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Using video search technology for business intelligence

Richard Herschel

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Given the experiences of email and website development, there is every reason to expect that organizations and their employees can and will eventually fully exploit video for internal and external information sharing on a large scale. This means that employers need to realize that their employees may now or may eventually be creating and posting video information that is both relevant to and not relevant to workplace activities. This potential screams for the creation and imposition of standards for the development and sharing of employee videos. Moreover, because these videos may sometimes provide important content needed for decision making, business intelligence efforts will need to be expanded to include activities that help organizations find, examine, exploit or even delete video content.

Video and Sensemaking

Video can play a critical role in sensemaking activities. Videos provide a rich medium for information sharing, and they have been shown to be particularly useful in eliciting tacit knowledge. Videos display actions and they can therefore be used to demonstrate how things need to be done.

However, to ensure their effectiveness, firms need to monitor the purpose behind employee-generated videos, examine the message being conveyed, evaluate how it is or will be crafted, understand who the intended audience is and consider how it reflects on the firm’s image. In essence then, organizations will need to screen video creation and sharing activities to ensure that video content is accurate, that it does not violate organizational or community standards, and that there is no content that infringes upon copyrights.

This presents a daunting challenge for firms, and the vast majority of them have no idea what video content is being generated and shared by their employees. And even if some firms have developed policies for video generation and sharing by their employees, many have not implemented a mechanism for actually policing this activity.

Firms should consider developing and employing a business intelligence capability that gives them the ability to effectively scrutinize video activity. That is, organizations should develop or acquire substantial filtering and search tools to help employees find useful video content for information sharing and decision making and to aid the firm in identifying and eliminating instances of copyright infringement or other types of video content that can be potentially be compromising.

Video Search Technology for Business Intelligence

Video files, including employee-generated videos, need to be cataloged and indexed so that employees can use enterprise and/or mobile search engines to ask for and secure video content meeting user-specified criteria. Sensemaking requires the provision of capabilities for retrieving a list of enterprise videos that match user search criteria and that are sorted with respect to some measure of relevance.

Because video clips are more ephemeral than web pages, it is harder for traditional search engines to assess any clip’s relevance to a search query. Image and video content upload systems typically rely on simple techniques such as asking the user to file the image under a category, or to click a set of checkboxes of descriptive tags, or to type in a one-sentence description that can later be automatically parsed by the system to generate detailed metadata. The problem is that the requests for metadata are inefficient, oftentimes inaccurately reflecting the true video content and overburdening users by having them upload megabytes of images and video information that may or not be relevant to their informational needs.

As users capture and share more images, the need for new and innovative search labeling services becomes essential. To that end, piXlogic has developed an enterprise search engine for images and videos. It is based on automatic indexing of the contents of the image without the need for any manually input textual metadata. piXlogic uses a concept called “notions” that are interpreted understandings about the context of the image and the objects in it and it has created a contextually rich and accurate search environment that exploits this. To catalog a repository of images or videos, the user points piXlogic’s piXserve application software to that repository (or uses a web crawler to collect images), and it automatically indexes the content of those files. Through a browser, users can then search using an image and/or point to one or more items in the image that are of interest to them. The software can also see and recognize any text that may appear anywhere in the field of view of the image (e.g., picking out names of recruitment candidates, knowledge videos and experts, and other online video resources). Where most image and video search technologies work by trying to match image signatures that are based on simple concepts such as textual labels, color histograms, texture, or edges, for example, piXserve literally “sees” the image as being composed of many objects, creates a representation describing the objects, and stores them in a database.

When there is video-based content that may be important for instructional or decision-making purposes, piXserve representations can be searched, thereby facilitating the ability to identify their relevance to the issue(s) at hand.

piXlogic provides an event alerting and notification feature that allows it to send out notices when it detects a particular object, text string, or notion within an image or video. This means that organizations can set up piXlogic servers to automatically search through incoming streams of images and video to find specific actions or objects and then respond to that information automatically. The response might be a simple e-mail notification or a more complex event processing activity, such as carrying out a database operation, or alerting the company of potential copying of copyrighted content from an external source.

Another company also offers new video searching capabilities. Their product, xtreme Knowledge Sharing 5.0, provides a word-by-word search capability of video and audio content via the software’s generation of an automatic transcript of the source content. Users can search the video transcript and find the exact point of interest they need to be able to jump to the exact slide or sentence in the video. The product incorporates the following capabilities:

  • Socializes enterprise computing by capturing social networking features such as searchable video, podcasts, blogs, wikis and RSS, and brings them inside the enterprise to create an enterprise collaboration, knowledge sharing and on-demand information platform.

  • Video synch and search allows workers to search video down to the spoken word to get just the right information instantly.

  • Enables the creation of video learning portals to share the corporate knowledge captured from video training, meetings, conferences, PowerPoint presentations and more – making thousands of hours of expert knowledge searchable and accessible down to the spoken word.

A product with this capability could be used to search videos for relevant instructional or decision-making content. It might also be used to discover materials that potentially violate copyrights, but that process would probably be complex and extremely time-consuming.

Another possibility is that firms may eventually be able to subscribe to external search tools such as Google’s Video Identification system, Auditude’s video fingerprinting technology or Viacom’s video search tools to evaluate their internal video content for copyright infringements. However, the potential for subscribing to these services is currently uncertain.

Placing video under the domain of business intelligence may seem rather odd, until one considers the potential impact of video generation and sharing on the firm. Gartner defines business intelligence as a set of concepts and methods to improve business decision making by using fact-based support systems. Videos have the capacity to incorporate substantial and meaningful content that can impact decision making. The role for business intelligence in the firm should be expanded to include developing methods for finding important and relevant information in video content, facilitating the use of video content in decision-making activities, and/or in aiding the firm by examining video activity and identifying content that may expose the firm to potential liability.


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