I have been thinking a lot lately about what I could do for a new series of blog posts. It seems most Lync topics get covered very quickly by my fellow Lync MVPs out there. One area that hasn’t seen a lot of coverage is Video Content Management (VCM) solutions for Lync. Lync gives us this great ability to hold awesome collaborative experiences and includes features to allow us to record all aspects of the Lync meeting. However what happens to all of those recordings? How do you manage them? If you’re like most people they sit on PCs throughout the organization or end up getting crammed into some file server or SharePoint database. This is where VCM can be a game changer. We should probably start off this discussion with a level set on VCM. In this blog post I will discuss what it is and why it is becoming more important to organizations throughout the globe.
What is VCM and Why Should I Care?
If you had asked me 2 years ago what VCM is, I would have given you this weird look and tried to guess it had to do with archiving and storing video. I would have assumed that some organizations would need to do this for compliance purposes and probably changed the subject of the conversation. It just didn’t sound very exciting to me until someone at some point along the way related VCM to a YouTube experience for the enterprise. At that moment I realized there could be more to this. Imagine not only being able to take the experience of a Lync meeting and stream it live to thousands of users, but also capture that meeting, save it on a portal, index and tag it, and last but not least index the actual audio of the session. I won’t go into all of the technical possibilities and deep dive into how Polycom does VCM in this post (that’s coming in a follow-up post), however I will discuss some business applications. After all technology is supposed to fulfill business needs right? The first things that come to mind when someone says YouTube are entertaining, information, and last but not least, waste of time. How do you take a concept so innovative and transformative and turn it into a useful business tool. That is where VCM solutions come into play. I will discuss a couple of business applications but the possibilities are really limitless depending on the individual needs of an organization.
If your organization is like most, you are starting to see a very age diverse workforce. You have the older generation employees who have gained valuable knowledge while working in a given industry throughout their careers, the younger millennials who are just getting their feet wet, and everything in between. So what’s so special about the knowledge that the older generation possess? In a lot of industries (including Gas and Oil which I work with regularly), this generation has a level of knowledge on specific subjects that can only be gained over years of experience. This knowledge is not easily taught and transferred to others via traditional methods of manuals, books, and whitepapers. In many cases it’s knowledge that can only really be shared verbally and visually. In regards to financial impact of this knowledge. The decisions that these employees make can impact an organization by millions of dollars just on a single decision. So what happens when this older generation starts to leave the workforce and enjoy their retirement? Are you going to pay them mass sums of money to hold quarterly training courses to your teams? Are you going to beg them to come back work for you? I would propose VCM is one solution to this issue. By using Lync and and VCM, you can record collaborative sessions, save them, index them, make them viewable and searchable by virtually anyone that needs to gain the knowledge. You not only get the audio/video of the session but the content as well.
Another key area for VCM is training. A good VCM system not only provides the ability to record meeting audio/video/content for playback, but can also provide some Learning Management System (LMS) capabilities or better yet integrate with an existing LMS onsite. These systems allow organizations to track things like who took the training, did they watch the entire video, who passed the exam afterwards, and which content did users struggle the most to understand. Corporate training and LMS themselves are much deeper topics that are way out of the realm of my expertise but I think you get the idea. The key is that VCM is becoming a critical component to this area within an organization. Just as we see less travel for meetings, we are going to see less travel for corporate training as UC technologies make this possible.
Polycom VCM Solutions for Lync
One of the phrases I sometimes hear from customers is that “VCM is one of Polycom’s best kept secrets”. There is a good chance that before you read this, you had no idea Polycom has solutions in market today to provide VCM for Lync environments. In a series of new blog posts I’m going to walk through what those solutions are and some of the more technical aspects of how they can provide recording, streaming, and management for Lync meeting content. The primary product I will be discussing is Polycom’s RealPresence Media Manager solution which is the backbone of VCM. Media Manager provides the back-end (and front-end when not leveraging SharePoint) to VCM. It includes features such as live streaming, search, social video ranking, data retention management, online testing, approval workflows, and much more.