Automating Workflow and Services

Automating Workflow and Services

There is a famous quote that goes something like, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." In my view, the more accurate description is, "Insanity is doing the same repeatable things over and over and over and over."

Why all of this chatter about insanity? As a solutions engineer, I constantly evaluate workflows; and, the success or failure of a specific workflow dramatically influences the day-to-day experience of my customers. The automation of your Brightcove Video Cloud workflow can ensure that critical tasks are not accompanied by frustration.

Automating upload
Let's start with the acquisition of video content. Content can come from a multitude of sources. For example, many organizations create their own original video content in house. At the same time, many companies outsource a large portion of their content creation efforts to agencies. Additionally, video content is often licensed through third parties.

Whether your organization creates or curates--or a combination of the two--there is often a great deal of work that needs to be done to gather up video files and the video's descriptive metadata from various sources and then ingest them into Video Cloud. Here are some ideas on how some of the customers I work with have streamlined this operation:

Gathering files internally

Do you spend a lot of time chasing internal groups around for content? Are there clunky workflows in place that involve FTP directories and Excel spreadsheets? If so, this one is for you. The best way to gather up files from internal groups is to create an uploading application for them. This is really just a glorified Web form which provides your internal users a destination to submit videos and video metadata. Using Video Cloud's FTP Batch Provisioning or Media API, these uploading applications can submit the video content directly to your Video Cloud account to be processed and transcoded with all required metadata. This removes the extra step of gathering content beforehand and then ingesting into Video Cloud.

An added benefit of this approach is the enforcement of good metadata practices. Are you struggling to enforce your organization's content taxonomy structure? (For more on this, check out my buddy Ricky's post here.) Is there required data that content creators MUST provide for each video asset? Well, then force the entry of these data fields in the upload application! Provide drop down selectors with pre-determined data categories. Use multi-select fields to prevent user error with typos. These forms can be as simple or complex as desired but they are a great opportunity to enforce your taxonomy and to stop receiving videos from content sources entitled “video_0003421421!”

Gathering files from agencies

To extend this concept a bit further, many organizations receive a lot of content from agencies, partners or other outside organizations. The upload application above is 100 percent applicable here. I’d add one typical requirement though; if the uploader application will be accessible by external parties, there will generally need to be some authentication on the Web form. You wouldn’t want just anybody who stumbled upon the uploader be able to submit videos.

Content exchange
Content exchange is ideal if your organization is looking to augment its content library with additional high-quality content. Brightcove has launched the Content Exchange allowing Brightcove Video Cloud customers the ability to connect directly with content partners for content curation and licensing. These integrations are already built allowing for "push button" sharing of media content directly into your Video Cloud accounts.

Automating publishing
Smart Playlists

If approached manually, you can expend tremendous amounts of effort on the publishing and distribution side of your digital content strategy. By far, the lowest hanging fruit to easily enhance your publishing workflow is to deploy playlists within your Video Cloud ecosystem. These playlists can be dynamically driven by keywords or tags as part of your organization’s taxonomy strategy. Picture this: content flows into your Video Cloud account(s) from a multitude of origination points, all with video content tagged appropriately per your taxonomy rules. This content then gets transcoded into multiple renditions (for delivery to desktop, smartphone, tablet, etc.) and then pushed out automatically to all appropriate end point destinations: main properties, microsites, sister or partner sites, YouTube, etc., all without any human interaction. Sounds nice, right?

Templatized players - reference ID

Player publishing can also be automated. This is especially powerful in situations where you'll have many video players embedded throughout your Web property such as contextual players in articles or product display pages. The trick here is realizing that the only element that needs to change in your Video Cloud player embeds is the video or reference ID. While admittedly technical, this is a good article to start visualizing the process: Assigning Content to Players Programmatically.

So, in this scenario, you'll build a player (or players) in Video Cloud and customize to your liking. Then, use this player template as your base player in your HTML page templates. When building article or product pages, you’ll only need to pass in the video ID or reference ID to the appropriate content. If you have already integrated Video Cloud with your CMS or e-commerce software, this is even easier.


Finally, creating MRSS feeds to distribute and syndicate your content libraries to partners is a "no brainer." These feeds are highly customizable and easy to create so it is not unreasonable to have a unique feed for each partner in your ecosystem. This will give you fine-grained control over which content is distributed to which partners and platforms and allows you to end individual partnerships with the click of a button. To begin investigating all of the possibilities that exist with MRSS, I recommend starting here: Creating MRSS FEEDS for Distribution.

I know this was extremely high-level and I did a fair amount of hand waving; but, there is just no way to cover this broad topic to any amount of detail in a single blog post. I wanted this post to be more about raising awareness to the possibilities out there for increased efficiency and rapid video publishing and distribution. If you feel the insanity levels rising with your own workflows, it might be time to reach out to your friendly Brightcove account manager to start discussing strategies to make your life easier.