Q&A with Nick Barber, Sr. Analyst with Forrester Research on Employee Experience

We were given a chance to ask a few questions to Nick Barber, senior analyst with Forrester Research, on video and how it relates to the employee experience. Here’s what Nick had to say based on his research around enterprise video technology.

Question:  Driving genuine employee engagement is universally acknowledged as important. What techniques have you seen work best for Forrester clients in engaging their employees?

Saying that employee engagement is important and showing it are two different things. Creating a comprehensive employee engagement program requires the support of multiple departments and the C-suite. One component of the effort involves using video to connect employees, flatten the organizational structure, and enhance collaboration between geographically dispersed teams. In a recent Forrester survey, 88% of respondents told us video is crucial for their company’s ability to foster corporate culture.[i] Many companies already produce live CEO or manager town hall meetings where all employees can join the meeting in real time and ask questions. You don’t need a fancy studio and expensive equipment for this; it could be done with a webcam or smartphone camera at the start. The key is creating a human connection across the organization, and video is perfectly positioned to provide that.

Question:  Is there a difference between employee experience and employee engagement? Some define experience as focusing on individual experiences versus collective engagement; do you agree? How does experience apply to video?

Employee engagement is a component of the whole employee experience. And we at Forrester know that great employee experiences create great customer experiences. When it comes to enterprise video, we have to keep in mind that we’re all consumers first; we enjoy the high-quality experiences of video streaming services at home, and that has raised the bar for employee communications. Video experiences at work should include high quality audio and video, interactive features like polls, audience questions, and moderated Q&A, and recommendations for related and follow-on content. Sure, company meetings are different from the latest Netflix series, but enterprises can still adopt the best practices that we see in the consumer space.

Question:  What are the most common challenges you hear from clients regarding employee engagement or accessibility to HR or Corporate Communications?

Definitely the ability to find content. Through the use of popular consumer tools we’ve all become accustomed to easy-to-use, intuitive interfaces that get us to what we need quickly and easily. Enterprises need to rise to meet those consumer-level experiences. When it comes to the depth of content available across the business, getting workers to the right content quickly and efficiently is a big challenge. With better understanding of video content via AI and transcription, workers get to the right point inside the right video, which saves them time and makes the more productive.

Question:  Do you see a rise in people working remotely? How does this play into corporate culture or employee engagement?

Definitely! Nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents in the 2019 Forrester Global Workforce Recontact Survey say they collaborate with remote colleagues daily.[ii] Thanks to technology, employees are more mobile now than ever before. This means that enterprises can’t expect that employees will all be in a central office for a big announcement. They might not even be in a satellite office, but rather on-the-go in an airport or at a client site. With increased mobility, employees expect great experiences across a range of devices. Make sure video—whether live or on demand—is available and optimized for viewing on mobile devices.

Question:  How can companies pro-actively provide accommodations for employees with disabilities related to accessing corporate communications?

One key capability that companies should leverage to make employee communications more accessible is the ability to auto-transcribe or auto-caption video content. What this means is that an AI engine “listens” to the video and automatically converts the speech in the video to text content. With some video platforms, this can even happen with live video and, for example, a CEO town hall meeting could be auto-captioned in real time. In addition to enabling search, these captions help people with disabilities as well as those whose first language might not be English.

Question:  How prevalent or commonplace is one-to-many video in corporate communications nowadays? Is adoption similar across industries and company types?

Most companies in verticals like financial services, healthcare, and hi-tech are using live or on-demand video to connect with employees, deliver training, and enhance employee experience. We see increased interest in spaces like manufacturing and retail. For example, video is a great medium to offer additional training to retail associates who might be on the floor at a specific location.

Question:  How big of a factor is accessibility in these video solutions?

Accessibility presents a growing opportunity; for example, approximately 1 in 6 Americans report some trouble hearing.[iii] Whether the videos are being viewed by a person with a disability, an employee who might speak a different language, or someone who might not be in a location where video with sound is appropriate, accessibility is an increasingly important factor.

Question:  What impact has the adoption of mobile communications had on corporate video communications?

Millennials, who make up most of the workforce now, use more than four connected devices on a daily basis. This means they’re switching from a phone, to a tablet, to a laptop, and maybe a smart TV. Creating a consistent, high quality experience across all of these devices is key to driving adoption. Particularly with mobile devices, enterprises must deliver high quality video on the go. By augmenting this video with real-time captioning generated by AI, more employees will be able to consume the video content regardless of their location or situation.

Question:  As companies embrace video, they can sometimes hit challenges in the form of scaling these activities: from curating content to managing growing video libraries where employees have a hard time finding what they need. What advice can you share in this area?

It’s all about the metadata. In order to successfully organize and curate video content, you need to know what’s inside this “dark data.” By understanding what people are saying in the video, who is in the video, key topics discussed and other attributes, the video platform can start to create a web of related video content. In the past, this has been a key challenge since people tend to get lazy and skip filling in metadata. Fortunately, there are options to use AI capabilities to enhance metadata automatically.

Question:  How have companies started to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning as it relates to workplace communications?

AI is uniquely positioned to unlock the dark data that hides in enterprise videos. One simple way of doing this is to begin auto-transcribing video content in order to enable employees to search large libraries of content with ease. Auto-transcription means that employees can get to the right point inside the right video instead of watching a two-hour long company meeting. AI can also identify people in videos and can curate the content accordingly. So, for example, all of the company meetings that include an update from the CFO might be grouped together around the topic of financial performance.

Question:  Have you seen any blunders with AI adoption related to enterprise video? Any lessons you can share from early adopters to help others looking to implement?

Auto-transcription of video content is great with regular conversation, but it stumbles with difficult names, technical terms, and abbreviations. But companies can help train AI solutions by feeding the engine it’s corporate directory, for example, so that it can better transcribe specific names. General business documentation like sales literature can help the AI engine acquire what’s called domain expertise. These are the terms and phrases that might be unique to healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, or other industries.

About Nick Barber

Nick Barber serves Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) Professionals. He specializes in video technologies, including live and on-demand video within the enterprise and for customer experiences. His research centers on how companies can use online video platforms for sales and marketing operations and how they can enhance their business using video collaboration and video conferencing.

Prior to joining Forrester, Nick was the director of online video at IDG News Service, where he was a technology news journalist serving IDG’s global network of websites. He helped build IDG’s global video presence from both a content and technology perspective, and he produced thousands of videos on a range of enterprise and consumer topics.


[i] Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of IBM, January & August 2017. Base: 200 US corporate communications and marketing decision-makers at enterprises with 1000+ employees.

[ii] Base: 7264 Information workers who communicate or collaborate with co-workers in a typical work week; Source: Business Technographics Global Workforce Recontact Survey, 2019​

[iii] Source: NIH, Forrester Business Technographics Global Workforce Benchmark Survey, 2019​