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Why Videography is Important to Cisco IT


May 13, 2015 - 2 Comments

I am a videographer in Cisco IT. Often when I introduce myself, people are either intrigued or utterly confused. Cisco is full of software and hardware engineers, IT architects, IP telephony wizards, and sales account managers galore. Where does videography fit in?

Within IT, I am alone in my craft. I joined Cisco 4 years ago as an IT project manager for our e-commerce platform, Cisco Commerce. I created videos (for fun) shown at quarterly IT meetings to illustrate new ideas, emphasize company culture, or introduce new perspectives. These videos were popular amongst my colleagues and leadership team, and eventually a role was carved out within IT (the Cisco on Cisco group) for a videographer. Videography, whether it is for a wedding, corporate event, commercial, or documentary film, is all about telling a visual story. Cisco IT has tons of stories to share, and Cisco on Cisco is responsible for sharing those IT experiences mostly through written case studies and other documents as well as in person (physically or virtually) during meetings with customers. My role is to showcase and highlight these stories through online video. This is not a common position within tech companies large or small. However, given the power of video, this role has proven to be very important and impactful.

Cisco is a huge fan of video overall, as you may have read in Rich Gore’s blog, Video is the new audio at Cisco. We use video as a collaboration tool through TelePresence, video-enabled Unified IP phones, and mobile video, and as a means of mass communication through our broadcast studio called Cisco TV, independent web series such as Techwise TV, and streaming live events such as Cisco Live. We want to be a fast IT organization and get our content and stories out in a timely fashion, which often calls for us to produce videos on our own. The larger Cisco studios produce high-quality professional video but often at higher costs and longer time frames. So, we turn to independent internal filmmakers who can create great video content, move it through the proper review cycles, and publish it quickly. More than 200 videos are uploaded to the Cisco YouTube channel each month. Last year as a company we uploaded 2,552 videos (I was behind about 20 of those).

Videos have become much easier to develop from script to screen. Advances and accessibility in camera technology and video editing software have given those with no film school or video production experience the tools to create stunning cinematography. To create a video at Cisco, we don’t even have to own a camera or employ a video editor. Anyone can record a self -view video with our TelePresence endpoints, which will process the video in a cloud server, offer the ability to trim or enhance the video, add a title bar and Cisco logo, and email the finished product to the desired audience. The process for creating videos has been automated for the working professional.

We all hear about how the Internet of Everything is upon us, and that soon (in the year 2020 approximately) more than 50 billion Internet-capable devices will be connected to the network. I myself have 4 different devices (phone, tablet, computer, and TV) for watching online video content. We often consider the device when creating video. How will our audience view it? Whether they choose to watch the video on a mobile device, their home computer, or on a conference room projector, I need to make sure that text will be legible, colors will be complementary, and that the audio will not make viewers have to constantly adjust their volume controls. Video and audio quality is important for delivering an effective message. If the quality is poor, the viewer will stop watching. Viewers demand high-definition video with crisp sound. Most of the video we produce at Cisco is at least 720p (DVD quality), which streams well on mobile and desktop devices. We will still provide higher resolution videos at 1080p (Blu-ray quality) for viewers who have greater Internet bandwidth. High-definition video means large file sizes, which present great market opportunities for data storage companies. Cisco estimates that video alone will generate 2.4 million Terabytes of global mobile data traffic this year and will hit 17.5 million Terabytes by 2019.

I often ask myself, “Why would someone want to watch this video?” What is the purpose? Does it effectively convey our overall message? So many videos seem to lack a clear purpose, and leave me wishing I had those minutes of my life back. Which is why our videos incorporate three main principles:

  • Purpose: Why are we making this video in the first place? Who cares?
  • Takeaway: After watching this video, what will our audience walk away with?
  • Call to action: What actions or tasks have we inspired our audience to do (e.g., visit a website, donate, plant a tree…)?

It is impossible to watch every video out there. You have to pick and choose which ones to devote your time and attention to. According to YouTube, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, a 500 percent increase from 3 years ago when only 60 hours of video was uploaded every minute. Still, people try to watch as much of this content as they can. YouTube reports more than 4 billion views on its platform everyday while Facebook reports 3 billion. With billions of potential views each day, and growing, it’s a competitive world vying for those eyeballs. I’m not saying that our Cisco IT videos strive to steal views from Taylor Swift, but we compete for views amongst other Cisco teams and videos produced in our industry. In the tech world, new products become outdated and ideas spring up quickly, so pushing relevant video content out to our audience as fast as possible is crucial.

Visit our Cisco YouTube channel where our Inside Cisco IT playlist resides to see the videos we have produced. Let us know what you think of them in the comments below. Also, what did you think of this blog post? In some way ironic to write about the importance of video. Do you think this post should have been a video instead?

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2 Comments

  1. Great post Alex.

  2. Great post and very informative Alex. Agree very much on the how these videos are delivered. Our own internal vidoes are defintley are great advert for how we deliver this content, both internally at Cisco and to Customers and partners.