Microsoft Stream – A Good Start, but Don’t Miss the Real Point

Microsoft recently announced the General Availability (GA) of its video portal product called Stream. This is the second unveiling of the product and in true Microsoft form has made real progress in terms of the maturity and feature set. Although the new capabilities announced are all critical (ok, some are more critical than others), it’s important not to get lost in the feature checklist game and miss the real point.

Steve Vonder Haar, Senior Analyst of Enterprise Webcasting & Streaming at Wainhouse Research recently published the following article about some of Stream’s key new capabilities. I’d like to focus instead on what I think are some of the more important statements Microsoft makes with Stream at large.

Changing how we think about enterprise video

Stream is a clear signal that Microsoft is serious about transforming video from a feature in their product suite to an integral way in which they expect people to use video within the new Microsoft paradigm. I see Stream as the centerpiece of an evolving strategy at Microsoft that will change the way we think about enterprise video.

So much of our view today is of siloed video applications like:

The future will be different. As Microsoft integrates Stream into the core fabric of Office365 and the key technologies within it, the new paradigm will become more clear.

Moving to integrated, consumer-like capabilities

Tying video into application environments like Yammer and Teams will be simple at first, but over time Stream will likely become the framework to enable video through the workflows in which users spend most of their time.

My prediction is that Stream will become the construct through which video is organized within the broader Microsoft ecosystem. I expect the market as whole, and Microsoft specifically, to enable a powerful ecosystem of video capabilities in the enterprise. These capabilities will start to more closely mimic those in the consumer world. Products like Stream will become the access layer to:

  • Live video streaming
  • Webcasting
  • User-generated Video on-Demand (VoD) content
  • Syndicated VoD content (like training)
  • Linear “TV programming” channels

The image below gives you a sense of what this might look like eventually. Consumer platforms show the model in action.

Emerging Enterprise video platforms like Stream play a key role.

The content will evolve for the Enterprise, but it may look a little like this.

Increasing need for modern delivery technology

The other key elements that will emerge as Stream and other platforms like it build momentum is the need for infrastructure to address the delivery issue like the Kollective SD ECDN. It will become mandatory that the application layer can assume that such infrastructure exists to allow live video and VOD to run at scale.

If this capability is not in place, the use cases dwindle and the wind will be taken out of the sails of the most powerful use cases like live all-hands meetings or enterprise wide training. I’ve been saying that 2017 is the year that IT will need to build infrastructure for video. It might be 2018, but we are getting there and platforms like Stream will be the driver.

Stream will eventually be a feature leader in the category with:

  • Speech-to-text
  • Live translation
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Workflow tools
  • Directory and group structures in Office 365

In the end, however, real value comes as Stream becomes the framework for the video-enabled enterprise and the access point to video services and content that will completely change the way we think about video going forward. Imagine the power of offering the training library on LinkedIn as syndicated content through Stream …

Providing direct integration with business-critical workflows along with access to millions of users will make Stream a disruptive product and change the way the Enterprise incorporates video into their daily work motions. The ceiling is very high, even if Microsoft doesn’t win the feature battle for another release or two.

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