Analytics is the new ‘black’.

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There was a news report in a prominent financial daily the other day on the growing demand for ‘data scientists’ across industries. ‘Data scientist’ was not even a term a few years ago, let alone a job profile in much demand! The explosion of available information and the volumes of data collected from various sources has opened a completely new area of computing.‘Big Data’ has been the flavor of the season for a while now, but using data analytics for decision-making has been around for a while. The ubiquity of analysis tools and frameworks has made it imperative for almost all professions to pay attention, analyze and draw insights from the data that is being collected by their systems and applications.

One of the key challenges intersecting this growing data is the exponential growth in online multimedia content. Recent trends in the rich-media space have seen content go beyond videos. Videos are moving from one-way entertainment to an interactive medium of communication, promotion and learning. And, they involve significant amount of content. Content is data. And data can be analyzed! You are no longer limited to publishing a monolithic video with a simple counter for the number of views it gathers. Today’s advanced multimedia delivery platforms collect insightful data for your video content and its viewership – what are the most popular search terms used to find your video, which are the most popular bookmarks accessed by your viewers, where are your viewers coming from and how long are they staying, which sections of your video are most popular, how many people are successfully able to answer the pop-quizzes in your interactive video. Data, data and even more data! Useful data that can be analyzed to fine-tune your video content to make it more effective and targeted. Any video-delivery solution worth its salt has to have analytics functionality that dives deep into this data and brings these insights to the fore. You shouldn’t have to hire a data scientist to analyze this!

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

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U2, Joshua Tree

I bet you all have heard it and were a little perturbed when you did. Some months back, I was over for breakfast at a friends’ home. My friend told her pre-teen daughter in their sunny kitchen that Sunday morning that she should just “Google” the question that was bothering her so early in the day. My initial reaction was to chide my friend about her ignorance. But then I didn’t know the answer to the child’s question either! So I pondered questions and answers as I waited for my breakfast.

Two things jumped out.

Firstly, people who traditionally had answers for our questions, parents, teachers in schools or university and trainers at the workplace don’t have them ALL anymore. They hopefully know WHERE you could get your answers rather than GIVE you a specific answer. And it’s not their fault either. Our need for specific information is so vast and varied that it is almost impossible to have it all in one’s head. Or anyone else’s head for that matter. The ability to search and find information has become critical. I just googled “How to use honey in your shelf that got crystallized”. (You have to warm it. Not add water and dissolve it as I originally imagined. The glucose monohydrate with heat will assume a liquid form temporarily.) No one could tell me. Fifteen minutes my employer will never get back.

Secondly, the thing that scares and bothers one about information from “out there” is its source. Did some kid in Tunisia bored out of his mind recommend that crystallized honey could be mildly microwaved? (My answer was cross checked with the infallible logic that “…so many food websites couldn’t all be wrong!”). This will always be a problem. The World Wide Web has many contributors and we can’t vouch for them all.

So buyer beware. And perhaps it was the best thing my friend was doing by getting her young daughter to come to grips with this new reality of learning.

What you really want to know when a video is watched

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Recently I got interested in understanding what is going on with video content on the Internet. Any statistics you look at will tell you that video content is on the rise. Here are some numbers from 2012 http://www.magnetvideo.com/content/101+online+video+statistics+for+2012/26169 that should encourage anyone thinking of using videos.

Some numbers that caught my eye are – 52% marketers say they are using videos in email marketing and that there is a higher percentage of folks who watch a combination of user generated content (UGC) and studio-produced marketing videos. Higher video content quality would pull in another 30% viewers and flexibility of watching from anywhere would bring in another 26%. It is clear that video content is here to stay and, grow. As with any other content, creators of the content want to know who is viewing and what are they doing with the content.

Let’s take a closer look at UGC video content which can be further divided into consumer vs enterprise.

Consumer UGC is created using readily available equipment such as webcams. A cat playing the piano or the ireport on CNN fall into this category. This content is typically created and posted on a public site such as YouTube without any thought of monetization though sometimes high viewership can result in monetization.

Enterprise UGC is generated with a business purpose such as conveying a story about the company, its people, its products and services, how to fix them, etc. Enterprise content tends to be multifaceted with one or more of slides, screenshots, videos, speaker videos, whiteboards, etc.

Since monetization is typically not the purpose f or consumer content, number of views adequately represents the value to viewers. For example, if you had greater than about 2-3 thousand viewers for your content, you could become a YouTube partner and get paid by them for the ads they inject in your content.

For enterprise content, one needs to know more about what is happening with the content. The main parameters that are typically tracked – who, from where, how, how many. Let me elaborate – we want to know who is watching it (does the viewer match our target customer profile?), from which part of the world are they coming (is that the target geography?), how did they arrive at our content (search?, email?, social media?), how many users view the content per day, month, year, etc.

What is missing from this is – what are the viewers looking at? Did they jump around? Did they linger somewhere? Did they interact with the content? Did they search for something specific?

kPoint addresses these questions in its analytics.

Using multiple streams to get rid of camera/mic shyness.

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The whole idea behind kPoint is to give the viewer of a kapsule an experience pretty much the same as that of being there live! This is the reason why kPoint puts so much power into the hands of the kapsule creator – in addition to her own audio and video, she can use a presentation, share any application from the desktop, or play another video. The additional streams need to be used by the author effectively to create that being-there-in-person experience for the viewer.

There is one gotcha however, for most people while creating a kapsule. They become camera shy, and even if the video is not used, they become mic shy! We want to help all such users get rid of this shyness. So, here are a couple of tips.

When you talk to your viewers in person, you share-all-of-yourself subconsciously while delivering your “message”. You make sure that the viewers are focused on what you are showing them. While doing this there may be an occasional missed pronunciation, that odd word you stutter on, or a sentence that you repeat. No one minds it. When you are live, you are focused on delivering the “message”, showing them what you have, and your viewers are there to see it. Neither of you is focused on anything else. That’s what makes being-there-in-person experience so effective.

So, if you wish to create an effective kapsule, focus on the “message” and share-all-of-yourself with the kPoint camera. Do not mind the missed word, an occasional umm… etc. Help the viewer focus on what you wish to show them from one of the many streams kPoint supports. This will take the pressure off you and are sure to come out with a kapsule that you like.

And yes, please do not “script” what you wish to say. Just keep the bullet points with you in the presentation and let it flow. You as well as your viewers will like it that way since it will come out so naturally.

Here is a something I found by Matthew Loop that elaborates on these points and provides you some more tips. Have fun with kPoint!

Matthew Loop on “How to stop camera shyness”.

“Can you please share your screen?”

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I recently attended a lecture by Prof. Lu of USC at NASSCOM Engineering Summit* where he talked about how engineers are oversupplying technology to 1% of population. Engineers keep on adding features at the risk of losing the simplicity of a product. The differentiation is added in a dimension where it hardly matters. Over the period, the technology companies keep supplying more and more technology. It was a fresh perspective on engineering.
Something similar is happening in the web conference space. Every two months there is a new product added which claims to be a differentiated product.

Let’s take the 2 cases of conference calls viz. planned and unplanned. In a planned meeting, people join the web-conference and most of them use teleconference to reduce bandwidth requirement. Hardly anyone turns the camera on. The coordinator passes control to the presenter and the screens are shared. People discuss updates, problems and the coordinator takes notes and circulates the action items after the meeting.

In an unplanned meeting like a support call, you get on a call. Now you suddenly realize that it would have been nice if all of you were seeing the same screen.

In both the scenarios, for the meetings, you essentially need to share the screen. You need all the “good to have” features if you are conducting a webinar or training. Now if you need to share just the screens, why should you pay lots of $s? Secondly why do want the viewers to go through the hassle of installation just for sharing the screen? Why can’t they use browsers?

So here is a new product and only point of differentiation is that is simple, free, and works well with mobile devices. Just go to skreen.me** using your browser. Share your screen and allow your colleagues to view it from any device. No apps, no installs, no sign ups, no JAVA. It is fast, simple and FREE. Now you can start saving $s spent on so called web conferences which are actually screen sharing sessions.

**http://skreen.me is powered by kPoint and incubated by GS Lab.


Promote your idea with kPoint!

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How often have you had a great idea that you wanted to share with the rest of the world, but did not have the right medium to easily do so? In a world where everyone is clamoring for their 15-seconds of fame on numerous video sharing platforms, wouldn’t it be wonderful to stand apart from the crowd and deliver your pitch in an elegant and refined manner?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could present your idea using the natural ways we all communicate – speech, video, documents, slides, images and free-form white-boarding all put together.

kPoint is a solution that allows you to do all of this, and more. kPoint is beyond videos. Entire presentations can be captured and shared as ‘kapsule’ – a mash-up of the presenter’s video and the content.

From simple videos that present an idea, to complex technical presentations that need desktop-sharing and whiteboard for architecture diagrams and free-form content.

kPoint provides an elegant way to weave together multiple content sources and present them in unique, searchable way. With easy navigation across slide thumbnails and deep content search within the mash-up, kPoint kapsules provide an engaging viewer experience. It doesn’t stop at being just another cool mash-up tool. kPoint gives you detailed insights into how the audience is reacting to your idea – using objective analytics as well as subjective viewer comments, questions and feedback.

kPoint overcomes the limitations of online video sharing platforms (no content, only video) as well as online slide-sharing solutions (only content, no context). Automatically creating a mash-up from your everyday presentations and interactions, kPoint kapsules will not leave your audience wondering about either the content or the context!

Promoting your ideas to your audience has never been easier. Go ahead, signup for kPoint and create your own kapsule now to experience the power of this solution!

Will they come if I publish it?

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“Let us give them something to talk about” crooned Bonnie Raitt. But what exactly in a corporate setting?It is a lot easier to write or publish articles on topics that one is familiar with. Then hope that people are interested. This does not always work. Of course, we have assumed that getting your article or blog read is what is most important you and not serving your audience! An obviously bad assumption.

In my own twisted way, all I am saying is that publishing relevant content is good for everyone. Your stuff will get read or watched, people will have critical issues discussed and get a better understanding about them and in general, useful information will be disseminated. So as a purveyor of wisdom and unsolicited assistance to your fellow creatures here are a few categories that may be a clue to topics that are of interest to an organization.

First, “How to get ahead”. The lunch line or technical prowess at HTML5. Provide information that will differentiate your audience’s use of a technology or understand the latest mystical code snippet floating out of a line editor console of a geek in Hungary.

Second, “How not to screw up, big time.” Pitfalls and traps that litter the way of your fellow employees. Careers on the line, devious code check-ins that mess up release schedules and leave you polishing your resume, the hazards of a oh-so-clever workaround. Spew out your warnings and prophecies for all and sundry.

Third, “Warm and fuzzy and kills time ever so sweetly”. Feel good stuff. That video of the kitten swiping at the string. The audience shot with the Exec bench snoozing. Babies gurgling and adoring grannies. While it is pooh poohed, this really is the glue that will keep your organization communicating and using online tools to stay in touch through good times and bad.

So go on publishing that …. stuff. Keep lines of communication open, no matter what the platform or technology, is critical to your organization’s health. And relevant topics will ensure that.

YouTube videos are suffering from LSIC syndrome.

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There are three distinct pieces of information and I am trying to make sense out of them. First, training industry says organizations are moving to more user generated content (UGC). More UGC means more uncontrolled content and someone has to find gems out of lot of average stuff. As a consumer, this is what we do on YouTube. Forget average, there is often a lot of garbage.

It is not a problem with YouTube but with the free world where people can put anything up so long it is not offensive. Second, I see more and more corporates promoting themselves using YouTube. On YouTube, you have to make an extra effort to be seen. Third, and lastly, I see TED talks. Most of the content is cool, neat and interesting. But there is lot of preparation and filtration that has gone behind it to make this happen. This does not gel well with the UGC philosophy where you want to encourage everyone to contribute.

What should corporates do? Should they take YouTube route for their internal “know how” and product promotion or take TED approach? Or is there is something that lets you bridge the gap. Both these systems suffer with “LSIC” syndrome. If we work on this syndrome, we may not need to worry about some of the issues discussed above. LSIC stands for “lack of search inside the content”. These systems play only plain videos which means your search will return the results based on the information on the webpages and not based on the actual content. You also have to see the whole video to be sure that the stuff is relevant to your needs which would mean lot of waste of time.

Imagine a platform similar to YouTube. This platform has a front end which allows you to create quick multimedia mash ups. Everything you use in textual information is automatically searchable. Your content does not suffer from LSIC. This will also mean more inclusive UGC growth. At the same time, experience of content consumption would improve. But is it a dream or a reality? With kPoint it is a reality.