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The Digital Transformation of Video

By: Lydia Bird

A range of technological innovations, combined with rapid developments of new platforms, products and services, are disrupting the digital media landscape.  Significant changes have been observed in the way video is produced, distributed, consumed and archived.  These changes have a profound impact on the way we record, share, communicate and make sense of the world around us.

Today, video is not simply an important part of the online experience.  Increasingly, video is the internet.  Within the next few years the overwhelming majority of internet traffic will be video.  According to Cisco, global consumer internet video traffic will make up 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2019, up from 64% in 2014.  This percentage does not include videos exchanged through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing.  The sum of all forms of video [including TV, video on demand (VoD), Internet, and P2P] will be 80-90% of global consumer traffic, which means that every second, nearly one million minutes of video content will be shared across the network by 2019.

 A particularly significant trend is the explosive growth of social video – a trend that is projected to accelerate further in the next few years.  Video viewing on Facebook grew  very rapidly from 4 billion views per day in April 2015 to 8 billion per day in November 2015, the equivalent of over 500 million daily users. On Snapchat, video viewing  exceeded 6 billion per day by November 2015, tripling the daily viewing figure recorded in May 2015.  YouTube has over one billion users, which is about one third of the  global internet population; and each day, people watch hundreds of millions of hours of video, making it the second most popular search engine in its own right, surpassed  only by its big brother, Google.  More importantly, the emergence of new ways of creating and consuming video, whether YouTube’s 360 Player or the forthcoming release  of virtual reality kit Oculus Rift by Facebook in early 2016, will promise a world of video that is more immersive and engaging, opening up new possibilities for business applications aimed at delivering unique user experiences.

As online video quickly becomes a key means for people to satisfy their information, entertainment and social needs in the digital age, businesses that fail to develop a coherent video strategy and incorporate video in their marketing and operations will do so at their own peril.  The digital transformation of video production, distribution, consumption and archiving is enabling the effective exploitation of video on multiple devices and via different channels (particularly mobile), which may mark the beginning of the long awaited arrival of ‘social business’, where video-dominated social media will fundamentally transform workplace communication across business functions, organisational boundaries, geographies and cultures.


The digital transformation of video production is facilitated by a series of incremental technological and business innovations, which are collectively leading to radical changes.  While high quality professional video production remains expensive and time consuming, the lowering of technological, financial and skill barriers for video production to virtually nothing for billions of people has resulted in the explosive growth of video production in recent years.  These are often in new formats (e.g. very short video clips or 24/7 continuous live streaming) and in new areas (e.g. showing someone playing a video game) that are distinct from traditional professional video production.


The transformation of video distribution is equally significant.  We have witnessed rapid growth of on-demand video via digital networks to multiple screens (TVs as well as tablets and mobile phones), although the predicted demise of traditional linear programmed TV is likely to take a long time to materialise.  The transformation of video distribution is facilitated by three developments: the near ubiquitous broadband and 3G/4G mobile networks, the mass ownership of smartphones and tablets as well as personal computers, and the rapid growth of platform firms (from YouTube and Facebook, Netflix and Amazon, to Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, Meerkat, Twitch and Periscope, to name a few).


Alongside the technological push, the digital transformation of video production and distribution is also fuelled by the rapidly growing video consumption by the public on multiple devices/screens via different channels.  The volume of video consumption has been growing at unprecedented speed.  In addition to traditional TVs and desktop computers, the proliferation of smartphones and tablet computers has freed people from the confinement of their homes and offices.  People are increasingly able to consume videos anywhere anytime, even using multiple screens concurrently.

Archiving and Collection Management

Video is the most data-intensive and difficult to manage digital asset.  As business use of video continues to grow rapidly both for marketing and operations, managing video assets effectively will become a complex task for a growing number of organisations.  This includes storage, indexing, creation of metadata for search, editing and reuse, all of which put significant pressure on the corporate IT infrastructure.  Fortunately, a growing range of software and third party services are available to suit the needs and circumstances of the organisation.


The implications of the digital transformation of video production, distribution, consumption and archiving go well beyond the emergence of new commercial opportunities and challenges for platform firms or advertisers.  In our increasingly networked world, technological advances in camera technology and accessibility, development of new infrastructure and platforms for distribution and editing, and the creation of new communities around video, are collectively transforming the way we experience products, services, arts and culture.  The lowering of technological, financial and skill barriers are empowering billions of people around the world to become video makers, consumers, critics and re-mixers.

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