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The Business Value of Video

April 21, 2011 - 0 Comments

Video is a cool technology. It’s a fun way to communicate. It looks neat. But what’s the real business value around video? What does video give us that other forms of communication don’t? How can a particular video solution help your company achieve x or solve y? These are questions that all companies rolling out a video strategy should consider.

A cornerstone of Cisco’s strategy is to promote collaboration through pervasive use of video. But this doesn’t mean that every type of video should be deployed everywhere or that one size video solution fits all. Our video strategy fundamentally boils down to connecting people, bringing people together, regardless of where they are, and driving the concept of collaboration globally. When you look at how people actually communicate and collaborate, one of the big value contributions of video becomes quite apparent. Many studies have been conducted on the percentage of communication that is really about the spoken word. Results vary but the number tends to hover around 15 percent; that is, the words we choose make up only about 15 percent of our intended meaning any time we communicate. Instead, visual or nonverbal communication overwhelmingly conveys more significance. How we communicate – our body language, facial expressions, inflections in speech – makes up at least 55 to 60 percent of our communication and, to a lesser extent, how we’re viewed (our title, the company we work for, etc.). Some of these influencers exist in voicemail, but not to the extent that they do in video. Video drives humanization, the desire for human beings to connect and collaborate in ways that come naturally. As such, video can hasten the process of building and maintaining trust with others, and ultimately, help to accelerate the decision-making process.

Cisco’s vision for video brings this same effective interaction with people – their body language, facial expressions, tone – to our employees regardless of where they are located and, eventually, independent of the end device they are using. That’s what we mean by pervasive use of video.

Another foundational component of Cisco’s video strategy is metrics: how we measure the value of video, and what the key indicators are that continue to show if we’re making progress. Some of these metrics are incredibly easy to extract, some are quite difficult, and others require lots of inferences. Regardless, it all comes down to demonstrating the value of video within your organization, along with determining the value drivers.

Your video strategy should be broad enough to include the business problems you’re trying to solve or the company objectives you want to drive. How can a video solution or solutions help you achieve those goals? TelePresence is a good example. The value drivers are widely known: significant reduction in global travel costs, increased employee productivity, shortened sales cycles . . . In the early days of Cisco’s TelePresence deployment, of course we had to justify the costs, and then measure and track the value of TelePresence throughout the phases of implementation. And we continue to prove its return on investment today. Now we have identified the value drivers and are applying the same level of metrics and tracking to other types of video solutions within Cisco, including desktop streaming video (value drivers include improving employee knowledge, productivity, and retention); digital signage (communicating Cisco’s brand and culture); and video surveillance (protecting company assets and reducing time to action).

We’re not rolling out video because it’s fun and neat or simply because we can, but because there is true business value in video and a measurable return on our investment.

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