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.
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.
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.
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.