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Businesses Embracing Online Video Will Fuel The Web's Revolution

If Video Killed the Radio Star, online video will surely kill the static Web.

Video is poised to permeate the Web in a way that goes far beyond YouTube's user-generated clips. The Web's design and flexibility make it a powerful visual medium, with moving images, Flash and animation fast becoming the lingua franca. This presents corporates - and private enterprise in general - with a huge opportunity.

All Video, All the Time
This article will demonstrate how some well-known brands are already defining the Web experience of the future. The following are a handful of ways video is impacting corporate Web strategies and business models:

* Company news and information. Web video enables organizations to become their own broadcast networks. For example, rather than being greeted by the customary block of text and images on a company's home page, visitors may find a running video news feed. British Sky Broadcasting posts its top news stories as video. Organizations can populate the corporate news room with video news releases. To satisfy investors and meet compliance requirements, companies can populate on-demand libraries with shareholder meetings, annual reports and RSS videocasts on a host of topics.

* Product information and how-to. Video can be a key enabler of product support and advice. Avery, the office supply company, offers a library of demos that show how to pull off that pesky mail merge, among other office tasks. Another example, Scott's Miracle-Gro Company, has turned its Web site into a consumer-centric source of advice on lawn care, gardening and related topics. Here, video serves as the primary format for "help" articles.

* Branded entertainment. Organizations can deliver original video content directly to customers. Nike.com offers sports-specific channels that, in addition to offering video-based training, feature stories about Nike athletes. A good example is the basketball documentary on Team USA's road to Beijing.

* Best practices and knowledge management. If commercials and entertainment can be viral, so can internal company knowledge. A manufacturing company with plants all over the world could enable far-flung employees to record and share best practices. Along those same lines, investment in education and training can be expanded exponentially by giving distributed offices and facilities access to video-based programs, seminars and workshops. IT consulting firm Bluewolf provides an example of how businesses might accomplish this-the firm shares its case studies and testimonials with external audiences on Bluewolf TV.

*Community. User-generated content (UGC) can turn customers and fans into a network of content creators who communicate through video. Cult footwear favorite Crocs, for instance, has set up a site that invites lovers and haters of the brand to upload videos
UGC offers organizations a significant source of original content and can foster a natural community that keeps a pulse of the brand. This is where two of today's most powerful trends -- online video and the social Web -- combine to form a new capability for business: the power to create and sustain new communities, glued together by our most compelling mass medium.

Turning on the Spigot
So why should corporate America embrace the video-centric Web? Remember the lessons of a certain small appliance maker called Blendtec. This small business came out of nowhere in a crowded and competitive market segment to establish a vibrant business on the back of short, simple video segments. You never know where the best ideas or content will come from. Successful companies will be the ones that engage online communities with video that is compelling and continuous.

Dave Dutch is senior vice president of products and marketing at Vignette,