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The Democratization of Video Content Creation

Posted by Cliff Pollan on 18, Jan, 2010


When I look at Cisco’s Flip or Kodak’s Zi-8 cameras, they immediately remind me of the introduction of the Apple computer. The Apple computer started one of the greatest revolutions in human experience – distributing the power of computing directly into the hands of individuals. Just as the personal computer democratized the way we work with information, I believe we are in the midst of a revolution fomented by high-definition, hand-held video cameras. Until recently, only professional producers and camera people created video, but now people throughout organizations use these cameras to create important and relevant information. Like most revolutions, once started there’s no turning back.

I saw my first Apple in an office just outside a large mainframe data center, shortly after its commercial release. The cost of that mainframe system was over $1,000,000, while the Apple computer cost roughly $2,000. One year later, several colleagues used an Apple computer to select stocks for investment using a database of company information. Previously, this was a task that required a mainframe – with attendant high cost, complex software, and an expert user. The Apple-based system was simple to use, its data sold on a subscription basis, and if you wanted to update or rerun your selection criteria, making changes took a matter of minutes and no incremental cost.

With the release of the personal computer, there were cries that computers were inappropriate for business users. Professionals in IT and CFO’s alike feared that untrained users would use them to guide business decisions – which would be disastrous because “…they don’t know how to use them properly”. They believed computers were meant only for technology professionals and computer programmers with proper training and management. In the end personal computers were much easier to use than their mainframe ancestors, enabling everyone to become more comfortable, capable, and increasingly reliant upon them. The information paradigm changed.

Today, as these new cameras penetrate organizations, we hear similar cries of concern. Communication professionals and CMO’s are concerned that if individual employees use these cameras to create information for customers and prospects, they will garble messaging they have worked so hard to create. Like their earlier IT/CFO cousins, they believe all communication should be centralized, rather than decentralized, before it is shared with prospects and customers.

The handheld HD camera is instigating change in a fashion similar to the personal computer. Employees embrace this new technology and use it as a value tool for communicating more effectively and personally. Cost and access are the major drivers of this evolution, just as they were for the personal computer. For as little as $200, anyone can get everything they need to begin creating their own video-based communication. Devices are plug-and-play easy; everyone benefits from simplicity and low cost.

These cameras democratize the creation of personalized, engaging content at a fraction of the cost for three fundamental reasons.

  1. They move content creation into the hands of any business user, eliminating the need for a trained videographer, expert producer, or seasoned editor. Eventually, all employees will know how to create video content, with a comfort that approaches the using of a word processor.
  2. They help every organization and individual bring a more authentic touch to their business communication.
  3. They engage prospects and customers through multiple senses – leveraging sight, sound, and emotion as effectively as our most engaging medium – television.

With their diffusion, these new technologies will create new opportunities for the experts who have been creating video content for years – educating organizations and individuals on ‘best practices’ for their new-found capabilities. Expect professionals to take responsibility for guiding enabled masses to higher levels of quality, innovation, and everyday use – just as we saw with the advent of the personal computer. This revolution will transform; it will not destroy.

My suggestions – buy handheld high-definition cameras and distribute them to your best spokespeople and writers. Today’s evolving marketplace requires that you create compelling content to engage your clients and prospects. These are wonderful tools that jump-start the process. Harnessing the intellectual capital of your employees puts you at the forefront of another fundamental change in the information paradigm.

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