Give employees a photocopier, and at office Christmas parties you’ll invariably find a few of them drunk enough to use the machine to make images of their rear ends. Now give them cheap, easy-to-use video software, and see what they can do!
Google managed to bury the launch of its business video offering by leaking news of its Chrome Web browser over the weekend, but it doesn’t really matter. Google Video for business doesn’t really take on any entrenched market heavyweight, doesn’t offer any significant new features or tap into any burning need expressed by any corporate users. It’s an Apps add-on that may not add up to much at all.
Mind you, if anyone were going to bring video to the business market, Google is probably the most appropriate vendor. Given that there are already several other online word processors and spreadsheet programs, video actually offers something unique to the idea of an online productivity bundle. When it’s compared to YouTube, however – a service that has absolutely taken over the world of consumer video – I can’t help but think of the clips that get most viewers’ attention. These are the freak shows, the news-of-the-weird, the embarrassing or politically incorrect sound bite. Are we really to believe that corporate users would only turn to video to capture insightful ideas that move businesses forward?
I haven’t tried Google Video for business, so I don’t know yet whether creating a video message is as quick and simple as writing an e-mail message, which it would have to be in order to succeed. All I know is that creating videos involves one hurdle that no vendor or IT department can address very easily: vanity. Even if you are used to appearing on screen regularly (and few people in an organization are), there is a certain level of self-consciousness involved with being captured on film. This is in contrast to actual videoconferencing, which can be equally intimidating but at least doesn’t have the same sense of permanency. Until we can all be as casual on camera as we are stopping by a co-worker’s office, video communication will be limited in most office settings.
There is another key difference between Google Video for business and YouTube: with the latter, someone else manages it. Even if companies are comfortable throwing up all their keynote speeches, training sessions and sales meetings into the cloud (which I doubt), simply creating more video content means IT departments have a new set of information assets which may or may not have to be tied to systems that have nothing whatsoever to do with Google. What if what happened in the videotaped sales meeting, for example, had an impact on how customers responded to a pitch? That should be fed into whatever business intelligence system is analysing corporate performance. How do you do the integration around that? Maybe someone can show us using Google Video for business.