The New Reality for Customer Engagement
Key #2: Get a Handle on the Technology
CIOs can cobble together versions of low-cost tools for video and other media, and most are already experienced in dealing with issues of bandwidth and storage. These are not, for the most part, huge problemsthat's the enabling factor behind the shift in the first place. That said, the new-media model is still evolving in terms of turn-key solutions for large companies.
"Workers are starting wikis and podcasts, using software [to power those things] that has no home in the enterprise," says PodShow's Bloom. "They are going around the IT department " at some companies. But not for long. Bloom expects large tech firms to lead the way in creating their own "enterprise-stable stack" that combines wikis, blogs and audio/visual tools, and to turn to third parties to help understand the content side of the equation. "What's missing so far is the group that can walk into a company and say, 'here's the combination of platform and content,'" he adds.
Ryan Montoya is an Internet strategist for the John Edwards presidential campaign, which runs a sophisticated multimedia Web site. In a short period he's seen his job get simpler, at least on the technology side. "You can do for $50 what used to cost a fortune," he says. "We have a distribution network that is efficient and cost effective to get our message out. At first we used a laptop with free Audacity editing software and a couple of mikes to create podcasts, but now we've graduated to a little Marantz digital recorder that cost maybe $500 and provides superior quality. It's not rocket science."
In 2005, Montoya used a video camera to make the first Web clips for Edwards' One America Committee political action group, handing the tape off to an editor for coding and uploading. These days, he's graduated to a digital video camera, and uses a variety of free editing software found via the Web. "The logistical problem is solved," he says.
Starting small and feeling the way forward worked for Colgate University, which began by using students to write blogs, first with Google's free Blogger software, and more recently with the TypePad application from vendor Six Apart. "We did not begin with something terribly sophisticated," says Melichar. "The threshold to give it a try was so low that it just made sense to do it. With video, it was a similar thing." At first, Colgate's video was handled as part of the routine Web operation, but success led the university to work with Onstream Media Corp., the Web-services firm that specializes in supporting the delivery of rich-media content, as it prepares to launch a new Web site in February. "We have invested a lot in putting video on the site, and we need to make sure it's available," says Melichar. Production is driven by a single Web-content person, who works with a team of students to shoot and edit material.
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