As it has for many digital businesses, the pandemic has proven to be an accelerator for video platform Brightcove, says its CEO Jeff Ray, who joined the business in 2018.
However, he still sees the changes as evolutionary not revolutionary, in part because of work the company has already undertaken prior to the COVID-19 upending the global economy.
As with companies such as Slack or Zoom which make it easier for scattered work populations to collaborate, or for buyers to better reach sellers, Brightcove finds itself in a strong position.
“This is very much consistent with the human condition, and our innate desire to find ways to break down barriers and to communicate, to inspire, to control [the world.] It hasn’t changed since the printing press democratised printed word, this is just part of the human condition and the human desire to connect with one another.”
However, he allows that the one big thing that COVID has done is to compress the adoption cycle.
“It has forced a much higher sense of urgency upon people. That being said, it still has to make good business sense – that hasn’t changed one bit. It’s just that it’s a lot easier to justify now.”
In fact, in many cases, there was no alternative, he says.
“Your back is up against the wall and you’ve got to find some way to get the word out either to customers, to prospects, to your supply chain, to your employees. That has never been more important so it’s not revolutionary it’s evolutionary and just very compressed.”
Ray says when he joined the business in 2018 it was in need of a new strategy so he set to developing a new three-year plan, which is about are far into the distance and anyone in the tech sector is comfortable projecting.
“We looked at use cases, but we didn’t look at it from the perspective of technology ‘oh look at all these great features and functionality.”
Instead, the focus was on how users were consumer video and were likely to consume video in the future.
Nine such opportunities across a series of clusters were identified with four in particular standing out. Fortuitously, these were also the use cases that aligned to pandemic driven change.
“The first was regional broadcasters who are trying to connect with their stakeholders in a world that is crowded with Disney and Hulu and Netflix, “ he said, describing these organisations as uniquely positioned to reach and communicate with their local communities.
“They have content that no one else has. But they’re trying to figure out how to do that well.”
The next he says are the digital marketers trying to figure out how to grow in a world disrupted by COVID. “These companies are trying to figure out how to accelerate. [It’s about] getting products to market and presenting those in a way that’s attractive with video.”
Many of those same companies are also trying to figure out how to communicate with their stakeholders such as employees, partners, and supply chain members. “Literally they’re standing up a kind of a Netflix-like experience inside the walls of their own company.”
All three of these were exacerbated by COVID.
However, Ray acknowledges that the most disruptive shift came in the area of virtual events. “All of a sudden, the lights went off, there were no sports to watch, companies were canceling [conferences]. You know, big corporate events are for most of them their single largest opportunity to connect the brand with their most rabid, loyal contingent fans.”
Defining the scale of the problem he says that a typical fortune 1000 company spends up to three per cent of its revenues on events. “And all of a sudden that switch was just turned off, [but] the need was never greater. So there’s this just been this profound and massive shift to live virtual events.”
He tells Which-50 it was just luck that these use cases were basically the same things that turned out to be really important in the COVID era.
“Like I said COVID really hasn’t forced this profound change, it’s just accelerated it”.