Surfing the Online Video Wave

Last month, Wired magazine grabbed lots of attention through its cover story The Web Is Dead. Of course we all know the Web isn’t dead, and so does Wired. The real point of the article was that the Internet is changing quickly and more traditional uses of the Web like “surfing” to CNN.com to click on a headline is rapidly being eclipsed by the cool new things we’re doing.

Chief among these new things is sharing and consuming incredible amounts of video. Today we don’t just read headlines on CNN.com, we watch the stories. As the chart accompanying the Wired article shows, video now represents about half of all U.S. Internet bandwidth use, while what we consider typical “surfing” now represents just 23 percent.

So what’s the big career tip that emerges from these facts? Well, it seems to me that we should probably all become video editors. But if not, there are other conclusions to draw about the shape the online future is taking and how you can best position yourself to thrive in it.

Why has online video taken off so quickly? As Magnify.net’s Steve Rosenbaum recently explained, three things have happened relatively quickly: most of us have great video cameras, high bandwidth and have found easy ways to distribute and consume video. This is true not only for the home, but in the workplace. Use of video for business purposes has exploded and it’s only going to increase as training, collaboration, and information sharing utilizes online video, as we recently wrote about at Dice.

Which means anyone with the skills to maximize network performance is going to be sitting pretty. Think data center design, data (e.g. video) archiving and retrieval, virtualization – many of today’s hottest buzzwords all come into play when performance is being discussed.

The other angle on workplace network optimization for video is mobility. Everyone who works in IT today understands the reality of the 24/7 workplace with a dispersed workforce tapping in from anywhere at any time. Today these workers may be far more likely to access a client database or a budget spreadsheet than video content. But tomorrow, who knows? The projections make it clear that soon we’ll need smooth and fast video delivery to our work-related handheld gadgets, even if we’re not even quite sure yet why we’ll need it.

As online video infiltrates every industry, experts in video production, storage, and distribution are, and will continue to be in demand. In the advertising industry, for example, the “Old Spice guy” videos have been viewed close to 200 million times. In this space video is already in full effect and will only grow exponentially as media budgets shift to the (not yet dead) Web, where ad performance is easy to measure.

It’s true all over. Online catalogs steadily moving from photos to videos and even the ubiquitous “about us” pages of corporations are increasingly studded with welcome videos from the top brass rather than PDFs or one-page write-ups.

It may be a worthwhile exercise for you to take a sheet of paper and simply write at the top, “Video in my workplace/video in my life.” Then jot down your little brainstorms about how video impacts your life right now. Is video already a factor in your organization? Is it growing? Does it impact your day-to-day work? Should it? Are there ways that you can lead your team in this direction rather than follow? It’s worth a few minutes of reflection. Any time you see a line on a graph shooting toward the stratosphere, it’s usually a good idea to decide if you want to hop on and go along for the ride.

Don Willmott 

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