Martin Finlayson, Head of Visual Communications, avsnet

There’s no denying that video and YouTube is a great communications medium. It is well documented that we humans absorb more information faster and retain it more readily through our eyes than any other senses.

Video is a highly intuitive, pain-free way to absorb knowledge… so with all these benefits, why is video-based training not more pervasive in the workplace?

In my experience, there are four areas that are the main sticking points:

  1. Content creation
  2. Ease of access
  3. Content management
  4. Security

But before we look at each one of these in turn, let me tell you a story….

“Recently my son, for reasons only understood by teenagers, decided that his current inability to get past a certain point in a video game was in fact his laptop’s fault rather than any limitation in his own abilities. After metering out a suitable punishment to said device, he then rather sheepishly presented me with the broken remains while claiming no knowledge of how the screen had come to be broken, ho-hum…

I’ll spare you the parent mentoring part but the upshot was that I now had to get it fixed. Now, being a skinflint dictated that I wasn’t going to entertain the expense of paying someone else to do it. But that left me with a conundrum – how to pull apart this amorphous lump of plastic so I could replace the screen with a suitable replacement I’d found on a well-known online auction site.”

It is at this point that the title of this article becomes relevant. I went on YouTube, typed in the model number and “screen replacement”, and lo and behold, was presented with a veritable smorgasbord of videos in glorious Technicolor, all showing me in intricate detail how to disassemble the device, replace the screen and put it back together. In a matter of minutes the screen was in and working and not once had I had to pay a visit to the swear box.

So, what’s the point of all this unwarranted exposure to the delights of parenting teenagers? It’s simply this…

If it was so easy and intuitive for someone at home to train themselves to undertake a previously unknown and complex (OK, it wasn’t that complex) task successfully, why don’t we use the same process at work to train ourselves?

  1. Content Creation

The main problem is one of perception. When I discuss training videos with customers they invariably visualise a 60-90 minute production featuring an ex-Python member injecting some humour into an otherwise dull concept or process in a vain attempt to get it across to the viewer.

While this approach can be successful it is complete overkill for most subjects. Think back to my example above, all the videos were simple affairs with the presenter either wearing a head-cam or using their smartphone on a simple tripod. The presenter was just a disembodied voice off-camera and the video never lasted longer than five minutes, perfect!

While not perfect for every subject the point here is to keep it simple and short (unlike this article), bite-size nuggets of information are the key.

  1. Ease of Use

It’s no use recording all this content if it is difficult for the user to find, or worse still if it won’t play on their chosen device. A simple, clean and easy to understand user interface is critical. Meta-tagging allows content to have search words or phrases associated with it to make it easy for someone to find at a later date.

Likewise, the development and adoption of HTML5 makes it much simpler to support a wide range of devices for playback.

  1. Content Management

This broadly falls into two categories, delivery and version control. If your video-on-demand (VoD) solution is simply a shared network file store then you are creating a world of hurt for yourself.

Even though the videos are stored as files they need to be delivered as streams. This makes delivery more reliable but perhaps more importantly it means you don’t end up with multiple copies of the same file all over your network.

Remember, video files can be large. With a proper streaming platform, version control becomes much simpler as you only have one centralised version of a video to update each time.

  1. Security

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is security. While changing a screen on a laptop may not be considered sensitive corporate data, explaining to your staff how a detailed process or technology works in your organisation most certainly will be.

It is for this reason that YouTube falls at the final hurdle for most organisations. Up until now everything we have discussed could be accomplished for free just by using YouTube if you wanted to.

But worry not, there are plenty of solutions out there that can provide all the features and benefits of YouTube along with many enhancements that make video usage possible and desirable for your organisation; LDAP authentication and edge caching to name but two.
So, in summary then video is the perfect medium for a whole host of applications in an organisation. It is simple to deploy and can be integrated with other training platforms to enhance any professional development programs that you want to run. The potential benefits are huge and the costs are lower than you think – just don’t tell my son, he still thinks I had to send his laptop away at vast expense to have it fixed… 😉

Want to explore how video content management can help in your business? Get in touch.

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