Friday, June 17, 2011

Why hosting enterprise-level videos on YouTube is not a good idea

Last week, OSISoft sent their customers an e-mail pitching their new OSISoft Learning Channel on YouTube. Since they probably knew that many enterprise firewalls block YouTube, their communication pleaded that we should politely ask IT to authorize YouTube. They also put a reference to Buck Bard's blog post Don't be anti-social on social networking where he basically says that internal collaboration sites don't measure up to public ones like YouTube.

He's right on the social networking argument -- the corporate or "private club"-type social networking sites I've seen aren't so great when compared to the behemoths who've been able to get a foothold in the last five years. But isn't that what vCampus is, in essence? To benefit from its social networking features, one has to be a (paying) vCampus user. Maybe OSISoft could consider opening up parts of vCampus?

The problem which OSISoft acknowledged in their e-mail is that most social networking sites are blocked to many corporate users. Facebook is one thing, but I'll concentrate on YouTube in this post.

To illustrate this, let's compare YouTube to a television: if I came into the office of the CIO and asked for every cubicule in the office to have a cable TV set with every channel offered by the cable company, what would be his answer, you think? Even if all this came for free, I bet it would be "no". The reasoning being that nobody actually needs this, and it's a perfect way to lower productivity. Now if I came and asked for TV sets which only had access to all-news networks because the employees are financial analysts who actually need this to do their job, it might work.

The problem with YouTube is exactly that: it's a TV with millions of channels and there is no way to filter out content that is relevant to your workplace. Yet even though we have places where YouTube is barren due to questionable content, and rightly so, there are tech companies who keep on using it to publish their stuff. OSISoft are not the only ones, by the way -- ArcSight did the same thing two years ago.

What are the solutions?

The first one is not using YouTube at all to publish content. Which is too bad as YouTube is a really good platform to publish videos easily and cheaply. OSISoft probably doesn't want to invest thousands of dollars into a private streaming solution (and bandwidth), which is understandable, but they cut themselves out from some of their customers by choosing this path.

The second one would be for YouTube to make an "enterprise-level" version of their service, under a completely different name and domain, and charge a small fee to qualifying content publishers. Someone thought of this in 2007 and I have not seen a solution yet. The problem with this scenario is that over time, it will become another all-you-can-eat lineup. Victoria's Secret would probably end up calling themselves "enterprise-level", and I don't see where their videos would fit in a financial analyst's job.

So that's it. OSISoft's Learning Channel is on YouTube. Don't get me wrong -- I checked them out, and this initiative is very appreciated!! But since my employer doesn't let me watch YouTube, I'm stuck with watching these videos on my own time, at home or at the internet café.

Time to go grab a Latte.



Buck Bard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Buck Bard said...

Oliver - Thanks for the post. You hit the real nail on the head in one regard - you have to weigh the pros and cons of any program. We spent a great deal of time on this, and the one thing that became crystal clear to us is that the power and money behind YouTube would always offer features that neither we nor any of our customers could on a video portal. It’s simply hands down the best vehicle in so many ways.
But I will disagree with your analogy to a degree. I think better analogy would be email or web access. When those came into being virtually no companies offered those technologies (or internal only) citing the lack of business value or distraction factor – your same argument for TVs. Heck, I could even go back to when companies said few people needed computers on their desks.
All new technologies are resisted, and most find their way into our work lives because there is value. YouTube, Twitter, and other social media vehicles are fast penetrating even the most staid companies not because they are fun or a good distraction, but because they are delivering some value.
And I think at some point you have to trust your people. Almost every white collar worker has web access in their office, in essence giving them a TV in their office. But I have found 99% of people I work with are conscientious and do their jobs, instead of parking it on Hulu all day.

Buck Bard