While the world watches the TV streaming wars shake out, a more interesting revolution unfolds
When streaming went mainstream, its consumer-driven dramas took center stage. Media royalty plotted to reclaim territory it had ceded for extra gold. Upstarts like Netflix scrambled to cultivate land of their own. And a populace subjected to outrageous cable packages for too long untethered themselves from the old guard and joined the streaming revolution. But across industries and territories, an equally compelling saga goes largely unnoticed.
Leading enterprises are asking questions about the increasing sophistication of streaming technology. In industries ranging from construction to architecture to medicine to manufacturing, streaming is changing the way companies produce, manage, and distribute their products and services.
But to understand the emerging story of enterprise streaming, it’s important to take a step back and understand the larger streaming saga.
A streaming story in three acts
When technology goes mainstream, it follows a predictable story arc:
Academics and researchers commit to solving a highly specific problem and develop an innovative piece of technology. A government weaponizes it or a company commercializes it. Eventually, through need or design, that invention becomes friendly and enters the daily lives of average consumers.
Computers were intimidating mainframes for armies and big corporations before they became approachable machines named after fruit.
The internet was a military project turned communication channel for academics before becoming a place to share photos, buy books, or watch movies.
On the other hand, the story of streaming is a uniquely consumer-driven narrative told in acts defined by music, movies, and video games. It’s important to know how it entered the mainstream to understand how it will eventually affect enterprises.
SINGING TO THE TUNE OF NEW TECH
As the world entered the new millennium, we breathed a sigh of relief. The prophesied Y2K bug hadn’t ground the world to a fiery halt. It was back to business as usual.
But as the rest of the world put its candles and canned fruit away, one segment of the population was still in the throes of a technology-fuelled panic: the music industry. A new generation of music lovers were questioning the premise of paying for music thanks to sites like Limewire and the notorious Napster. Why commit to an album for $20 when you could download select songs for free?
It simply wouldn’t do. The record industry joined forces and sued the upstarts into submission. Still, consumers had experienced a new way of consuming content that was digital, decentralized, and on-demand. But in truth, it wasn’t particularly convenient. While peer-to-peer file sharing sites had lightened the load of downloading songs, it still wasn’t happening at anything close to breakneck speed.
Waiting 15 minutes to download a song only to eagerly hit play and discover a corrupt file was a common occurrence.
Eventually, the music industry clued in: It wasn’t that people didn’t want to pay. They just didn’t want to pay in the same way. Instead, they sought to unchain themselves from the physical world and enter a musical experience defined by convenience and immediacy. Luckily, conditions were right to go to market with such a service. And just like that, impressive lossy compression methods, increased broadband capabilities, and a little device called the smartphone conceived the music streaming reality we know today.
But as any history lover knows, revolutions are contagious, and streaming fever was far from burned out.
DVD, YOU’LL NEVER WORK IN THIS TOWN AGAIN
If the internet’s capture of the music world was an invasion, its seizure of the video market was more of a stealth operation.
The film and TV industry seemed to think it was relatively safe from threats of similar disruptions. A three-minute ballad was not the same as a three-hour blockbuster.
Were users going to wait an entire day to download a grainy movie with shoddy audio? In the new millennium? Please.
But the appetite was there, so the internet delivered. First up was a hearty serving of plug-ins, like the notorious Adobe Flash, which was infamous for both its ubiquity and security vulnerabilities. But after giving the World Wide Web collective indigestion for over a decade, Flash’s fortunes changed seemingly overnight.
Less than a decade later, Adobe announced it would retire its controversial star, and websites quickly jumped to adopt alternatives.
The shift from clunky, proprietary plug-ins to graceful open-source protocols made it easy for the web and the clever people who develop it to work in collaboration. Projects were built on a shared foundation, allowing for innovations in data packet transmission and content distribution that made it possible to stream millions of hours of content globally and daily.
And that exponential increase in load would catapult the dreams of content streaming past consumption and straight into the world of interaction.
FROM PASSIVE VIEWER TO ACTIVE PARTICIPANT
If the history of streaming teaches you anything, it should be that consumers are insatiable. Give them music downloads and they’ll demand continuous audio content. Serve up continuous audio content and they’ll start looking for accompanying visuals, too.
So, it’s only a matter of time before passive consumers desire active participation. If we’ve streamlined one-way content delivery, why not create a two-way street? Interactive audiovisual tools like Skype were entering the mainstream alongside film and television streaming. But just as plug-ins were questioned before, people started challenging the necessity of native applications. People wanted real-time communication, and they didn’t want to install anything two minutes before a video call to get it.
Spotting the demand for an open real-time communication web standard, Google bought Global IP Solutions in 2010. Global IP Solutions contained the component parts needed to launch WebRTC (short for “Web Real Time Communication”), an open-source project with the objective to make browser-based real-time web communication a reality.
In other words, rather than downloading Skype and conducting calls through the application, participants would be able to enter a URL into any browser and instantly enter a video call. No muss. No fuss.
While WebRTC is an ongoing project, the idea of streaming interactive content is already in full swing. In 2018, Netflix released its first interactive movie for adults, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Over the past few years, social networks have fully embraced streaming with dedicated channels like Facebook Live, Twitter Live, and Instagram Live.
Streaming also revolutionized how gamers interact with each other. In the past, gaming’s interactivity relied on playing with other people. With platforms like Twitch, it’s expanded into watching people play and leaving commentary as they do.
This switch towards streaming and interactivity in the gaming industry has made video games more lucrative than producing blockbuster films.
In fact, the third act of the streaming revolution is really the story of the video game industry, and the biggest companies are paying close attention. Cloud gaming is predicted to transform the gaming world into a $300 billion market by 2025. With the cloud, gamers don’t need to download files or purchase multiple disks and cartridges to play the latest game. They can simply choose their favourite game and stream it to their device, in the same way entertainment lovers can browse and stream movies and shows on demand.
Unsurprisingly, traditional rivals like Xbox (Microsoft) and PlayStation (Sony) have torn down old walls to work collaboratively on beating tech goliaths. And for good reasons.
Emerging competitors like Amazon and Google see natural alignment between their core business and this evolving industry.
In fact, Google is taking an interesting approach to cloud gaming with its service, Stadia. One of the biggest challenges game manufacturers face is the difficulty of streaming. With TV shows and movies, it’s a relatively straightforward process. With games, users interact with the content, making it an unpredictable environment. To work around this, Google Stadia has dismissed the notion of a game console entirely and focused on designing a high fidelity gaming experience specifically designed for the cloud.
In a multi-player arena, alliances are critical to winning and with billion-dollar revenues at stake, today’s top players are angling for a victory.
The untold enterprise story of streaming
But this entrée into the gaming world brings us back to our original purpose: understanding the effects of streaming on enterprises. Generally speaking, where the gaming industry goes the rest of the 3D world follows.7 The creation of dedicated interactive streaming environments, like Google Stadia, lays the foundation for powerful enterprise use cases.
Audio and video streaming presented helpful enterprise use cases for remote working and team communication. The addition of the gaming world added a new dimension - or a third dimension to be more precise. Countless industries that rely on high-fidelity, 3D models:
• An automaker markets its cars more effectively with crisp 3D models.
• A real estate developer or architect wins more clients with real-time 3D renderings that paint an exact picture of the final outcome.
• Energy companies save on training costs by using virtual reality and augmented reality to simulate dangerous real-world scenarios.
• Doctors improve patient outcomes with high-definition 3D images.
The list goes on.
But while 3D renderings provide a highly effective marketing and production tool for enterprises, this use case has been stymied by inefficient delivery networks. And since streaming is not a core business activity, these enterprises have traditionally made do with expensive, dedicated hardware, limited remote working capabilities, and hindered collaboration. For now.
Today, a perfect storm is brewing: it’s combining the best of cloud computing, 3D rendering, real-time communication, and the final piece, bandwidth capabilities, to provide exciting uses for enterprises across geographies and industries. Real-time 3D streaming in enterprises presents a remarkable proposition to lower operational costs while increasing production outcomes and end-user engagement.
Why is this important? Well, in a knowledge economy, it’s not just about recruiting the best talent. It’s about doing something with it. Tomorrow’s businesses will live and die on the power of how well they put their intellectual capital to work. Reaping returns will depend on cross-disciplinary collaborations that allow professionals to produce powerful deliverables whether they’re working in San Francisco or Shanghai, from a dedicated computer or via a mobile phone.
There’s a streaming revolution within enterprise environments, and we’re here to tell that story.
Can your value chain withstand the future?
When’s the last time you checked on your value chain? You know what we’re talking about: that series of interconnected business functions and processes that let you deliver value to your customers. It’s the series of steps that allow you to successfully produce, market, sell, distribute, and service your company’s solution.
Communication links all of these processes together, and these communication channels must be bi-directional and powered by technology. There’s no other option.
Consider manufacturing and production. In its 2015 report, Digitizing the value chain, McKinsey & Company found that 80 percent of surveyed executives believe digital manufacturing would be a “critical driver of competitiveness”.
What exactly would this digital manufacturing environment comprise? Well, the easy answer includes the usual suspects like 3D printing and robotics. But a closer look reveals the need for a stronger foundation upon which a digital value chain can be built. Only 13 percent of polled executives felt their organization had the “high digital capacity” to move forward with transformative change, namely:
• Computer-aided design (CAD)
• Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
• Integrated, collaborative information systems
• Inaccessible or cost-prohibitive computer infrastructure or applications.
And that’s only on the production side. If we turn our attention to the marketing side, companies are experiencing similar pain.n Brands are competing for consumers’ attention and consumers are quite frankly, overloaded. To compensate, brands are embracing what Deloitte calls, “personalized, contextualized, and dynamic” marketing strategies.
In other words, marketers must now foster one-to-one relationships and a sense of intimacy at scale.
If that weren’t challenging enough, both selling and distribution have transformed into thorny digital transformation challenges as well. In recent years, urgent calls to embrace omnichannel retail strategies have replaced panicked cries about e-commerce’s assault on brick-and-mortar.
In its report, "Building Your Omni-Channel Journey", Deloitte illustrated the changing battleground in the fight for retail customers. Instead of taking a wrecking ball to their storefront, retailers were encouraged to make it a node in a larger omni-channel ecosystem. After all, physical experiences weren’t dead. Consumers just wanted them augmented.
e-Commerce giants have taken notice. In an effort to eliminate the persistent pain point of online shopping - the lack of instant gratification - Amazon has introduced same day delivery in several urban locations. Other e-retailers are scrambling to keep up. A brick-and-mortar store’s USP of same-day purchases and physical interaction may no longer be so unique.
Same-day delivery is narrowing the chasm between brick-and-mortar fulfillment and e-commerce fulfillment. However, it still doesn’t address one glaring shortcoming of online shopping: pre-purchase product engagement. Customers like to touch and see the products they buy, particularly the expensive ones. And no matter how extensive and high resolution your online catalogue of furniture or luxury goods is, sometimes, it just won’t do.
Future proofing your value chain with real-time 3D streaming
Sounds like a lot of problems. But imagine for a moment that you could solve all of the issues listed above.
ACCELERATING BREAKTHROUGH R&D AND PRODUCTION THROUGH COLLABORATIVE 3D STREAMING
Generally, people accept that collaboration generates remarkable outcomes. But as outlined by Harvard Business Review, many teams struggle to execute on their fantasy of effective collaboration. Their hesitation is based on fears like:
• What if it takes too much timen to coordinate with the right collaborators?
• What if I can’t trust my co-creators to deliver the high value that my clients expect?
• What if they don’t have the expertise to make a meaningful contribution to the project?
• What if we can’t communicate our team’s technical knowledge effectively to make the most progress?
As you can probably tell, many of these collaboration fears come down to coordination and communication, specifically, the communication of technical requirements. To avoid the pain, teams settle for good enough and sacrifice the remarkable outcomes possible through optimized collaboration.
Consider the legendary partnership of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Without Wozniak, there would be function, but no form. Without Jobs, there would not have been insufficient vision to take a historically commercial technology (computers) and make them accessible and friendly enough to usher in the personal computing era.
In the case of Apple’s founding partnership, a shared technical vocabulary and enthusiasm helped. This may not always be the case within enterprises. And even if there were buy-in for all-day explanations of technical concepts to non-technical teams and vice versa, this wouldn’t be the most effective use of time.
On the other hand, photorealistic 3D streaming enables this collaboration without significant prior knowledge. A spoken explanation of a technical product doesn’t compare to a guided demo complete with 3D renderings that cross-functional teams can view, manipulate, and question. Similarly, a 3D collaboration platform’s customization allows peers to provide suggestions and apply them in real time to iterate quickly on new ideas.
What value does this present to companies that have chugged along just fine until now? It allows them to align and synergize their competencies with whatever the business’ future holds and quickly respond to new changes within the market.
In the long term, it also allows manufacturers to act on additive manufacturing strategies, by creating detailed models needed for 3D printing.
HOW MARKETING CAMPAIGNS ACHIEVE 10X IMPACT USING REAL-TIME 3D STREAMING
The business case for real-time 3D streaming extends beyond the scope of manufacturing.
When Chevrolet unveiled its new mid-range Corvette, it wanted to make an impact. Their livestreamed launch encouraged engagement by directing viewers to an online 3D configurator that would allow car enthusiasts to build their own custom Corvette Stingray.
As eager car fans raced to the site, the site was unable to keep up with the demand. It became gridlocked. Visitors who clicked the link excited to use the 3D configurator either found a back-up 2D version of the tool or couldn’t access the page altogether. Despite the glitches, by the end of the month, the brand drew 2.4 million visits and 1.3 million configurator users.
In the digital marketing world, engaging with customers and convincing them to hand over two extremely valuable resources - their attention and their information - is a tricky business. You better be offering something special, and a simple PPC ad or high resolution catalogue, more often than not isn’t it. The Chevy car configurator offered something unique and personal, and it managed to do soat scale.
And as we said earlier, offering personalized and dynamic experiences at scale is the new world of digital marketing.
Why exactly is this the case?
These experiences deliver the following benefits:
• BUILT OUT SALES PIPELINES: The more people engage with your interactive 3D content and share their information, the more opportunities you have to qualify leads, make sales calls, and close deals.
• REDUCED CUSTOMER ACQUISITION COSTS: The more customers you convert, the lower your acquisition cost per customer.
• VALUABLE PREDICTIVE DATA FOR CUSTOMER INSIGHTS: Attracting customers to your site and encouraging them to engage in a meaningful way gives you the data necessary to generate powerful insights into what customers want and what sells.
• CAPTURE MARKET SHARE AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION: The heavy hitters in your industry today won’t necessarily be the heavy hitters in your industry tomorrow. If you can collect these insights before they can by capturing a larger share of the market with your interactive experiences, you can be the first to deliver on the unique products and services your customers want most.
This is especially true in the following industries:
• AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY: Car buyers want to customize their vehicle, peek at its interior, view it in the context of different landscapes, and explore sub-surface details like its engine. In fact, it’s this inability to do so that’s created the biggest challenge to e-commerce car sales in North America. Automakers who embrace real-time 3D configurators and visualizers early will grab a hearty slice of the car e-commerce market.
• CONSTRUCTION & DEVELOPMENT INDUSTRY: Home buying is a highly emotional process. While there are lawyers, banks, and builders involved, people ultimately make a purchase based on where they see themselves living. This is a challenge for sellers of pre-construction homes, since they only have models or renderings to use. With an interactive and photoreal 3D streaming experience, homebuyers can walk through the proposed final product. Moreover, they can configure and customize everything from cabinets to countertops in real-time while interacting with a real estate agent, a family member, or a friend.
• LUXURY GOODS MARKET: Luxury goods buyers want to feel the texture of products like shoes, purses, and jewellery, see how they look under different lighting, and choose specific colours. They want to pick up the products, spin them around, and inspect them from different angles. A 3D configurator experience provides buyers with the opportunity to do this, and companies enjoy higher conversion rates. One luxury goods department store in Europe reported a 40 percent increase in conversion rates after creating a 3D catalogue of its products.
• BEAUTY PRODUCT TRIALS: The beauty industry presents another exciting opportunity to offer customized experiences at scale. Once you know your shade of lipstick or foundation, it’s easy to buy refills online, but this limits the e-commerce opportunities for beauty brands who want customers to experiment with new looks. 3D streaming technology allows brands to offer “virtual try-ons” that enable customers to demo different looks and shades directly from their phone before hitting “buy”.
MAXIMIZING OPPORTUNITIES TO ADD VALUE DURING SALES INTERACTIONS
When researchers Thomas Steenburgh and Michael Ahearne asked companies where their biggest revenue growth challenges lay, they pointed to their sales processes. They were great at inventing cool things but not at selling them. Obtaining significant ROI on multi-million-dollar R&D efforts meant communicating the benefits more effectively.
One of the great challenges that comes with seeing the future is helping everyone else to see it too. In fact, according to Steenburgh and Ahearne’s research, salespeople spend 35 percent more time meeting with customers during the new product sales cycle compared to the traditional product sales cycle. Since they need to spend time educating customers on how these products work - and also obtain buy-in from enterprise-wide stakeholders - they need to meet in person with a wider number of people.
With real-time 3D streaming, companies selling innovative products can deliver interactivity without the extra travel time and cost. With photorealistic 3D models streamed over the web, customers can interact with products more thoroughly. They also benefit from features they wouldn’t receive during an in-person meeting, like the ability to analyze sub-surface features.
USING 3D STREAMING TECHNOLOGY FOR INTERNAL ORGANIZATIONAL IMPROVEMENTS
Real-time 3D streaming capabilities offer exciting internal applications as well. In addition to cross-team collaboration, real-time 3D streaming also delivers significant cost savings in areas like employee training, online learning and development.
For instance, companies organizing industrial training programs often have to fly workers in; pay for their travel, and accommodations and time; bring in specialist trainers to facilitate workshops; and go to enormous lengths to replicate real-world scenarios without real-world risks.
Virtual reality simulations offer a more integrated experience that allows workers to explore real-world scenarios in oil and gas, transportation, and military contexts. That said, there are drawbacks. VR solutions still experience limitations due to bulky equipment and accessibility issues. It’s also a high-cost, but low mobility experience, effectively tethering employees to a dedicated workstation.
You can take similar real-time 3D content through cloud streaming and deliver it to any device or screen. This maximizes your employee reach and engagement for safety and training purposes while still producing significant savings.
How does interactive 3D streaming work and what should I be looking for in a fully managed solution?
Earlier, we mentioned Chevrolet’s Corvette configurator and how it experienced so much traffic it almost ground to a halt.
While this may sound like an expected hazard, it’s not a given. A seamless, uninterrupted, interactive 3D streaming process is possible. It just takes a more fully-managed approach.
You see, while interactive 3D streaming is now possible, it’s not necessarily easy. Dozens of interrelated processes must be managed to deliver a seamless experience. And the amount of expertise required to oversee all those processes properly is substantial, and at the moment, rather niche. So niche in fact that even the wealthiest multinationals would struggle to find that talent in-house.
Why is this the case? Well to understand the solution, it helps to take a glance at the complexity.
TAKING YOUR CAD MODELS FROM A TO Z
Before you start streaming anything, you need the raw material to make it all worthwhile. This starts with designing the necessary CAD models. And while computer-aided design tools like AutoCAD and Rhino 3D provide the structural integrity your models need, the resulting product is underwhelming for the senses.
Your model - whether they represent a building’s interior, a car, or a blowout preventer on an oil rig - needs to come to life. Shading, texture, maneuverability, and more are all required to animate a purely technical model, so that it can jump off the screen.
In the past, this was a rather labour-intensive process that required hours of manpower to produce a photorealistic rendering.
The good news is that game engines like Unreal and Unity have eliminated much of the tedium involved in 3D rendering.
The bad news is that using sophisticated game engines like Unreal and Unity requires a fair bit of expertise, especially for enterprise use cases. But the value of game engines - accelerated workflows for complex photorealistic 3D models - is unquestionable. Demand for employees with real-time 3D skills has grown 601 percent faster than the job market overall.
Building the infrastructure for your data intense models
Producing the 3D rendering is less than a quarter of the battle. Once you’ve created compelling content, sharing and distributing it at scale, it is an entirely different story.
In the history of streaming, two factors have consistently blocked its progression: data volume and data fidelity. When it showed up on the doorstep of audiophiles, they raised eyebrows over slow load times and poor sound quality. When it showed up on the doorstep of film lovers, they balked at the thought of waiting 24 hours to watch a movie online and settled for mail-order DVDs until better streaming options came along.
Today, the biggest challenge for any streaming network is figuring out how to deliver high-quality content non-stop to countless devices with varying computing power. It’s not hard, then, to imagine how challenging sharing enormous 3D data files at a high quality to a geographically dispersed network of people on a variety of devices would be What’s more, finding all the technical talent may not be enough. Even companies with the human resources to pull off such a project may not have the financial resources to match. Performing such a feat would require sophisticated, dedicated hardware, the likes of which would be too cost-prohibitive to supply to your entire team.
The thing is, 3D renderings require extensive computing power, specifically from your Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Your GPU executes the countless mathematical computations necessary to produce pictures and videos. The amount of GPU power required to provide a high fidelity, 3D experience is lightyears beyond the standard GPU that comes in most consumer computers and likely beyond the bounds of what your potential enterprise clients provide to their employees.
This is to say that even if you can afford content creation, funding content distribution is a whole different ball game.
Throw in the need to protect proprietary data and adhere to enterprise data protection standards, and you’re looking at a nightmarish pilot project headed for disaster.
What does a fully managed solution look like?
Fortunately, you don’t need to break the bank on high-powered GPUs any time soon. Cloud computing has completely revolutionized enterprise IT. Gone are the days when enterprise computing required enterprise data centers. In the cloud computing era, companies can outsource their computing infrastructure - and its required maintenance - to companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS).
But while this makes things cheaper, it doesn’t make things easier. Contractually, cloud computing providers like AWS or Microsoft Azure aren’t there to make sure your projects go off without a hitch - they’re there to make sure you have the infrastructure to support your projects (which will hopefully go off without a hitch).
Unclear? Consider your utility provider. The concept of a company building its own energy infrastructure to provide the lighting and heat needed to keep employees working seems crazy. Utility providers manage this, and in exchange, they collect a usage-based fee. But if you can’t change a commercial light bulb or the wrong wire gets cut and takes down your entire network, that’s not your utility provider’s problem. They’re just delivering the juice.
Conceptually, the same idea applies to cloud computing. Cloud services will not guarantee the execution of your 3D streaming projects. They’ll just provide the power to make them possible. It takes additional layers of management and talent to bridge the divide between raw computing power and interactive content, much like it takes layers of building maintenance technicians and IT specialists to use your utilities effectively.
The manpower needed to build or configure various services can be somewhat intimidating to the uninitiated. You’ll need people who can:
• Configure your chosen cloud solution (e.g., AWS, Azure)
• Handle the coordination of streaming session connections
• Schedule user sessions to available servers
• Orchestrate the dynamic scaling of servers to meet user demand
• Find a suitable streaming application or protocol that prioritizes security and protects your proprietary data
• Set up your chosen streaming application and train your team on how to use it
• Manage security and authentication, system monitoring and logging, fault tolerance, and more
And that’s just to get started. When it comes to keeping your project running, especially on that critical first day when issues are bound to crop up, you’ll want the right skill sets on your team. Specifically, you’ll want someone who knows how to keep your cloud computing usage efficient - and project it accordingly - so you don’t blow your project budget on costly upgrades mid-launch.
While all of these tasks present challenges to a 3D streaming project, it’s that last factor - cloud computing costs - that pose the biggest threat to your bottom line. Cloud computing is certainly cost-effective compared to building your own data center, but it can still add up and when you least expect it. When you’ve got millions of prospective customers tuned into your project, you don’t want to be stuck making a choice between a faulty experience and an expensive cloud computing upgrade. Hopefully, you’ll have a streaming system designed to withstand pressure from traffic spikes the way fully-managed services like PureWeb’s Reality product does.
The bottom line is that 3D streaming requires some impressive technology, and like most impressive technology, it takes a specialized skill-set and dedicated team.
How PureWeb delivers a fully managed real-time 3D streaming solution
At present, companies embarking on real-time 3D streaming projects get by with a medley of services from various vendors. Crossing the waters between the raw computing power on one side and your desired end product on the other can feel like a treacherous journey complicated by technical terminology, various requirements, and a flurry of unknown unknowns.
PureWeb links infrastructure to applications through its fully-elastic, microservice-based cloud platform. This platform sits atop various AWS web services, including G3 EC2 instances. The relationship with the cloud provider - as well as the associated configurations and implementations - are fully managed.
Following the set-up, a company’s 3D models are directly fed into PureWeb’s automated build pipeline. By integrating the PureWeb SDK into the 3D model, a ready-to-stream version of the model uploads directly to the cloud platform.
Next, PureWeb’s technology creates a deployment configuration for the model and makes critical determinations about deployment and capacity. Specifically, this means indicating which global AWS region should host the model as well as setting the elastic scaling policy.
Finally, the customer receives a URL for easy access to their streaming model and the ability to embed the 3D application onto any web page.
In essence, PureWeb manages everything that takes place between providing the 3D models and receiving a 3D streaming link. That’s an entire series of processes, configurations, and requirements planning, coordination, and more condensed, standardized, and packaged into a fully-managed service.
How do I wrap my head around cloud consumption and billing?
You’re convinced. Your business could seriously benefit from real-time 3D streaming. You want to amp up cross-team and cross-border collaboration, provide lead generating interactive experiences for your audience, or even train your employees with an interactive simulation they can access from anywhere. But you can’t help but ask:
How much is this all going to cost?
Cloud computing services are pay-as-you-use, after all. So, if you only have minimal needs, you’re looking at significant cost savings compared to setting up your own data center.
According to Forrester, building alone can cost roughly $200 per square foot. Installing fibre to get to your office? You’re looking at another $10,000 per mile.19 And don’t even get started thinking about the cost of maintenance and troubleshooting.
But if you have continuous cloud computing needs like sharing 3D models between teams or streaming to millions of viewers, you can’t help but be struck by the same fear texters in the early aughts faced: Am I going to be surprised with a massive bill at the end of the month?
What determines your bill?
Each cloud provider sets its own rates. These rates are set based on a combination of factors including:
• Physical Infrastructure: This includes networking hardware, cables, switches, and routers. The price billed to end-users is a function of how many gigabytes of network bandwidth the customer consumes.
• Maintenance: This includes maintenance, operation, and troubleshooting expenses.
• Computing Power: The customer’s usage profile determines how this is calculated, based on variables like memory, the number of virtual CPUs, GPU access, networking and storage performance, and more.
The bottom line is that the cost varies. However, there are ways to optimize your usage in much the same way consumers optimize their energy consumption by turning off unused lights or switching to energy-efficient bulbs.
A fully managed service provider, like PureWeb, provides the tools required to use cloud computing power efficiently and manage usage spikes without needing to instantly upgrade the number of cloud services required.
How would a fully managed streaming provider help you understand your costs?
A fully managed 3D streaming provider will ask you the right questions. They want to understand your enterprise’s traffic usage patterns. With the right information, they can offer flexible pricing options for each user engagement, which is a single interactive session launched by a user, regardless of how long it runs.
Specifically, they’ll do this by classifying you as a high usage enterprise or a low usage enterprise.
YOU SAVE MONEY ON USER ENGAGEMENTS WITH A FULLY MANAGED PROVIDER
A fully managed provider, that integrates at the application level instead of the operating system level, delivers added benefits. You can run multiple user engagements (about one to four) of the same application on the same server or GPU.
In other words, you pay one-fourth of the cost by running one concurrent user per server.
HOW DO COMPANIES MEASURE THE ROI OF CLOUD-BASED 3D STREAMING PROJECTS?
Measuring ROI may require calculations, but the process of finding that number is both an art and a science.
In some cases, it’s pretty straightforward. If your company requires intensive training and frequently flies out new employees to dedicated training sites, identifying the return on investment of streamed 3D training simulations is simple. It’s a matter of taking the cost of flying, housing, and training employees over a fixed period of time and comparing it to the cost of delivering simulated training experiences online.
For marketing projects, it’s a little more challenging. To get the most of these projects - and properly document revenue attribution - a little more upfront work is required. So before embarking on a 3D streaming based marketing initiative, be sure to do the following:
1. Define your project’s objectives.
Before you can measure success, you need to define it. What objectives are you trying to meet through a content project, and how will you quantify them? For instance, is the goal to triple the traffic to your brand’s website or is this project only justifiable if you can increase your qualified leads by 40 percent? Not only does defining your project objectives give you clarity, but it also allows you to secure buy-in from senior stakeholders. If you move forward on the assumption that increasing traffic is the goal while others expect numbers on lead generation, it’ll undermine the success of your project outcome.
2. Obtain a clear view of your present state to contextualize future results.
If you want to attribute revenue to your interactive 3D content project correctly, you’ll need a proper understanding of your current revenue attribution ratios. It would be a mistake to assume you already have this. For instance, do you currently know your conversion percentage from web visits/interactions to engagement to sales conversation to purchase? Do you have a clear definition of these variables (e.g., is engagement a discussion with a potential customer or simply a download from your website)? Do you know how much it currently costs, based on your marketing pipeline, to generate customers and acquire leads? Without a clear understanding of your current marketing and sales pipeline that clearly accounts for marketing activities, it will be difficult to quantify how much money you’ve saved and the revenue you’ve generated after implementing a 3D content project. Even if an increase in sales appears obvious, standing up to the scrutiny of other stakeholders who wish to attribute that increase to their own product team or sales team will be challenging without hard data to back up your claims.
3. Shift the revenue attribution paradigm.
Stop thinking in terms of sales qualified leads and start thinking in terms of marketing qualified leads. As far as your team is concerned, marketing is not a cost center - it’s a revenue generator. Making this an accepted view outside the marketing team comes down to a paradigm shift, particularly when it comes to defining qualified leads. Traditionally, marketing passes leads on to sales, sales has a conversation with the lead, and then sales determines whether it’s a sales qualified lead (SQL) or not. Instead, marketing teams should define anything passed on to the sales team as a marketing qualified lead (MQL), and capture the conversion rates of those MQL
4. Track the sales cycle to link revenue back to your 3D streaming projects.
Of course, your sales cycle needs time to play out before you can meaningfully attribute revenue to your 3D streaming projects. But if you’ve conducted step two, when your next sales cycle plays out after the implementation of your project, you can link revenue from those sales directly back to your 3D streaming initiative.
DON’T FORGET TO ACCOUNT FOR LABOUR COSTS - THEY AREN’T SUNK!
At the beginning of this section, we mentioned areas where identifying ROI is rather easy, namely training projects. And it’s true: Measuring ROI when you’re talking about eliminating the cost of countless airline tickets and hotel rooms is much easier than re-analyzing your marketing pipeline to understand conversion ratios over the past 12 months. But that doesn’t mean companies should settle for reporting on surface-level cost savings. For instance, additional analysis can reveal potential labour cost savings. Enterprises often view staffing as a sunk cost. You’re paying a certain amount of people fixed salaries each year; therefore, that money is considered gone. But when quantifying the labour hours spent on specific tasks like coordinating meetings, sharing data with customers during sales calls, or training workers off site, it’s clear that there are additional costs savings since labour hours can be used more efficiently.
What lessons can new adopters learn from early enterprise users?
Sure, there are benefits to being an early adopter, but there are still advantages to letting others go first — such as the chance to learn from their mistakes.
Enterprises eager to take on real-time 3D streaming projects would be wise to keep the following lessons in mind when it’s their turn to take a swing.
SET ASTRONOMICAL EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR PROJECT'S SUCCESS RATE
Thinking this way also sets your project up for functional success. If you go into your streaming project with underwhelming numbers, your projections for server capacity will be underwhelming as well. As a result, your system will be unprepared for the sudden increase in traffic should it experience wild success. Interactive 3D content experiences are still few and far between meaning companies that offer them early will get the lion’s share of engagement.
How can you set yourself up for success?
Work with a fully-managed 3D streaming provider that can give you an estimate of how much computing power you’ll need. The right partner will also give you access to proprietary tools that manage your GPU usage efficiently so that an increase in engagement doesn’t slow down the experience.
COMMIT TO ENSURING A CONSISTENT 3D EXPERIENCE
The point of offering a 3D experience is that it isn’t 2D. Reverting to a 2D experience dilutes the power of your interactive content. While PureWeb certainly has the ability to revert your content to a 2D experience in a worst-case scenario, our platform is designed to maintain a high fidelity, 3D content stream during high and low traffic.
How can you set yourself up for success?
Partnering with the right provider for your 3D streaming needs gives you access to a streaming system built on best practices. Their team can deploy multiple users to the same high-performance GPUs, which provides further cost-efficiencies as your usage scales up.
RECOGNIZE THAT YOU’LL NEED A DEDICATED TEAM DURING SET UP AND EXECUTION
There isn’t a project on earth that hasn’t experienced bugs on go-live day. Even the seemingly seamless ones had the right people to respond quickly before anyone noticed. Plan to have people on board to handle any potential troubleshooting. Without the right technical talent on board, a small hitch can lead to a big fiasco.
How can you set yourself up for success?
Work with a fully-managed provider. In addition to possessing the technical talent to troubleshoot during setup or project launch, a fully-managed team should have the pre-established relationships required for fast response times.
Every big tech revolution has its winners. Will you be one of them?
Today’s organizations may span continents, but the need for close communication and engagement is more urgent than ever. While messaging apps like Slack provide a solution for cross-functional and cross-border communication, there’s a greater need for more immersive, interactive experiences so that collaborative tools keep up with innovative potential.
A real-time 3D experience provides this power. But as we’ve demonstrated, there is no off-the-shelf solution available if you want to do this right. You trust an expert third party to manage to wire your building so your computers run off the city’s power grid. Similarly, you should trust an expert to manage your 3D streaming solution to run off cloud services.
You focus on generating value when you entrust the streaming process to the right partner. Design an immersive walkthrough for your real estate clients. Develop interactive training modules for your employees around the world. Generate hype by offering car fans mind-blowing configurator experiences.
Every big technology revolution has its winners and losers. The winners are the companies who see the future and do everything in their power to remain relevant. Interactive streaming platforms will be how tomorrow’s companies communicate, collaborate, and share their new products. Will you be one of them?