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Media Management, Part 1: Technologies for Corporate and Educational Applications

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For years, The IT industry has been bandying about the term "convergence," meaning the merger of computer networking and media technologies. Well, convergence has finally arrived: Several systems are available that are geared directly toward media management. This article is part 1 of a two-part series in which we take a look at some of the media management technologies for corporate and educational applications. In part 2, we'll take a look at the scaled-down versions of these technologies emerging for the home market.
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Suppose your division of the company is producing training documentation for a new business process to be rolled out in the next quarter. You've spent a lot of time developing great training materials, including a fantastic videotape that will allow satellite offices to enjoy the same training session as the home office, without the expense of flying a corporate trainer to Timbuktu and back. Now comes the question: How do you distribute that training video?

Sure, you can copy the tape and ship the copies via FedEx. But then you'll need NTSC versions of the tape as well as PAL versions. Not to mention that VHS just doesn't look very good. No problem—DVD technology is here, and you can create DVDs to ship.

But as the word of your project gets out, the CEO has a great idea: Anyone in the company should be able to access the video and complete the training on his or her own schedule—worldwide training on demand.

Then you get a call from another department. They loved the preview you sent out. In fact, they want to use part of your video in a training program they're putting together for partners, but they need to edit out the sensitive internal information.

Suddenly you're swamped with work, all related to the distribution and reuse of that award-winning training session. Or presentation. Or internal communication piece. The type of content doesn't really matter—the result is the same: You need a media management solution.

Introduction to Media Management

The amount of information we consume today is staggering. Between print, radio, television, and the Internet, we're surrounded by messages in a variety of formats, all vying for our attention.

As the amount of media that we produce and archive increases, we need new tools to deal with the massive amounts of data, as well as compressing/converting it into various formats for various uses; finally, we need some way of cataloging and retrieving relevant media elements for various uses.

Corporate users have a variety of needs related to media management. Companies may want to distribute internal training and communications videos, as well as corresponding PowerPoint presentations or Excel documents. Imagine a presentation by the CEO, accessible to the entire corporation worldwide, viewable on PCs, Macs, or on DVD, and with the CEO's PowerPoint presentation playing side-by-side with his speech. That's not the future; it's available now.

This technology is even more powerful in the education arena. Imagine being able to provide lectures and courses to remote areas, or sharing a guest speaker at regional campuses, or having an archive of a class that can be offered for continuing education courses to professionals, via the web. The possible applications are astonishing.

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