IBM Embraces Web Video As A Vital Internal Communication Tool

IBM Embraces Web Video As A Vital Internal Communication Tool

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Here at ReelSEO, we’re interested in pretty much anything to do with video:  video production, video equipment, video marketing, or even video conversion rates for e-commerce.  We’re kind of obsessed with video.  And it seems like maybe IBM is starting to get obsessed with video too.

Today IBM released some pretty interesting case study data regarding their use of video for business purposes, and it’s compelling stuff, so I wanted to share.  The case study can be found over at vzaar, which is the primary platform IBM uses for their video.

The entire thing begins with a great quote from Mark Leaser, who is the Worldwide Offerings Manager for IBM Software Services for Lotus—which is the specific division of IBM that is profiled in the case study:

“No more long, cumbersome marketing documents – no more boring presentations. Video is how companies and business should communicate.  You can do it yourself and save thousands of dollars.”

That’s a pretty positive quote.  It’s like a big bear hug from IBM to video.  We’re not talking about viral video commercials on YouTube—which I’m sure they do at IBM on some level—but instead, we’re talking about replacing old-school business practices and formats with video.

Leaser’s division is employing video for everything from internal training and staff meetings to screen capture and external marketing.  They’ve standardized the video production process throughout the department, so producing a video becomes very similar to producing a Word document—there are certain repeatable steps that they perform every time, regardless of the specific video’s goals.

The case study itself outlines a few reasons why Leaser is so bullish on the format; here were my takeaways:

Video Is More Engaging/Impactful/Memorable

Says Leaser:

“We use video as a means of attracting interest in something that we are doing,” says Mark Leaser. “The video segments have to be more than a commercial – we have to offer content with value, information of how our solutions will help our customer’s business, and tips for using particular solutions.”

IBM thinks video makes more of an impact than a Word document, and there are probably hundreds of scientific studies out there that support this logic.  While the written word will always have its place in the business world, video is simply more robust.  Imagine turning on the evening news and seeing screenshots of the evening newspaper articles… you’d be pretty bored.  Video has the power to engage and tell stories—to communicate—in ways that words alone cannot.

Video Is No Longer Expensive

IBM is using both internal and outsourced video production services for video creation, and it seems to be the best of both worlds.  They use vendors to help create customer case study videos—which essentially end up serving as commercials—but create the majority of the rest of their videos in-house.  These include videos like ones shot at trade shows and other similar events, where an IBM expert is interviewed.

Mark Leaser again:

“Rather than hiring an outsider who charges $10K to $15K to produce a video, we can do it ourselves, single camera, for a small fraction of the price, and it is just as effective. Over a year, we can save hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

And on the same topic:

“Authoring video in house works for us. Our current generation IT decision makers understand the video language and often don’t have the patience to wade through a white paper or technical presentation. To properly reach them, information needs to be presented in a lively, colorful and high-energy mode that can only be conveyed via video.”

That’s an interesting addendum to our recent discussion/debate over self-producing versus hiring a professional—though it’s worth pointing out that IBM is one of the largest corporations in the world, and their choice to self-produce is not entirely the same thing as a small or medium business going the in-house route.  He’s also speaking mostly about video that has internal purposes as opposed to television commercials—the case study says the vast majority of video Leaser’s division creates is intended for internal audiences.

They use Quicktime formats for capture, and Macs running Final Cut Studio for editing—employing h.264 and DVKitchen for compression and distribution.

Numerous Hosting And Distribution Options

When the videos are complete, Leaser’s group uses a mix of company intranet and the Internet for dissemination.  They use the vzaar platform a great deal, because he likes “power and features of their video player,” but they also use YouTube or even IBM-owned servers.  The end result is that Leaser feels he has a readily available—and easy-to-use—hosting solution for any and all content his division produces, giving him maximum flexibility.

In Conclusion

There are as many as 50 of Leaser’s colleagues using video in much the same way he is.  That’s a pretty small number compared to IBM as a whole, but it’s still pretty progressive when you look at the rest of the business world.  Leaser leaves the reader with his own advice for companies considering embracing video:

1. You have to use the video

The impact from video cannot be overstated, according to Leaser, but you have to actually put the videos you create to use for your company and employees.  He also feels that audiences have come to expect video, and that businesses need to adapt to conform to that expectation, even when the “audience” is comprised of your own employees.

2. Learn how to do it yourself

Leaser feels the technology has gotten better while also getting cheaper, putting businesses on a mostly-level playing field with professional video production houses, at least for internal video.  For commercial spots or viral videos, the company still uses a lot of professional firms.  But one of the main thrusts of this case study is the use of video for internal business processes—to replace Word documents or PDFs or slide show presentations.

3. Video is easier than people think

There is power in using video for business communications, and Leaser feels like video is still somewhat mystifying to the general public.  But it’s easier than ever to push a button and record HD video.  There are several quality video editing tools that are largely cut-and-paste.

Most of us were already sold on the fact that video is more impactful than other forms of content.  But how many of us have taken that thinking and applied it internally… to our own business communications?  It’s tempting to think of “video” as something that refers only to marketing materials.  But this case study proves otherwise—businesses can, and maybe should, embrace video as a tool for dealing with employees, coworkers, customers, and vendors.


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