|Issue:||North America 2007|
|Topic:||Video in the enterprise – not just for Hollywood!|
|Title:||President, CEO and Co-founder|
Prior to co-founding Actelis Networks, Inc, Tuvia Barlev was head of the R&D organization at Teledata, a high-speed communications company, where he led the DLC R&D department. Previously, Mr Barlev held top management positions in government research organizations as head of several elite communications projects. Mr Barlev holds a Bachelor and a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering, both with honours, from Tel Aviv University.
Dramatic changes in TV and video are not just disrupting long-standing business models; they are changing the way business will be conducted. Businesses use video technologies to collaborate and communicate more effectively with customers and partners. The dropping cost of truly rapid broadband communications and the development of new uses such as telepresence, digital signage, individually targeted advertising, and video-based applications to support their operations and field personnel, are driving the rapid growth in the usage of enterprise video systems.
TV and video have had only limited application within an enterprise until recently. This is particularly true for relatively small companies such as my own, but even large enterprises have struggled to find a benefit from video-based applications. There have been a few successful applications, such as security, surveillance and video conferencing, but the overall impact has been minimal due to the cost and complexity of deploying cumbersome, expensive technologies and the lack of a network capable of supporting video throughout the extended enterprise. This is about to change, however, as the same technologies that are revolutionizing entertainment video services for a broad section of consumers are poised to make just as great an impact in the business world. There are several reasons why businesses should be looking more closely at video today. For starters, video quality has been much improved in recent years and is more affordable than ever. This is largely due to the rapidly decreasing cost of cameras and large flat-screen monitors. At the same time, there are new technologies, under the banner of telepresence, that improve the audiovisual experience and make video more attractive and easy to use for collaborative applications. This collaborative aspect is one reason why major vendors such as Cisco and Microsoft are investing heavily in video applications for the enterprise. Add to this the rise in telecommuting, and the growing amount of business conducted via remote conferences, and you can begin to understand the broad potential of video within the enterprise. Nevertheless, these possibilities alone cannot build a solid business case for using video in the business world, public or private. In order to be successful, enterprise video must be widely accessible throughout the company, not just within a few dedicated conference room facilities at headquarters. In the past, videoconferencing has been difficult to set up, often requiring special technicians. There has also been a lack of the bandwidth required to link systems together successfully within the enterprise, making it difficult to deploy videoconferencing in more than just a few locations. Now, however, video can be transmitted over an enterprise Ethernet/IP-based network. Carrier Ethernet makes it possible to deliver video securely across a broad set of viewing devices, enabling conferences to be set up on-demand across the enterprise or the extended business ecosystem that includes partners and customers. The proliferation of video within the enterprise has been made possible by the widespread availability of Ethernet-based broadband services. Thanks to Carrier Ethernet, and in particular Ethernet Access services, even small, remote locations can now deploy the same applications with the same level of performance and reliability. In the past, these remote locations were largely cut off from the high-bandwidth applications running over the core enterprise network. Carrier Ethernet is a logical extension of the enterprise LAN and is able to connect enterprise branch and home offices, creating a network that is capable of supporting business video. Ethernet Access technologies, including Carrier Ethernet over copper, enable branch offices and smaller enterprises to be connected even if they have no direct access to the fibre-optic cables once required to support broadband Ethernet services. In addition to providing the sort of bandwidth required for video, the latest Ethernet access technologies easily support the QoS, Quality of Service, and other characteristics necessary to make the viewing experience a positive one. An important characteristic of enterprise video is that, unlike consumer TV, it is rarely an end in its own right. It is just part of an application or service, such as collaboration, and is essentially used to support essential services, such as voice and data conferencing. The collaborative aspects of video, at any rate, are best implemented within an overall strategy for unified messaging or communications. Video collaboration and telepresence can then evolve according to demand rather than being thrust on users before they need it. Video can be offered as an option within a unified communications directory, accessible both internally and to partners or customers. This option can be exercised, for example, by clicking on a video icon in an email to open up a video conversation with the sender or a designated contact. Where video is not available, the session could fall back to voice or email itself. Business video has the potential to be much more than simply video conferencing. Itís already playing a major role in training and education, where many of the existing techniques from the entertainment sector are being leveraged. Distance-learning techniques are advancing, and the interactive systems provide the ability to forward, pause and rewind broadcast video streams, allowing people to skim over or review sections as needed. Broadband using Carrier Ethernet and IP video enables the association of additional information with embedded text or hyperlinks data, creating rich and interactive content. Another application certain to grow fast on the back of Ethernet/IP video is digital advertising. Digital advertising lets enterprises direct their promotional information with targeted messages to specific audiences. It is set to replace both traditional in-store poster advertisement and outdoor billboards. Digital signs using video in public places, such as transportation centres, shopping malls, sports and entertainment complexes, and retail outlets let advertisers reach their customers with a creative new media. Digital media allows the creation of more highly focused and timely messages and can respond in real time to changing events, such as the weather. The principle is, that if you can get as close as possible to the point of sale, both in time and space, the message will be much stronger and more effective. Industry analysts are predicting that this market will grow five times from US$400 million to over US$2 billion annually within the next five years. Digital signage can also be combined with video and entertainment TV services, and targeted at individual screens to reach a specific person. Here, we may see an overlap between enterprise and consumer TV. An enterprise might purchase a slot from a TV broadcaster to deliver personalised advertising or messages to specific customers. This could be very powerful; it has already been shown that advertising is much more effective and efficient if it is precisely targeted to the individual viewer. IP video delivered over Carrier Ethernet also provides a mobile dimension that will become increasingly prominent within a number of these sectors, including advertising, branded content and training. The mobile network could also be used to enable field personnel to upload content collected remotely from portable cameras, including those that are already integrated into mobile phone handsets. This technology, which can already contribute significantly to breaking news stories with video clips from the scene, could be used to submit insurance claims remotely, deliver step-by-step directions, and enable support staff to provide help by experiencing exactly what the client is seeing in the field. Enterprise video is poised to explode to support a variety of beneficial applications, from video conferencing and training to video signage advertising and interactive personalized customer support. These applications are being made possible not only by the video platforms and application technologies, but by the ubiquity of the Carrier Ethernet network that provides a media capable of delivering the video content.