Picture the scene. You’ve just organised a livestreamed corporate event to announce your latest product launch. The stage is set, the audience is online and all your streaming software is in place. You hit “go live” and prepared to be face-to-face with 10,000 customers and employees… and nothing happens. The screen is blank, the sound doesn’t work, or you’re faced with a “spinning wheel of death”. What do you do? It’s a nightmare scenario, but one that many business leaders have found themselves faced with.
Unfortunately, as the adoption of live video continues to grow, the opportunities for such technical failures are only going to become more common. With almost half (49%) of workers now using video to access information at work, there is a growing demand for CEOs and business leaders to ditch the traditional office-wide email and instead appear on camera to deliver a virtual “town hall meeting”.
With such live video appearances however, comes an element of risk. With this risk in mind, here are four ways that your IT team can prepare for, and troubleshoot, a faulty enterprise live stream event:
1. Allow Time To Test In Advance At The Location
Live events are always high-pressured and time sensitive activities, often with multiple moving parts. As such, waiting until the last minute to test and resolve potential issues can be a recipe for disaster. Before starting your livestreamed event, IT teams should make sure that they have tested:
- The network connection.
- The power and cabling.
- On-site devices such as cameras, lights and microphones.
- Presentation files and embedded video services.
As part of the pre-live preparation, take note of any new, untrained or offsite personnel who might also need to be present (for instance interpreters for multi-language videos). It is also worth taking a note of any unusual equipment or connection required such as satellite or 4G wireless connections. Keep a checklist of this information nearby so that you can refer to it in the moment if an issue were to arise.
2. Always Keep A Spare
Even if you’ve tested all of your equipment beforehand, something can always break in the moment. Redundancy can help guard against these problems, insuring that you always have a back-up in place should something fail. And it’s not just physical devices that require a fall-back option. In order to be truly prepared, IT teams should also ensure that backup infrastructure is in place, including establishing a secondary network connection. Similarly, a dying encoder does not necessarily have to prove fatal for a livestreamed event if the IT team has had the foresight to put a backup encoder in place.
3. Isolate The Components That Are Working Well
When attempting to establish the root cause of a livestream failure, the most important step is always to identify which components are working as expected and then isolate them from those that aren’t. If for example you can view the livestream but your colleagues can’t, then it’s clearly an issue with distribution process rather than the physical hardware itself. Similarly, if a business is running its event through an SD ECDN platform (Software-defined content delivery network), IT teams can run a separate test event in order to guarantee that the SD ECDN is running as expected. By testing each of these options in turn, you can narrow down the available options until you reach the root cause. As in any troubleshooting scenario, identifying the symptoms of a problem and tracing its origin are required before the problem can be solved. If you make changes based on the symptoms alone, you might inadvertently worsen the problem or introduce a new one.
4. Develop A Culture Of Continuous Improvement
Even with on-site testing, back-ups on standby and a well-prepared team, unforeseen issues are always a possibility during a live event. For this reason, it is vital that businesses encourage a culture of constant improvement. Whether through post-event analysis or future network alterations, teams should be encouraged to continually improve not only the next event’s performance, but the overall process of video distribution. What’s important is to identify what wasn’t ideal and improve on those things for next time – documenting every potential improvement as you go. Specific examples of things that IT departments may want to adjust include:
- Upgrade circuits for locations that experienced some congestion.
- Lower bitrates to improve deliverability on a slower network.
- An upgraded encoder or higher bitrate if audiences are not happy with the picture quality.
Running a Network Readiness Test (NRT) can also prove a vital step in detecting potential delivery issues across a network. This could include anything from blocked protocols to sites with congestion, right through to broadcasting in areas of the world that suffer from latency issues. By establishing a baseline and re-running the NRT after changes have been made, businesses can confirm that the changes have worked and that their livestream will continue to improve in future.
According to research from Kollective, less than half (43%) of employees are satisfied with the communication from their management team. Given this disconnect, CEOs and business leaders are looking for new and increasingly personal ways to communicate with their employees. With this in mind, livestreamed updates and corporate ‘town hall’ events will grow increasingly important as forms of corporate communication. In order for this to happen however, IT teams must not only supply the right systems, but must also be prepared for every eventuality on the day.