In addition to creating the original content, business management must be attentive to three key areas: identifying important streams; establishing performance targets; and comparing your performance to your competitors'. But operations professionals have equally important roles to fulfill: defining the right technical delivery methods; quantifying performance targets; and ensuring adequate capacity.
1. Identify high-value streams. All Web elements are not equal. Your attention should be concentrated on the content streams that matter most, such as those that:
· Drive revenue, as in a pay-per-view model of business.
· Fulfill contractual obligations, like training seminars delivered as part of a service package.
· Represent risk, such as areas in which failure to deliver (or to deliver with a minimum of errors) could expose your company to lost revenues, lost contracts or lost customers/clients.
As management focuses on the most critical streams, operations must examine the means for delivering them: What's available in-house? Are additional investments required? Does the organization need to consider third-party vendor relationships to meet current technical demands or to expand capacity?
2. Quantify your performance targets. You cannot reach what you do not aim for. As a matter of policy, your multimedia performance levels must be measured against an acceptable, objective benchmark. Establishing the benchmark should be a joint effort between management and operations, with the former contributing business goals as the latter confirms realistic expectations for achievement, and is responsible for the method of monitoring.
In our experience, the minimum standard for delivery is 97% error-free multimedia performance. Anything less represents a risk of angry or lost customers. Areas of concern include:
· Up-time: the percentage of time your multimedia content is actually available for viewing
· Start-time: a measure of the amount of time it takes for your content to launch
· Rebuffer ratio: the percentage of time lost to delays as customers wait for content to buffer and/or rebuffer
3. Compare your measurements. Your customers' expectations are also formed by their experiences at other online sites. In addition to capturing your own performance measurements, you need access to comparable measurements for similar content -- both those of your competitors and of industry leaders, such as YouTube, that set the standard for Web content delivery.
These comparative indications give you precious insight on where you stand with your Web users: as an acceptable content provider; as a champion who beats the averages; or as an under-performer who risks increased dissatisfaction and decreased revenues.
As your commitment to multimedia grows, so too will your investment in technologies -- in-house or with third-party vendors -- to help you deliver your content effectively and consistently. Without careful planning, these investments can spiral out of control -- a ‘hodge-podge' of ad hoc efforts engineered as short-term solutions. Make sure your organization has a rational process that meets growing needs while validating the merits of each investment.