Periscope and the Congressional Sit-In Sends a Message to Business Video Vendors

Note: Let’s Do Video is an apolitical organization and has no position on the issues surrounding the recent Congressional sit-in. I am covering this story simply to share my thoughts on the technology being used, and what this means to the established business video industry.

Last week, one of our political parties held a “sit-in” on the floor of the House of Representatives. Since the House was not in session, the House cameras which usually feed to C-Span were turned off. Congress members got their message out by streaming live video over Periscope instead. Interestingly, these feeds were then picked up by C-Span, which effectively used it as a way to get around the shutdown of the House cameras.

As I mentioned in my previous coverage of Periscope, the popular app is proof that live streaming video is becoming a mainstream behavior. At no cost, anyone with a phone can instantly have their live stream embedded in a tweet or shared on the web. The live video can be viewed and shared by millions of people. Facebook has answered by releasing Facebook Live, which is very similar to Periscope. These two tools were used at the sit-in last week, at the suggestion of a young congressional aide, to bypass the lack of access to traditional (TV) media.

Many in the media are covering this as a story about using social media to share news. I think this is more about using commercial video streaming apps instead of traditional TV cameras. Yes, the videos were first shared over Twitter and Facebook, but they were soon picked up by C-Span and included in the traditional TV news. So it wasn’t so much about whether the news is on TV or Twitter, it was about the way the news was being originally captured. Every congressperson was his/her own camera operator.

I think this sends a big message to our industry in terms of user expectations. User no longer care about the distinctions of webcasting, videoconferencing, streaming, recording, telepresence, etc. It’s all just video now and we expect it to be flexible. Any camera (whether it be on your phone or in your meeting room) that is connected to the internet should be able to capture video for any use at any time. Whether it be a 6 person interactive meeting, a webinar to a list of 100 registered viewers, or a blast out to everyone on Twitter, it should should be instant and easy.

My big question is why the congress members had to use a commercial app to stream video from the floor. Why wasn’t there a viable business video option? The big trends in the business video world have been consolidation, simplification, flexibility. However, the uses of business video are still comparatively limited. It’s great that some of our traditional videoconferencing cloud players have added strong webcasting support, but that is just one step towards making video truly flexible and ubiquitous. I guess what really bothers me is the fact that I’m not sure if a single vendor in our space can do what Periscope and Facebook Live do.

Is anyone going to try and convince me that there are no potential business applications of live streaming to a massive social media audience? Do we really believe that the only place for business video is meeting/huddle rooms, and webinars for registered viewers? Shouldn’t the congress members have been using a business class streaming app for better quality and features? Why doesn’t one exist?

If consumer tools continue to out-innovate business tools, we will see more and more consumer tools sneaking into the workplace. I expect some clever marketing people from various industries saw the Congressional sit-in and are already planning live streaming marketing campaigns. These campaigns will have to use Periscope or another consumer tool, because business tools can’t do the job. Look at how Slack has invaded the business world. It is not an enterprise ready solution, and it didn’t come from within the business communications space. It is an easy and available consumer tool that out-innovated the UC community.

It’s time for the business video world to really start getting creative. If it doesn’t want to see consumer solutions start to creep into the space and take their customers, they need to beat the consumer apps to the next big idea. The next Periscope type game-changer should come from the business video community. Our industry needs to lead the way when it comes to video, if we want the workplace to continue to choose business video over free apps.


About Author

David Maldow is the Founder & CEO of Let's Do Video and has been covering the visual collaboration industry, and related technologies, for over a decade. His background includes 5 years at Wainhouse Research, where he managed the Video Test Lab and evaluated many of the leading solutions at the time. David has authored hundreds of articles and thought pieces both at Telepresence Options, where he was managing partner for several years, as well as here at Let's Do Video. David often speaks at industry events and webinars as well as hosting the LDV Video Podcast.

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