcasts are both unpredictable and authentic, making the viewer feel as though they are present in person.

Modern live streaming platforms are not limited to offering one-way, top-down communication. Instead, they rely on sophisticated technology to create and deliver high quality video streams that include features such as real-time Q&A, captioning, and translation. These features and technology ensure that all attendees can easily participate in and understand the messaging delivered, thus providing total engagement with a global audience.

The benefits of live streaming platforms are not limited to the audience. Organizations can deliver real-time polling to gauge audience response, capture analytics that reveal audience sentiment, and can monitor and troubleshoot live event issues in real time.

The cost-benefit of live streaming platforms should not be underestimated. Live streaming platforms allow organizations to onboard new employees, deliver training of new products, host large-scale meeting – such as CEO town halls – without having to incur the risks or
costs of travel, accommodation, or gathering at event venues.

Today’s workforce demands the same quality of video streaming outside the workplace as they do inside the workplace. As more and more organizations are seeking to engage and connect virtually with large audiences, the need for a live streaming platform is becoming essential.

Below we will examine everything you want to know about a live streaming platform: What it is, why it exists, who needs it, and who uses it. We also dig into live streaming equipment, set up, webcast security, video trends, and how to conduct a live webcast.

History of Live Streaming

The first live streaming video event can be traced back to the summer of 1993, when Xerox PARC streamed a live performance of an American band to Australia. A few years later Apple hosted a webcast of the band Metallica in San Francisco.

Even if you are not familiar with how live streaming is utilized in the workplace, you likely have already viewed the live stream of an important event, like a sporting event. Even NASA uses live streaming.

Live streaming is online streaming media broadcasted in real time. Live streaming is happening all over the world, by amateurs and large organizations. Organizations can conduct presentations, town hall meetings, and training sessions via live streaming. This enables attendees to view the same content simultaneously no matter where they are located.

Such events slowly laid the foundation for organizations to consider using live stream to inform and educate their global employee audiences.

How Does Live Streaming Work?

Live streaming relies on several core technologies.

First, and foremost, there are cameras and audio equipment. The signals produced by these devices are then digitized by something called an encoder. A video encoder basically converts video input into a compatible digital format. These signals are then uploaded into the live streaming platform and distributed by a content delivery network (CDN).

The advent of multicasting, versus unicasting, helped improve bandwidth required for all viewers to watch a stream by removing discrete connections required between the end user and the server.

The evolution of the internet (primarily speed) as well as video compression methods made live streaming possible for almost anyone.

Why a Live Streaming Platform?

Live streaming is a great solution for organizations looking to communicate, connect, inform, and engage with a global audience.

Today, all it takes is a decent smartphone or tablet, a strong connection, and a solid live streaming platform.

Live streaming is dynamic and can help build brand awareness and connection, captivate an audience, and inform thousands of people at once.

Growing Sales

Video allows sales reps to visually demonstrate the strength of a solution in real time. Live streaming product demonstrations, for example, allow sales reps to share proven product messaging while staying authentic and personable. It also accelerates sales by allowing for product marketing experts to communicate with large, dispersed prospect or partner audiences without having to leave the room. For critical sales demonstrations, having many stakeholders present can go a long way in sealing the deal.

Enhancing Customer Service

We have all experienced the frustration of unresponsive online customer service. A live streaming video platform removes misunderstandings from poorly written emails, or confusing messages delivered either via one-on-one chats or chat-bots.

Skills and Process Updates

Digital transformation leaders routinely use live video streaming to rapidly train workforces on new tools and business processes. HR and Engagement teams use live video as an integral part of corporate culture, ensuring that even remote or work-from-home employees maintain a personal connection to leaders, peers and to the company mission.

Corporate Events

Live streaming is becoming essential for important customer, industry and partner events which need to be held online for the foreseeable future. By live streaming organization and industry events, organizations can stay top of mind and give important audiences a glimpse into new trends and ideas.

Live Streaming Equipment

Your first live streaming event can be a daunting venture - especially when you realize how much is at stake with live events.

A modern live streaming platform is extremely intuitive to use, allowing almost anyone to be a live streaming expert. Look for platforms that carry a sophisticated feature set to allow you to get the most out of your investment. Features your platform should include:

  • Rapid, software-based deployment
  • The ability to customize the branding and experience of your event
  • Unlimited audience size
  • Sentiment tracking, polling, survey and Q&A features
  • Analytics the definitively tell you what your audience experienced and what they thought of the content presented.

You will also want to ensure that your video and audio sources will provide the quality levels required by varying live events. A tablet or mobile phone might be an acceptable video source for field-based breaking news, but your CEO town hall will likely involve professional cameras and audio-visual teams to ensure a television-quality broadcast. In a WFH environment, organizations increasingly need to bring in multiple, remote speakers as part of their company-wide broadcasts. In this case, video conferencing end points are an excellent way to include multiple presenters in a webcast. Virtual meeting rooms, such as those provided by Zoom or Webex, also can become an informal video source for a live broadcast.

It is also important to ensure you have the right lighting. Even the best presentation can be derailed without the proper lighting. Your primary light source should be aimed at one side of the presenter, above their head, and not in their eyes. Light directed from above creates unwanted shadows.

It is also worth enlisting the help of experts. Some live streaming platform vendors provide an array of professional services to ensure customers meet their live streaming objectives. This can include fully managed live event support for everything from A/V, staging and delivery to designing your webcast event – from branding to template design to building the various ways for audiences to interact with presenters.

Most importantly, the success of your live stream is about ensuring your audience is receiving your message as clearly as possible.

Benefits of Live Streaming Platform

As we have all witnessed, a crisis can unfold at any time leaving organizations unprepared.

Effective communication is critical during a crisis. You need a plan to communicate with every single employee regardless of where your employees are located. Live streaming video helps senior leaders and communication professionals more effectively convey important information as soon as they can. This helps avoid rumors and misinformation from circulating. It also conveys a level of transparency–especially important in mergers and acquisitions, where employees often feel out of the loop.

Here are other benefits associated with acquiring a live streaming platform:

It Reduces Travel

Live streaming video lets leaders connect with remote teams without having to visit them or bring them together in a physical location.

It Unites Remotes Employees

Recent events have forced many workplaces to now operate in a remote environment. This has caused considerable challenges for many organizations who did not previously have any collaboration technology. Live streaming technology solves this challenge by providing a platform that unites remote employees and keeps them updated and informed, and ‘in the know.’

It’s Live

There is a magic to live streaming content that doesn’t happen with recorded video content. Consider a live breaking new story on TV. Would it be as impactful if it were pre-recorded? The same principle holds true in the workplace. When you stream live workplace information, employees recognize the importance and significance of this communication. Live streaming is more dynamic than an email message, or employee newsletter.

It Improves Corporate Alignment

Despite all the technology designed to improve communication in the workplace, many employees are still struggling to bridge the gap between corporate strategy and their day to day work. By live streaming CEO updates, communicators can help employees understand and connect to the organization's corporate strategy. And when employees understand how strategic goals impact their daily tasks, productivity improves.

It Gets Employees’ attention

Whether it is through email, a posted intranet message, or a digital sign, there are various ways to inform and educate employees. Unfortunately, most critical communications go unnoticed these days. And even if employees read an email from the CEO, they have little faith that the message was actually created by the CEO. Live streaming video is very different. When employees see their executive or leadership speaking live, they can observe eye and facial responses, which increases their engagement. Live streaming video captures interest in a much more dynamic way than other forms of communication.

Webcast Security

Live business broadcasts often include sensitive and proprietary information. This is why it is critical to ensure your live streaming platform contains multiple levels of webcast security, from authenticating viewers to ensuring that live stream URLs cannot be passed along to non-authenticated viewers.

The increase in live streaming video has given rise to challenges and questions pertaining to data protection and security. For example, should every employee have access to all content? How do you prevent illegal access? And what would happen if the wrong content were accessed by a competitor or the wrong outside individual?

If you are new to delivering corporate content via video, or if you are simply considering moving to video in the near future there are many live streaming security factors to consider.

Secure Video Data Hosting

Video content containing private and personal information must adhere to the highest data protection regulation as required by law. A dedicated live streaming platform should meet all regulatory security requirements.

Access Security/Authentication

Many organizations rely on a classic password-based login supplemented by single-sign-on systems or multifactor authentication that combines several processes with one another. Tools such as SAML (Security Assertion Mark-up Language) authenticate users by validating the user’s credentials against the organization's Active Directory or LDAP service.

User Rights

There are various rights and permissions a user may need. For example, just because an employee has access to view content, does not mean you want them to have editing rights too. Most companies organize permissions by automating it through Active Directory. This ensures users with the right role and group allocations to be automatically created, changed, or deleted in a role-based manner. This also means that a user’s permissions will follow them wherever they access that content – whether inside or outside the workplace.

SaaS Model

Live streaming platforms typically are offered as a SaaS model. SaaS platforms provide many advantages over older, on-premises deployments in the form of continuous software updating and the ability to leverage elastic and scalable cloud resources as needed. SaaS platforms can deliver video across internal networks via a variety of technologies and multiple network locations, as well as to mobile and external viewers via a cloud-based CDN.

Deployment Options

Dedicated live streaming platforms offer various types of cloud deployment options, integration with single sign on protocols, secure and encrypted video streaming, and support or split tunnel VPN architecture.

In a single tenant system, users are provided with their instance of the software. Single tenant users benefit from configurability, and robust security. It is a good solution for organizations that have strict security requirements or require specific customization.

Single tenant is useful for businesses that must satisfy industry and government security regulations.

Compliance

Organizations bound to regulatory requirements are often mandated to document transactions such when a video was published, who published it, and where it was published. Also, if a video has been deleted, there must be an accessible archive.

Today’s live streaming platforms carry a multitude of security features. However, only a dedicated live streaming platform centrally organize your content to help protected against threats.

When researching live streaming platforms, it is important to ask the right questions. For example, do the security settings apply to the user regardless of how or where they are accessing the content (i.e., if they login via a mobile device instead of their in-office laptop will the security settings move with them)? The bottom line is this: a dedicated enterprise video platform should provide complete security of both your content and network.

The Future of Video

The success of video-sharing social networks like TikTok and YouTube have revealed a lot about how younger generations consume content. Millennials along with Gen Z have shown us that with just a mobile device and the right platform, anyone can be a successful video content creator.

Today’s corporate content creators, whatever their age, are leveraging video to announce products and services, onboard new staff, and keep employees connected on critical information and news.

Expect Involvement from Many Departments

First-generation streaming platforms were often used primarily by marketing departments, who held the ‘keys’ to the equipment. As video technology continues to become more accessible, and easier to use, content can easily be created by all departments. This has also opened the door for employee-generated content which will not only increase employee engagement, but also lessen the burden on communications departments.

Organizations Will Play a Role in Reducing Costs

Organizations around the world have been forced to do more with less--particularly when it comes to communication.

Meanwhile, current events have forced us to reconsider large events we may have previously taken for granted. It also has allowed us to think strategically about how to continue such events on a smaller scale. For example, a CEO town hall still must go on, but does it really need to be an in-person event? Did it ever need to be an in-person event?

With no expenses related to conference venues, catering, travel, or hotel, organizations can reduce significant costs by live-streaming meetings instead.

Onboarding will improve

With a rapid shift to hiring remote-only workers, organizations will have no choice but to onboard staff through digital technologies. This will be a welcome relief for many who understood the challenges and costs with traditional employee training.

Video can convey content in a much more effective way, and often has the power to bring the dullest subjects to life. In just a few minutes, visual demonstrations or animations can convey far more than a whole day in a training room.

Using video technology in the workplace also allows you to deliver training content to users wherever and whenever they want. Remote workers can participate in training from the comfort of their homes or from shared office spaces, which of course is yet another way that helps businesses save even more money.

Modern video technology can also integrate easily with learning management systems, making it even more lucrative. Employees can easily comment, rate, and share learning and development content, while continuing to acquire and exchange additional knowledge over the LMS at their convenience.

Video for Remote Working is Here to Stay

In the current work-from-home environment, many organizations have turned to live video to maintain business continuity and to keep now remote workforces connected and reassured. Once the Covid-19 crises has abated, it’s likely that the new normal will at least be a hybrid of a limited or staggered number of employees returning to physical facilities and those who continue to work from home. Live streaming video use has accelerated rapidly during this time not just in the workplace, but in virtually every facet of our daily lives. With so many now, and many newly, experiencing the power of live video streaming to keep us connected while apart, our new normal will almost certainly continue to include live video streaming.

Live Streaming with an Enterprise Video Platform

Live Webcasting

Whether your live broadcasts are intended for internal communications or as a means to generate external demand, partner programs, and distribute public information, an enterprise video platform allows you to distribute custom-branded, dynamic, TV-like broadcast experiences without having to rely on tech support or costly managed service companies.

Attendees can be delivered to event lobbies based on distribution profiles and be presented fully interactive elements like polls and surveys. And of course, there are also options to assign administrator, presenter, and moderator roles, so as to ensure that content that is prepared and delivered is done so both effectively and efficiently.

And since live webcasts can cover a wide range of projects, from full-scale, multi-camera productions to simple webcam presentations, it’s important to select a platform that is flexible enough to accommodate it all.

On Demand Video

Live streaming is useful for critical live broadcasts, but what happens to that content after your presentation is over?

A robust enterprise video platform will provide a central destination where organizations can publish and manage all of their recorded video assets. Viewers can easily search through vast video libraries to quickly find the information they need, while admins can create and set viewer access and content governance policies.

Channels help organize information by topic or groups. Roles allow you to set varying permissions to users. And asset lifecycle settings allow you to set rules for where content should be saved and when it should be expired. Additionally, portal analytics let you understand, track, and report on content viewing trends.

On Demand Analytics

Video Delivery

There are many ways to ensure safe and efficient video content delivery. A good enterprise video platform will provide a network-agnostic approach that optimizes what you have, from edge caching devices to peering, multicast and CDN providers.

Video Analytics

Analytics can give unparalleled insights into the success of your enterprise video platform, from live events and network performance to VOD (video on demand) portal usage. Real-time dashboards let producers monitor viewers’ quality of experience, track audience sentiment, and provide IT teams actionable, up to the moment information about network QOS (Quality of service), rather than having to wait for support calls or anecdotal feedback post-event. Further, analytics are particularly useful for organizations that have strict compliance or regulatory requirements to adhere to.

Working from Home

The COVID-19 crisis has forced many CIOs to prioritize digital collaboration tools, including an enterprise video platform, that enables employees to work remotely. Enterprise video platforms are purpose-built to enable organizations to reach tens of thousands of at-home workers securely and efficiently using the tools they are most familiar with.

With many skilled producers unable to access their production equipment, a service provider can handle all aspects of your live streaming webcast remotely. Technology today has made it possible for speakers to access webcams and virtual meeting rooms (Zoom, Webex, Teams) as the source for a global live streaming webcast.

The availability of live webcasting technology has enabled corporate leaders to rapidly use live, secure and premium video broadcasts to enable more employees to work at home while maintaining continuity and connection as their organizations manage the evolving COVID-19 crisis. Interested in a live streaming or broadcasting solution for your company?

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