Just how popular has video become? For one, the video platform Zoom has essentially become a verb as people make plans to “Zoom”—i.e., have a video call. Of course, there are many different video services out there to choose from these days. Google Hangouts is a great way to, well, hangout. Houseparty allows you to play games with your friends. Netflix even has a video conferencing platform that lets you watch and chat about shows with a group of friends.
While these video conferencing tools are great ways for us to interact and socialize, they are not really designed for serious uses, like doctor visits or remote education. Understandably, when the sudden shift to remote work became a reality, many companies looked to off-the-shelf video tools they could easily deploy. But these video solutions often lead to further challenges. Zoom recently ran into some widely publicized security issues, which have left many businesses rethinking how they use video to conduct business.
For more serious use cases that demand communications be done in a highly regulated and secure environment, programmable video is critical.
What is Programmable Video?
You can think of programmable video as a building block. With it, you can weave video into an existing solution—such as a customer facing mobile app—or build entirely new services that tailor video to your exact needs.
On the other hand, off-the-shelf video conferencing tools require that you fit in with their ways of working.
Telemedicine is a great example of the value programmable video brings. Let’s start with the legal requirements. In the United States, HIPAA sets strict security and confidentiality requirements. Off-the-shelf video conferencing tools built for business conferencing just aren’t set up for that kind of compliance.
With a video API that is HIPAA compliant, such as Vonage’s Video API, a team of developers can easily create a customized solution that puts compliance first.
But it’s not just about security and privacy. A custom telehealth solution built using programmable video can plug back into the insurer’s benefits platform or the healthcare provider’s medical records system. That enables value-added functionality such as live, automated transcripts saved directly to the patient’s records. In the near future, AI-powered virtual assistants will even be able to listen to the conversation and pull out relevant details from that patient’s history in real-time to assist the physician.
Custom, video-centric tools are appearing in businesses of all types. One of the oldest learning institutions in the world, Cambridge University, is taking all its lectures online until at least 2021. With programmable video, they could create an education solution that does away with the awkward screen sharing of off-the-shelf tools and instead center the experience around the learning materials. Or, how about conducting a mortgage interview with a bank where the applicant’s forms, identification, and financial history are right there in the tool used by the bank teller?
But, Is It Easy?
If off-the-shelf tools are a poor fit for, let’s face it, just about every use case other than straightforward business chats, then why use them at all? Let’s be honest. Building a custom tool sounds hard.
The beauty of working with programmable video is that the hard part—streaming live video in a safe and reliable way—is already taken care of. At Vonage, our APIs are loved by developers for their ease of use, integration with their favorite programming languages, and dependability.
So, the question comes down to this: Do you want an off-the-shelf tool tomorrow that fails to meet expectations or do you want a long-term solution that lets you deliver market disrupting functionality tailored precisely to your customers’ needs?
Why It Matters
While a great majority of the world’s daily life is disrupted, almost every organization is looking for ways to take their business online. It’s likely that we’ll look back in 10 years and recognize these few months in the Spring of 2020 as an inflection point.
Some teams will take this opportunity to transform how they conduct business. They will be the ones who find new routes to market, devise more efficient ways of satisfying their customers, and create something for the long-term. Then, there’ll be the companies who use off-the-shelf conferencing tools that will keep them going just long enough until lockdowns, quarantines, and stay-at-home orders end.
Programmable video is about more than finding a way to get through the pandemic. Instead, it is a realignment in how we bring experiences to customers. While your competitors struggle on with badly fitting off-the-shelf tools, a tailored solution built using programmable video will help you improve conversion, retention, and satisfaction.