Archive for December, 2007

New Podcast – Interview with Ken Liu of Mindtouch

I had an opportunity do a Podcast with Ken Lie the CEO of Mindtouch, a Southern California company. I saw Mindtouch while attending the Blogworld and New Media conference in Las Vegas last month and thought they have an interesting product and story. They are taking the concept of a Wiki to a new level and giving it a lot more capability that the average company can benefit.

I also discovered that they are just about ready to go after a Series A, $5M round of financing. So for you investors who are interested in investing in the new media tools as they move into business, give Mindtouch a look and a listen.

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High Definition Video

The reason I am not recommending going out and spending the extra money for a High Definition Camcorder is that most people don’t have sufficient bandwidth to accommodate the file sizes that are created with high definition. A lot of applications download before playing and it can take a very long time to download a 15 to 20 high def video.

Let me give an example, NBC started a new service that I came across yesterday called NBC Direct. They have their own player and you can download copies of some current TV shows after their initial airing. So, I downloaded the player and was in the process of downloading the most recent Bionic Woman when I noticed that the file is 290MB and would take well over an hour to download through my limited DSL connection. Since the service is based on your only having access to the video for 48 hours once you start to view it, I decided to watch it streaming.

Once there is an reasonably footprint of high speed (6MBS minimum) access we need to try and keep the files as small as possible. Video should be a net add to your communication plan not another reason for customers to be frustrated.

Video Applications – Spur Some Thoughts?

It used to be that if you wanted to use video as part of your business communications plan you had to put a big chunk of budget aside. When I was with a very large company, I remember it costing about $5K per minute production costs. So, a 10 minute video, minimum of $50K. Not something that most small businesses would consider in their realm of possibility.

Fast forward to today and all the new media applications focused on producing and delivering video and costs are minimal. First, you don’t need to buy a $20K camera or rent one with an operator. A simple Hard Drive Camcorder can be bought for under $500. I understand that you can get a High Definition Camcorder for under $1K, but as much as hard technologies have dropped in price, bandwidth hasn’t necessarily kept up. More on that later.

What about all the sophisticated video editing equipment, again not a requirement. There are a number of video editors available for less than $500, and you own it versus paying for it each time you need to edit. Also, applications like YouTube have lowered the expectations for perfect video.

One thing that kept me from working with video was how difficult editing was and how much equipment was needed. I had experienced video on a project a number of years ago and was not looking forward to getting into it again. My breakthrough came in talking with Robert Scoble at a conference late last year. Robert is pretty much the de facto king of video blogging and really doesn’t do a lot of editing. He has a story where on one of his first videos at Microsoft, he leaned back in a chair and went head-over-heels. He just decided to leave it in. I can live with that.

So, what about storing, showing, and delivering? Enter YouTube and others; anyone can upload their videos, store them and point your customers to your videos. The price, $0. So, for under a $1K, about what 20 seconds of production 15 years ago, you can have everything you need to create and use videos.

OK, so what are some applications? Well, first you need to think about all the elements of your business where you need to communicate with customers or potential customers. Let’s see, clearly sales, and lots of customer support, and what about customer training and education?

What about supplementing your paper brochures with on-line versions that include video clips to show things that are very difficult to explain? How about putting clips of your team doing presentations at industry conferences or tradeshows that show your thought leadership? How about interviews with customers talking about how your products or services helped their businesses.

How about instead of tires old FAQ’s, you put up video FAQ’s where key staff answer questions and given their explanation of an answer? Or, how about putting up short video training clips to educate your customers?

I think that if you spend some time and open up your mind to the possibilities, you will find lots of areas where video can supercharge you business and customer conversations. Spend some time on YouTube and see how others are using video.

Video – Some Interesting Statistics

I was just looking over a new site that I found as a result of attending Blogworld earlier this month, Website Magazine, and came across an interesting post by Mike Phillips. He sites some figures released by comScore about how US viewers viewed 9.2 billion, that’s BILLION, videos in the month of September. 75% of US Internet users were viewers, which equated to 136 unique viewers!

He also mentions how every Web business should video; I would like to go further and recommend that every business with a website should consider how they can use video to get their messages across and communicate with customers. One of the things I heard a lot at Blogworld was that video is the next killer application.

I think I need to do a couple of posts on how businesses are using video in their businesses. Maybe it will provide some “Aha Insight”.


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