The jury is in. Online video is coming of age as a way to share information directly and efficiently with large audiences. According to Forrester Research, 85 percent of people would rather watch an online video about a company than read the company’s website.
Its appeal is both strong and broad. Online video watching “has matured to a mainstream
activity for consumers of all ages and geographies,” according to Accenture. “Overall, 90 percent of consumers globally now watch video content over the Internet, including movies, TV programs, videos on demand and more on some device.”
It’s therefore no surprise that executives see online video as an effective business communications tool. Whether they are viewing employee town hall meetings, participating in workplace training sessions or using online video to connect with prospects and customers, executives increasingly are using the technology to get their messages out to large, far-flung audiences. Six of 10 respondents in a Q4/2013 survey of more than 1,000 U.S. executives by Wainhouse Research said they watch live online video in business communications.
The Wainhouse Research survey, which was sponsored by Ustream, also found that 65 percent of C-level executives say online video is a “very effective” communications tool. Seventy-two percent said they prefer live online video to on-demand alternatives for use in business communications. These attitudes appear to be driven by the ability to adapt live online video to enhance communications activities already taking place in the enterprise.
Growing preference for live video
There are clear indications that executives’ preference for live video vs. on-demand video will grow in 2014 and beyond. While on-demand video in the corporate setting is a valuable and convenient source of employee-training information, corporate culture programs and other archived information, live video is well suited to senior executives who must communicate in real time about company performance, new initiatives and other timely topics.
The proliferation of technologies enabling more cost-effective live video webcasting appears to fit hand-in-glove with the traditional day-to-day demands of business executives, particularly those new to the idea of using online video to communicate with their various key audiences. In a corporate marketplace where the return on investment in technologies must always be justified, live video represents the streaming venue most likely to generate a tangible financial benefit. That’s because it can be implemented as a solution that expands the reach or reduces the expense of business-communications events already taking place. Consider the costs, for instance, of gathering national sales reps together in a single city to learn the details of a new product launch. The same information can be distributed in a live online video session, saving an organization thousands of dollars in travel costs and lost productivity time.
As might be expected, executives at organizations that deploy live online video the most report the strongest preference for this form. The Wainhouse Research survey found that at companies that produce more than 100 live video webcasts each year, 86 percent of respondents cite a preference for live. The preference drops to 63 percent of respondents at companies that do not use any live online video. As companies deploy the technology more extensively, executives appear to recognize the value that comes from regularly incorporating it into their business activities.
Communicating in person
The divergent opinions on live vs. on-demand appear to stem, in part, from the way executives conduct business today. Whether their meetings are large or small, most executives in the Wainhouse Research survey communicate with their colleagues in real-time settings. Four out of five executives, for instance, said they take part in small in-person meetings with fewer than 10 attendees. And one-quarter of the survey group said they attend in-person meetings with groups of 100 or more at least weekly.
As a result, live video in many ways represents an extension of existing day-to-day business activities. On-demand, in contrast, asks employees to adjust how they convey business information. Presentations are recorded ahead of time, with executives providing answers to commonly asked questions. Certainly, this approach to video can create valuable repositories of executive insight that can be accessed time and again. But it doesn’t mesh with the nature of instant information dissemination familiar to most executives.
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