How Enterprises Can Produce and Measure High-Quality Online Video

1 - How Enterprises Can Produce and Measure High-Quality Online Video
2 - QoE Hard to Define
3 - Identifying What QoE Means to Your Organization
4 - Buy-In From the Enterprise a Must
5 - Determining How to Deliver Video
6 - Understanding and Committing to the QoE Life Cycle
7 - Optimizing QoE Through Infrastructure
8 - Playback Crucial to QoE
9 - Measuring QoE
10 - Common QoE Key Performance Indicators
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How Enterprises Can Produce and Measure High-Quality Online Video

Although video is quickly becoming a go-to vehicle for enterprise communication, companies continue to find obstacles in creating high-quality content. Here are some guidelines.

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QoE Hard to Define

To ensure broadcast-quality video, one must optimize the quality of experience (QoE). QoE can be difficult to grasp for online video because the value chain is diverse and complex. QoE can be difficult to achieve due to the diversity and complexity of all the elements involved, and because handoffs are many and accountability unclear. Content owners and publishers must address many obstacles to ensure their video is clearly viewable on any device, anywhere in the world.

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Identifying What QoE Means to Your Organization

QoE can be derived from a variety of elements. They include 1) Content: the resolution and quality of the video delivered from the studio through the encoding process—for example, 4K-encoded video will be higher quality than one encoded for standard definition; 2) Content distribution network (CDN): the performance of the network and servers that are physically delivering the video; 3) Internet service provider (ISP): the state of the last-mile access network (its capacity, congestion and performance); 4) Device/application: the quality of the user's device (memory, processor power, disk I/O, etc.) and the application through which the content is rendered; and 5) User behavior: how users interact with the device and the client application through which they are watching the content (i.e., do they have a lot of applications open?).

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Buy-In From the Enterprise a Must

Measuring, fine-tuning and optimizing these various elements to deliver the highest QoE requires a commitment across the organization, especially from the following three critical groups: 1) Business: responsible for providing customer service experience; 2) Technical: tasked with ensuring that delivery architecture is optimal and efficient; and 3) Operations: responsible for maintaining and monitoring the delivery architecture and proactively resolving issues.

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Determining How to Deliver Video

How should your organization deliver its video? Do you just upload to YouTube? Do you build your own player and infrastructure to deliver it, or do you outsource to a commercial partner for those tasks? There are pros and cons to each alternative, and they should all be considered.

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Understanding and Committing to the QoE Life Cycle

Embracing QoE isn't a one-time event that can be fixed with a quick project, but rather an investment in a continuous cycle. Viewer expectations, and the demands on your organization to meet them, are changing and evolving constantly. What equates to good quality today may not tomorrow. Envision this life cycle as a four-part process: 1) Occurrence: The process begins when something happens to negatively impact the QoE; 2) Identification: Once the event has happened, it is critical to identify the source and cause; 3) Resolution: Implementing changes where required, whether it's modifying CDN configurations or switching delivery methods; 4) Prevention: Taking the necessary steps to remedy the situation and ensure that the issue doesn't happen again.

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Optimizing QoE Through Infrastructure

The mechanism through which you publish your video—whether you employ your own servers or work with a third-party CDN—and how you analyze that infrastructure contributes highly to the experience your viewers have. By fine-tuning infrastructure, you can optimize your QoE to provide a video experience that will keep your users satisfied and engaged. With your infrastructure serving as the beating heart of delivery architecture, the computing and network elements—such as HTTP servers, media servers, routers, switches and bandwidth—must be optimized. Doing so will maximize your reach, impacting the QoE for viewers who are far removed from your infrastructure. Scale goes hand-in-hand with reach and represents the ability for your infrastructure to scale to handle spikes in traffic and user demand.

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Playback Crucial to QoE

Once reach and scale are optimized, you must ensure that playback is up to standards as well. Availability and consistency may seem simple, but these are the attributes on which your content will be judged the most. Delivering in-depth analysis and measurement is the key to ensure your viewers' requests will be readily satisfied.

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Measuring QoE

To deliver the best possible video experience, one must implement a system of measurement to provide data against which to fine-tune your video experience. Whatever system and standards you select, they must provide actionable data to take back to your team to allow them to pinpoint any possible QoE problems, whether it's in the infrastructure, playback or elsewhere. There are two types of data your team will need to measure your architecture and viewer experience: infrastructure and playback data. While most enterprises delivering video measure experience data on an aggregate level, receiving a picture of the average experience across their entire user base, some organizations need data on a much more granular level. Consider sampling and other methods to ensure that you are providing a great QoE experience.

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Common QoE Key Performance Indicators

Although there are a host of measurements that can be taken, each organization needs to distill that information down to the relevant data points that reflect their own QoE for their specific infrastructure and player. There are several common data points that have been recognized by video publishers worldwide as critical to ensuring the highest QoE for video viewers, including throughput, consistency, time to first byte, bitrate and completion rates, among others.