Enterprise YouTube - What the Heck Is It?

March 28, 2012 | Brendan Cournoyer
Enterprise YouTube - What the Heck Is It?

Ever since YouTube began its march toward becoming one of the most popular search engines on the planet, companies have been looking for ways to harness its power for business purposes.

Enter the term “YouTube for the Enterprise.”

But while this is hardly a new concept, if you look online, there’s not a tremendous amount of info on what it actually means. So I thought I’d take a crack at breaking it down as simply as possible.

First, what YouTube for the Enterprise IS

What this generally refers to is the idea of using video content for corporate communications. It’s not about video marketing. Mostly, it involves businesses looking to use on-demand video for training purposes and to keep their work force (particularly remote and mobile employees) better connected.

More importantly, what it ISN’T

What’s misleading about the phrase “YouTube for the Enterprise” is that, in most cases, it doesn’t specifically involve YouTube at all. Instead, it’s more about leveraging YouTube concepts for collaborative communications and on-demand learning through video. For example, as Gartner reports, enterprises are intrigued by the possibilities of sharing video content with services that mimic sites like YouTube and Facebook.

In other words, providing a platform where employees and company leaders can easily create and upload video content to be shared internally sounds, you know, cool. Videos can also be shared with partners, clients and prospects, of course, but not shared publicly unless there is some specific need.

Why it’s not really about YouTube

While YouTube is super easy, it’s also super public, and most companies don’t want their internal communications out there for the whole world to see. While you can make YouTube videos private if you’d like, it comes with a host of limitations. Most notably, private YouTube videos can be shared with no more than 50 YouTube users, and those videos do not appear on channel pages, making the organization of lots of videos a challenge.

As a result, many companies have begun looking for ways to securely create and share private video content in a way that’s similar to YouTube, without actually being YouTube. Some larger companies develop these portals themselves (IBM, for example, has its own “BlueTube” channel for internal video content). Others use third-party services or solutions, ideally cloud-based platforms that won’t clog up their corporate networks and storage with a bunch of locally-hosted video presentations. Google itself also offers some private video functionality as part of the Premier Edition of its Google Apps platform.

Brainshark, obviously, is an option for many companies, as they can use it to easily create video content across the company, house it in a private web portal and share and track across their organization. And of course, they still have the option of uploading those presentations as public YouTube videos if they want to.

What’s happening now?

A lot of companies are seriously looking at new ways to improve their corporate strategies, and on-demand video content has become a hot commodity. As Paul Miller, founder of the Intranet Benchmarking Forum, told GigaOM last year, “YouTube shows that videos capture interest and attention that words simple can’t… [it’s] always popular because it’s dynamic and fresh.” He adds that in a few years, he expects YouTube for the enterprise to become an even more established form of corporate communications.

Of course, there are still challenges, as businesses become more familiar with creating video content and training others throughout the company to easily do the same. This is where new technology has really helped, as the costs and skill required to create online video content is easier now than ever.

Cloud-based solutions remove most of the storage management issues for IT admins in regards to hosting a lot of video content. Couple that with the fact that the industry in general has become much more comfortable with cloud computing over the past couple of years, and there certainly seems to be a recipe for more enterprise video communications going forward.

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