Microsoft Stream and Best-of-Breed Video Management Platforms

When evaluating a content management platform for your company’s onboarding, training, sales enablement, or internal communications efforts, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by options. While many seem similar on the surface, once implemented, you may find key functionalities missing or worse, encounter a difficult user experience. That’s why we’re putting together a series of blog posts to help guide you in your solution evaluation process. Today, we’ll be talking about Microsoft Stream.

At first glance, Microsoft’s Stream offering seems attractive, especially if offered at no cost as part of a bundle with Office 365 (note: it’s not actually free. Users have noted that you need to get Office 365 licensing for administrator accounts before you can manage Stream). But when looking into the ability to store, organize and share video and other dynamic content, it makes sense to take a closer look at what specific functionality is available.

Native Recording Tools and Support for External Content

Video platforms often feature a range of bells and whistles, but often core functionalities like native recording are missing. This is a problem since it forces users to either purchase another tool to complement the solution or requires someone on your team have sophisticated video production knowledge.

In the past, uploading original video content to Microsoft Stream was complicated and cumbersome at best. Today, they have fully-integrated recording tools.

Similarly, CircleHD enables users to upload any previously created media like video to the platform, but it also offers support for slides, text content, and audio files like podcasts. Since the solution has built-in audio and video recording tools, users are able to produce, upload, and share new content in a matter of minutes without the need for any extra production tools.

But unlike Microsoft Stream, CircleHD’s platform offers a wide range of support for both internal and external content. Not only does the platform support importing video directly from YouTube and 243 other sources, but it also lets you go beyond uploading so you can share media with audiences outside of your organization. That means partners, customers, and other cohorts are able to receive your content should you wish to distribute it, whether for training, sales, marketing purposes–or something else. 


We all know that it isn’t enough to just create new content, you also need an effective way to store it.

Both Microsoft Stream and CircleHD allow you to create public and private channels where your files can be hosted, but the latter is a little more flexible. While Stream has no way to disable a user’s ability to add and remove videos from company-wide channels, CircleHD encourages administrators to take ownership of the platform’s channel settings. This means you have the option to curate content yourself or, alternatively, grant permissions to department leaders so they may customize it based on the team’s needs and goals.


While Channels are a great way to sort content, sometimes, they don’t go far enough. Most organizations need the ability to order and sequence content for optimum training purposes, not just the ability to save it in a particular bucket. That’s where playlists come in.

CircleHD allows users to sort video, slide, and podcast content into playlists, similar to YouTube–a basic function that is not available in Stream. If you’re looking for your content management platform to serve any sort of training or onboarding purpose, this feature is a must-have, as it makes creating custom courses simple and intuitive.

Quizzes, Gamification and Certification

Studies have shown that 65 percent of information is forgotten just seven days after a training session. After six months, that number jumps to 90 percent. But these stats aren’t unique to training–they also apply to all-hands meetings, department sync ups, sales seminars, and more. Incorporating video is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to encouraging knowledge retention across your organization–you should also be incorporating quizzes to fight against information loss.

Microsoft offers this capability, but not natively: you’ll need to use their Forms product in tandem. This might be a roadblock for the typical user who just wants to pair a simple test with content.

By contrast, CircleHD lets you create quizzes directly on the platform and easily integrate it with your content–whether it’s a standalone piece or part of a training track. Some other companion features include the ability to generate certificates upon the completion of a course and the option to enable a leaderboard for those teams that are particularly driven by healthy competition (we’re looking at you, sales).

It’s possible some of these functions may someday be added to the Microsoft Stream roadmap, and perhaps later released. Until then, it may make sense for your organization to go with a more comprehensive video management platform if you’re looking for these particular features.


It’s today’s world, it’s not enough to just produce great video content, you also need to make sure it’s accessible to everyone in your organization. While both Stream and CircleHD have automatic transcription tools, CircleHD supports multiple closed-captioning for video, letting end-users upload video with captions in multiple languages. 

Access Controls

Permissions for content can create additional security concerns for enterprises. After all, you want to be sure that sensitive information isn’t leaked and is only being shared with your intended recipients. Both Microsoft Stream and CircleHD have admin management features for videos and channels, as well as the ability to make content private, but CircleHD allows you to restrict your content to certain groups or individuals. You can also use active directory groups and HRIS attributes, such as department and cost center names, to limit access to a specific audience.

CircleHD’s access control settings

Interestingly, in Stream, there is no feature to securely share videos and other content with third parties like partners and customers, something CircleHD is able to do without sacrificing security.

Content Discovery

Did you know sales reps spend close to 43 hours every month searching for information? That’s over 500 hours a year. Even if you’re not in sales, chances are, you spend a lot more time than you’d like looking for documents and other information. Imagine what you could get done if you got even a fraction of that time back? That’s why it’s so critical to ensure your content management platform has a user-interface that makes search quick, easy, and intuitive. CircleHD makes search easier with tags, metadata, and custom fields so you can set your own classification parameters.

A great feature both platforms have is the ability to search channels and videos using intelligent speech to text transcription capabilities. This means you are able to find where specific words and phrases occur in your content. No more wondering, “who said that?”

Reporting and Analytics

Reporting is an area where many solutions often fall short but it’s such a critical component of communications success. After all, if you don’t know how people are engaging with your content, it’s impossible to have a full understanding of how to iterate and pivot your strategy to achieve your goals.

Stream has access to likes, views, and comments data, but not much else. CircleHD has a robust analytics suite with built-in employee segmentation and KPI tools so you get key insights like who is viewing your content, when they are viewing it, for how long, and more. Their playlist analytics can also track if employees are viewing your content alongside a quiz when it’s assigned, and let you see how team members are progressing.

Since CircleHD’s reporting capabilities are so extensive and able to give administrators a detailed picture of department and employee-level engagement, enterprises are able to clearly see the ROI of video usage across the organization. 

Integration with Cloud Web Conferencing

Recording and managing online meetings and webinars is fast becoming one of the main use cases for video content. While many platforms claim they integrate with the top conferencing solutions, the way they integrate can have big impacts on usability.

Of course, Microsoft Stream supports its own proprietary webcast solutions, but it seems these days, everyone has their own preference for which platform to use. Even if you use a Microsoft product for some of your webcasts, your recorded Zoom, Slack, WebEx, and GoToMeeting sessions will not be auto-saved to your Stream repository.

By contrast, CircleHD has native integrations that support all of these platforms (as well as over 200 other integrations…but that’s for another time), which can be a life-saver when it comes to keeping all your recordings (and sanity) in one place.


You might be thinking, “All these features are great, but what’s it going to cost me?”

The good news is that CircleHD is actually one of the most competitively-priced solutions on the market today, with user seats coming in at a mere $4.99 per person plus custom pricing for larger enterprises. The standard business plan gets you a whopping TB of bandwidth per month and 4 TB’s of storage.

By contrast, Microsoft Stream can get pretty pricey. According to their website, “Microsoft Stream includes a base amount of storage. A Microsoft Stream tenant receives a fixed allocation of 500 GB of storage and an additional 0.5 GB of storage per licensed user…Additional Microsoft Stream storage is available for purchase separately.”

And the costliness of Stream has not gone unnoticed with multiple posts on their own forum commenting on it, including this one: “I was reviewing [the storage page] to explain Storage in Stream to a colleague and why some organizations disable uploads to Stream.  I was also shocked when I read that an additional 500 GB of Stream storage would cost $1200 a year.  I understand that Stream storage has much more value (searchable transcript, player, captions, etc) than a 500 GB disk drive which you can buy for between $30 – $80, but $1200 each and every year for an additional 500 GB of storage seems excessively high to me.”

With additional features, more flexibility, and higher storage limits, CircleHD is the clear winner here. 

Driving Digital Transformation at Your Enterprise with Video

We live in a time where innovation and change happen at warp speed. No matter how far we come, there always seem to be new technological advances right around the corner. This is why it’s so paramount that business leaders stay agile and look for processes that can be improved with a little bit of digital transformation.

If you’ve heard that phrase before and are a bit confused by it, you’re not alone. Digital transformation has been a buzz word touted by some of the biggest companies in the world over the last few years. In fact, studies have revealed that 70% of companies either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one. And while the oft-talked about part of digital transformation is the reimagination of the employee and customer experience, it’s what happens behind the scenes to enable virtual worker collaboration and knowledge sharing that really helps businesses run more efficiently and effectively.

The Main Areas of Digital Transformation

Leading digital change requires managers to have a distinct vision of how to transform their organization for our fast-moving world. If you’re trying to break digital transformation down into silos, you’ll find that it’s easier said than done and experts vary greatly in their assessment of how many areas there are in a model–the number has ranged from three to nine. So where should you begin looking and what activities are the best opportunities for your business? 

According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, “CEOs should focus on these areas in digital transformation:

  • Empowering employees. As change managers know, employee motivation and skills are critical for organizational transformations – including digital transformations – to succeed. 
  • Engaging customers. Customer engagement matters just as much as employee engagement, which means businesses must meet the evolving expectations of today’s customers. 
  • Optimize operations. Infrastructure modernization is one of the best ways that digital transformation can help improve organizational effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Services and products. Innovation is one of the best ways to fuel success in the modern age, helping organizations improve their market position, capture more revenue, and stay relevant.”

With the right strategy, approach, and execution, an organization can change the way it operates and delivers value to customers and stakeholders.

Why Companies Struggle With Digital Transformation

It’s a well-documented fact that companies can find themselves behind digitally and suffer from strategic decisions they made 20 years ago. In fact, 73 percent of enterprises failed to provide any business value from their transformation efforts. That’s a pretty dismal figure and while stagnation can happen for many reasons, they usually fall into three main areas:  

Your company lacks organizational commitment

Whether you’re trying to implement a broader cultural change at your company or attempting to introduce new technology into your stack, it’s important that everyone is on the same page about the concept and vision needed to transform. 

We all know that getting everyone on board with a  new initiative can be like herding cats on a good day and It can be even more difficult if your organization is dealing with extra stressors, such as a global pandemic. There are two ways to bridge this adoption gap:

  1. Spell out the need for the change you are proposing: This might mean building a hypothetical use case that illustrates how transforming will improve your company’s position in the market, how it changes the customer experience, or how it will help people save time and boost efficiency–even if specifics aren’t known up front.

  2. Encourage ownership: The benefits of employee engagement are well documented and one of the most important tools to build this is involvement. According to Gallup, “When people are part of the solution and know they are a valuable part of the work and decisions being made, that is to say, when they have a sense of ownership — and if they know what excellence and success look like — they are that much closer to being engaged.”

    Look critically at all the steps you need to talk in order for your transformation to be successful and divvy some of that work out to your team members. Not only will they feel like they are a critical component to the company’s success, but they will be more likely to encourage other members of the organization to adopt as well.

The biggest thing to remember is that all changes take time so there’s no shame in taking it slow. If you try to begin the digital transformation process without having a clear roadmap that helps others understand why you are doing this in the first place, you risk alienating the people involved and at worst, find yourself dealing with a lot of frustration and passive-aggressive behavior. 

Failure to pivot

When planning your digital transformation, it can be tempting to build a detailed 18-month or even two-year plan that outlines how you would implement it but this approach is incredibly flawed because it doesn’t give you room to iterate. 

I always say that strategy should almost never be set in stone and there should always be room to account for variables. Since change happens at the drop of a hat these days, you want to be as nimble as possible and break your plan down into shorter projects that can be measured for impact as you go along. This will also help your company pivot easier when new technologies or events disrupt your industry while ensuring you’re able to keep your plan strategically aligned with the original intent. If you build on your learnings with every sprint, you’ll get more value in the long run. 

Taking a “tech first” approach without considering the rest of the picture

When it comes to transformation, so many people get bogged down by the technological aspects that they often forget all about approaching it mindfully, which can be a recipe for disaster. A study by MIT found that “the strength of digital technologies…doesn’t lie in the technologies individually. Instead, it stems from how companies integrate them to transform their businesses and how they work.” 

The good news is that you don’t need to be a tech wizard to drive change at your company, you just need to have an understanding of the role it plays in the ever-changing business landscape. When building your digital transformation strategy, these are some key areas to consider:

  1. Define the business objectives

    Did you know 78 percent of companies fail to meet their business transformation objectives? Often, it’s because the organization has no focus. Instead of thinking about programs and solutions in a silo, consider them from the perspective of how each will help you achieve specific business objectives. Make a list of what your company hopes to achieve and select solutions that will help you meet those specific goals.

  2. Involve stakeholders to understand what works

    As much as we’d all love to be experts in every area that drives our organization, it’s more realistic (and less cumbersome on your time) to pull in stakeholders from key areas to guide your efforts. They will have in-depth knowledge of what works (and what doesn’t), help you gain insight into workflow processes, and determine where new tech may be most effective.
  3. Gain Insights into the Customer Experience

    If your ultimate goal is to improve the customer experience, it is essential that your strategy is focused on external goals rather than internal company objectives. Gather customer feedback and use it to inform your approach. It’s also a good idea to reach out to any personnel in the company who regularly have contact with clients and customers to get a better idea of common pain points.

Where Does Video Fit In?

If you’re an enterprise leader working through the first steps of a digital transformation, from assessing the current landscape to defining the vision and building the roadmap, you might be surprised to find that video is actually the perfect medium for transforming collaborative and operational processes for your workforce. 

With more workers being driven online and business increasingly being conducted in a remote environment, it should come as no surprise that the use of video tools like Zoom and Google Meet are having a moment

But the effective use of video goes beyond virtual conferencing and leaders are putting this medium to work in a number of different ways. If you’re looking for ways to transform your company’s operational and collaborative processes, these are a few key areas where you may be able to benefit:


The importance of a well-executed onboarding process cannot be overstated–a study by Glassdoor revealed “organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%”. But retention rate isn’t the only metric affected by effective onboarding procedures: you also see impacts on job satisfaction, performance, and the company’s bottom line. 

By using video for your on boarding procedures, you not only keep the information and process consistent, but are able to save yourself time on a process that’s typically repeatable. 

Partner and Customer Training

When it comes to scaling your business, customer and partner training should be at the forefront of your mind. Your company can have the greatest product or service around but it won’t matter if the learning curve is so steep that adoption is difficult which is why video is also a great vehicle for saving time and streamlining your partner and customer training processes. 

Once upon a time, writing an absurdly large manual, coupled with a week-long, on-site seminar was the way customer and partner training was conducted. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to easily understand why this method is ineffective, difficult to scale and prohibitively expensive.

Not only is video more engaging for the end user, it will also help increase information retention levels and reduce customer churn. In fact, a research report found people are 75% more likely to watch a video than to read documents, emails, or web articles.

Internal Communications

When communicating crucial information and company announcements, it can be tempting to just send an email or post something on your company intranet, but enterprise video gives senior leaders more control over messaging and It’s an easy way to tell a story in a more personalized way that is engaging for everyone at your organization. When you use video to communicate key information at your company, you not only humanize the message, but you’re able to capture the information for posterity and enable all company personnel to access the communication at a time that’s convenient for them, regardless of geographical location or time zone. This also makes video a great vehicle for capturing all-hands or department meetings.

Share Knowledge Across Your Organization

Companies tend to struggle with effective knowledge sharing across the organization, and it’s not atypical for critical information to exist in silos or with one person. 

Picture this: you have someone at your company who is incredibly skilled on a particular software you use or a process used internally. But one day, that person leaves the company and that information is lost. If it was captured on video, the process of passing that knowledge on to someone else at the company would be much easier. There’s also the added benefit of time management at play here, since video content takes less time to produce than written documentation. 

Encourage Continuous Learning

What if you could implement a solution that would increase employee productivity by 200%? It might sound like a laborious, complicated endeavor, but it’s actually as simple as providing your workforce with training and development. 

According to a study by Capgemini Consulting, “only one in ten adults in the U.S. feel that they have sufficient computer and Internet skills to use the digital tools they’re responsible for in their daily work.”

Employers need to go beyond initial on-the-job training and nurture development with continuous learning in order to keep pace with the rate of technological change. Enabling video allows you to create tracks to support ongoing coaching efforts. The best part is that these on-demand training modules empower employees to learn on-the-go and on their own time. 

Build an inclusive culture when all employees contribute

Building a company culture that gets your workers excited should already be top of mind for any organization but the hurdles can seem insurmountable when your team is distributed. How do you encourage engagement when physical presence isn’t possible? After all, video conferencing and chatting to each other can only get you so far.

A Gallup survey revealed that only 30 percent of full-time employees in the United States feel engaged at work. Those who are emotionally disconnected from their companies may end up working against their employers’ interests: they are less productive, more likely to steal, can negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away.

Video is still one of the most effective tools your company can use to call employees to action. In fact, employees are often a company’s most under-utlized storytellers and champions. Consider building a video library where all your team members can upload and contribute their own content. Not only does this help build connection at your organization, it can help transform company culture and boost morale.

Other Use Cases for Video

When it comes to using video in your transformation efforts, only your imagination is the limit, but some other ways you might include it include:

  • Troubleshooting videos for common customer problems and pain points
  • In-depth product demos your sales team can use
  • Sales presentations

Implementing a Video Solution at Your Company

Identifying areas for transformation and aligning internal teams is only half the battle. For video to become a natural part of your business transformation plan, you should employ the use of a platform that can seamlessly integrate with your existing tech stack.

Some features you should look for in a hub include:

  • Enterprise-grade security: You’ll likely be sharing sensitive information, so your platform needs to incorporate the latest security protocols to keep communication from getting leaked. 
  • Access controls: The capability to restrict viewing to specific groups, teams, and individuals should be available. 
  • Mobile-friendly: Information should be readily available, allowing your employees to access the most up-to-date information at any time, from anywhere, regardless of if they have wifi access or not.
  • Analytics: Communication managers should have access to an extensive analytics suite that gives them insight into who is watching content, what they are watching and when. Utilizing these data points can also let you know how engaged people are with the video content you’re producing and give an overall impression of what impact your digital transformation efforts are having.

Of course, there’s still this prevailing idea that creating video content is difficult or requires costly investment. With all the advances in technology, that adage is no longer true. Today’s enterprise video platforms are both easy to use and integrate seamlessly into existing infrastructure–whether your company has a dedicated media room, or you’re just using the built-in audio/video features on your computer. 

That in mind, it’s incredibly easy to get started incorporating this medium into your company’s digital transformation strategy and it can have a huge impact when used properly. When a company takes a tool like video and goes beyond the base features, they’re likely to see a positive impact on employee performance, operations and overall engagement—things many organizations strive to achieve in the first place.


If you’d like to learn more about how you can incorporate video into your enterprise’s transformation efforts, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us today

We Can’t Breathe

We at CircleHD are shocked and saddened by the events which have taken place, not only in our community, but across the country. When one of us hurts, we all hurt and we stand in solidarity against racism and injustice wherever they are.

“We are deeply saddened by the horrific incident and death of  George Floyd,” said CircleHD, Santosh Sahoo. “Our team stands by the family of Mr. Floyd, and everyone protesting for equality and justice.”

If you’d like to donate time or resources to support our brothers and sisters, please consider the following organizations:


LGBTQ FundBail fund providing relief to jailed LGBTQ people in 15 states and counting.

Campaign ZeroOrganization that utilizes research-based policy solutions to end police brutality in the U.S.

Unicorn RiotNonprofit media collective dedicated to exposing the root causes of social, economic, and environmental issues.


George Floyd Memorial FundThe official GoFundMe to support the Floyd family.

Minnesota Freedom FundCommunity-based fund set up to pay criminal bail and immigration bonds for individuals who have been arrested while protesting police brutality.

Black Visions CollectiveMinnesota-based black, trans, and queer-led organization committed to dismantling systems of oppression and violence.

Reclaim the Block: Coalition that advocates for and invests in community-led safety initiatives in Minneapolis neighborhoods.


Peoples City Council Freedom Fund: Los Angeles-based fund helping to pay for legal support, bail, fines, and court fees for arrested protesters in the city, as well as medical bills and transportation for injured protesters, supplies for field medics, and direct support to L.A.’s Black Lives Matter chapter.

Silicon Valley Democratic Socialists of America Bail FundThe Oakland/San Jose chapter of DSA is currently allocating donations to a temporary bail fund, as well as a COVID-19 aid fund.


Colorado Freedom FundProviding bail relief to protesters and other individuals across the state of Colorado. CFF has also been providing protest updates on its webpage.


Atlanta Solidarity Fund: Action Network fund set up to support the George Floyd protesters with both bail and necessary legal relief.


Chicago Community Bond FundOrganization committed to posting bail for individuals in Cook County, Illinois, who are unable to post bail themselves.


Louisville Community Bail FundBail, legal, and support fund for activists in Louisville.


Baltimore Action Legal TeamBail fund and legal relief for the city of Baltimore, with a focus on black activists.


Massachusetts Bail FundWorking to post bails up to $2,000 in Essex and Suffolk Counties in Massachusetts.


Detroit Bail FundBail fund launched by a local activist to provide relief to the city’s protesters.

New York

Brooklyn Bail FundCommunity bail fund for Brooklyn’s incarcerated individuals. The nonprofit recently pivoted its focus to bail reform, but organizers have committed to helping those arrested in this week’s protests and are providing support to other bail funds across the country.

May 2020 Buffalo Bail Fund: Fundraiser set up to provide bail for those protesting in Buffalo, New York.


Columbus Freedom FundBail fund committed to helping those arrested for protesting in Columbus.


PDX Protest Bail FundGoFundMe established by the General Defense Committee Local 1 to bail protesters out in Portland.


Philadelphia Bail FundBail fund providing relief to protesters in the city of Philadelphia, with the long-term goal of bringing an end to cash bail.

Bukit Bail Fund of PittsburghOrganization founded after the preventable death of Frank “Bukit” Smart Jr., in Allegheny County Jail, working to bail out individuals currently incarcerated in ACJ.


Nashville Bail FundNonprofit committed to freeing low-income individuals from jail in the city of Nashville.


Restoring Justice Community Bail FundA partnership between Restoring Justice, the Bail Project and Pure Justice to provide bail relief in Houston, initially set up as a response to COVID-19.

Luke 4:18 Bail FundBail fund overseen by Faith in Texas committed to posting bail for individuals in Dallas.

400+1 Bail FundBail fund originally created to assist a black man arrested in Austin who feared he could catch COVID-19 in jail. The fund is now being directed toward protesters in the city.


Richmond Community Bail FundCommunity group dedicated to freeing jailed individuals in Richmond who can’t make bail.


Northwest Community Bail Fund: Providing cash bail to arrested individuals in the Seattle metropolitan area.


Milwaukee Freedom FundBail fund for black and brown organizers in Milwaukee. Donations are currently on pause so as to administer the funds they’ve already received, but the webpage includes a list of similar local organizations to donate to instead.

Outside the U.S.

Toronto Protestor Bail FundToronto activists are holding their own Black Lives Matter protests over the death of Regis Korchinski and have set up this bail fund for those arrested.