When the pandemic took hold of the economy, many people felt left in the dark by their organizations. What were they to do? Work from home, come into the office — what was the next step?
The result of that ranged from confused managers to unnerved employees, and likely worse. Not being able to communicate in a time of crisis creates havoc for those hard pressed to seek answers and keep progress going.
One of the major challenges that numerous organizations ran into was a lack of unified communications solutions that catered to a hybrid workforce. What’s more, these organizations didn’t have a way to reach a mass audience effectively and, in some cases, securely.
Some leveraged what they could in place of more streamlined or advanced options, but the outcome often disappointed: impersonal audio-only calls, chaotic company-wide video conferences, poorly produced video messages, and more.
Other organizations subscribed to online video conferencing platforms, like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, as an immediate solution to communicate with the rapidly scaling remote workforce.
While these platforms do solve for group collaboration needs, problems tend to emerge when using them to broadcast to a mass audience without additional support. For company-wide broadcasts or town hall meetings, what’s needed is a live or on-demand streaming solution, not a virtual meeting room.
IT leadership has done their best to rapidly transition their organizations into the virtual era, but a fuller, more strategic approach to unified communications is needed in order to be successful long term.
Virtual Meeting Rooms Aren’t Meant for Streaming
Most organizations today rely on two or more unified communications solutions. So, whether it’s Microsoft Teams and Zoom, Zoom and Webex, or another combination, these platforms became essential business tools when the pandemic hit.
The use of video conferencing software allows people to create virtual meeting rooms (VMRs). A VMR serves as a space for co-workers to communicate by using web cameras, laptops or smartphone speakers, and built-in microphones. When it comes to group work, team meetings, and status updates, a VMR works almost as well as in-person meetings.
“Zoom, Teams, Webex — these platforms help bring people together into a virtual meeting room to collaborate,” said Craig Frankenstein, digital media practice manager at AVI Systems. “A webcast or broadcast for one to many, however, is a slightly different application.”
During the pandemic, a newly hybrid — or totally remote — workforce quickly discovered that some platforms had limitations for broadcasts. For starters, using a VMR platform to make a company announcement might require extra due diligence from the hosts to quell unmuted participants.
We’ve all been on a conference call when a dog starts barking, or someone forgets to mute the mic and starts a side conversation. It's disruptive — to say the least. Interruptions like these derail meetings. The moderator must remind everybody to keep their mics muted and stay vigilant for poor online meeting etiquette, which likely draws more attention than it should.
Instead of using a video conferencing platform to broadcast to the masses, it’s better to share these messages using a content delivery network that limits disruptions and communicates announcements more effectively.
Pair VMRs with a Content Delivery Network
To maximize the effectiveness of your message delivery, consider using a content delivery network (CDN) designed for the job.
“Using a virtual meeting room as a streaming solution, you’re going to run into problems,” Frankenstein said. “We want to separate the platforms for contribution and distribution.”
Using a video conferencing platform along with a CDN allows users to broadcast messages in a one-to-many format. The CDN delivers communication in one direction from contributors to the audience, not vice versa. CDNs take video sources and distributes them over the web to an audience.
The difference between relying solely on Zoom or Teams to broadcast messages and pairing that platform with a CDN is the “contribution” element.
When using a virtual meeting room for both content and delivery, everybody invited to the meeting is potentially a contributor. Hosting a company-wide meeting in a VMR can get out of hand quickly, unless somebody is quick with the mute-all function. But there is another component to consider: security.
Connecting hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people in a virtual meeting room means you risk losing control of the message unless you’re very careful about who contributes and who’s involved.
For a one-to-many broadcast, you want to separate the contributors from the audience so you control the platform and the output of the message.This is when you connect a VMR — where your presenters and contributors are — to a CDN, which then reflects the video source out to the masses, creating a unidirectional broadcast.
“By combining these technologies, you’re able to bring to contributors together safely into a virtual meeting room, and then deliver the broadcast to the audience — whether it’s 100, 1,000, or 100,000 people,” Frankenstein said.
Limit Disruptions One Broadcast at a Time
When the circumstances demand a turnkey solution, it’s understandable why people MacGyver solutions to get the job done. However, misapplying technology leads to problems down the line — just as many have experienced during their daily video calls from home.
If your company-wide broadcasts aren’t going as planned or feature regular disruptions (or a constant “shhh, can everybody please mute their mics”), it’s time to consider a better solution. The AVI Systems’ broadcast team can help you identify a technical solution that suits f your team and organization.
We’ll give you a free technology assessment and provide some helpful insight into optimizing your workflows, systems and technology. Request a quote.