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The Akamai Blog

March 2020 - The Importance of Video in the Digital Customer Experience

Welcome to Day 4 of Akamai's March 2020 Release. Before we dive into today's announcements, just a reminder of the week's schedule:

  • Monday was Day 1 for security, with enhancements to Bot Manager, Fast DNS, Kona Site Defender, Managed Security Service, Prolexic Routed, and Web Application Protector.
  • Tuesday was a second day for security that included updates for Enterprise Threat Protector, DNSi CacheServe, Fast DNS, and Identity Cloud.
  • Wednesday provided updates to Akamai's delivery platform for HTML, API, video, software, and smaller-object content.
  • Thursday (today) is all about the digital customer experience, with a special spotlight on short-form video.
  • Friday is for developers and customers looking for new ways to manage their Akamai deployment faster, and as code.

The Digital Customer Experience

Organizations have embraced the importance of "digital transformation" in today's modern era, but its very definition can vary quite widely. One thing, however, remains constant -- organizations realize the extent to which markets have evolved and are centering their digital transformations on customer experiences. Customers are changing, businesses are striving to keep pace, and the idea of digital engagement can no longer align to previously held norms and beliefs. Customers are shifting their support for businesses whose models are born with each new disruptive digital trend.

The always-connected customer is at the heart of digital transformation strategies, which now set new standards for engagement and satisfaction. To successfully meet rising expectations, companies must deliver on-demand, personalized, and engaging digital experiences that elevate customer interactions across all devices and touchpoints.

Activate Customer-Centric Strategies

Customers, not technology, dictate the business strategy; however, many organizations continue to rely on point products to solve complex problems that result in poor customer experiences. As a result, organizations continue to fall behind on the digital transformation curve and may start to lose market share (and suffer financially). Moreover, technical challenges that stem from legacy systems prevent agile and cost-effective market adaptation, cause difficulty with performance validation (lack of visibility into customer journeys), and burden resources with highly manual and complex processes that take focus away from customers.

So how can organizations overcome these challenges? First, they need a holistic approach to digital engagement centered on solutions that remove technical barriers to deliver on core objectives. The Akamai Intelligent Edge Platform -- with global traffic management, identity cloud, real user monitoring, and video optimizations -- enable key capabilities that activate customer-centric strategies like personalization, customer insight, mobile, and one of the most important new forms of digital customer engagement -- short-form video.

Videos Are Powerful (and Challenging to Get Right)

Leveraging short-form videos can be one of the most effective ways to connect with customers today. In fact, most people prefer to watch videos -- not read blocks of text -- when learning about products or services. People spend 88% more time on a website with video, one-third of online activity is spent watching video, and digital shoppers expect to see an average of three videos when researching a product on Amazon or similar retailers. It is, therefore, essential that organizations 1. use (or test) videos, and 2. deliver them consistently and seamlessly across a variety of networks, devices, operating systems, and browsers.

Striking the right balance between delivering highly aesthetic and visually engaging videos, and not overburdening users with excessive bytes, can be challenging. And since videos are more complex by nature (video and audio codecs, containers, bitrate, resolution, etc.) and larger than images, they create new technical challenges, especially over limited and high-latency mobile networks. These challenges, coupled with increasing video consumption and rising customer expectations, combine to create the perfect storm.

Getting Started with Videos, Now

The good news: The Akamai Intelligent Edge Platform is uniquely positioned to have deep visibility into end users -- including device type, operating system, browser, viewport, screen resolution, and network conditions. We harness this insight to deliver the best combination of video quality, format, and resolution for the best user experience, all with reliable speed and performance. Image & Video Manager (formerly Image Manager) simplifies and automates the video workflow by offloading the entire video transformation and delivery process to the cloud. Organizations can then free up valuable IT and business resources to focus on what matters most -- taking their digital customer experience to the next level.

Continue reading below to learn what's new for all web performance products:

Image & Video Manager

mPulse

API Gateway

DataStream

China CDN

Cloudlets


Image & Video Manager

Capturing the importance of video, "Image Manager" is now "Image & Video Manager." In addition to the name change, this release includes new enhancements to both image and video optimization, including improved dashboards, new image transformations, video subtitles, and more.

Key Features

New video dashboard

Customers now have visibility into video optimization metrics, including seconds transmitted, byte reduction, content type delivered, unprocessed videos (max size exceeded), and more within the Image & Video Manager dashboard.

Expanded video quality settings

Two additional video quality settings (high-medium and low-medium) provide users with greater flexibility when balancing video quality with byte reduction.

Video subtitles

Subtitle support for optimized videos, including text files embedded in the video container (mov_text) and webVTT files.

New image dashboard metrics

Dashboard enhancements now include new imaging metrics including byte reduction by device, browser/OS/quality level distribution, and scale for mobile.

Edit background color

A highly requested transformation feature to change/remove/replace the image background color without the need to retake photos.

Enhanced support in China

Enhanced performance support for Image & Video Manager in China.

Master policies

Master policies can be used once or repurposed in multiple places for ease of use and less maintenance.

Fast activation

Streamlines and reduces the overall activation time.


mPulse

Integration with Bot Manager introduces new bot and anomalous behavior detection capabilities that help businesses understand how bots are impacting user experiences and business outcomes.

Key Features

Anomaly detection

Detects anomalous behavior in real user monitoring (RUM) performance data and provides real-time alerting.

Bot Manager integration

Integration with Bot Manager allows customers to segment web traffic by visitor (human vs. bot), and monitor the impact of bots on real user and business metrics.


API Gateway

Improvements to cached API responses to ensure data that is "rapidly changing" is captured appropriately and updated quickly for API clients.

Key Features

Cache prefreshing

Refreshes cached API responses prior to the full expiration time to ensure fresh content in cache while maintaining high performance and offload.


DataStream

Product enhancement that provides insight into data consumption and utilization for better planning and predictability (overages).

Key Features

Billing reports

Integrates with billing center to provide visibility into data consumption through various data points and to better understand utilization.


China CDN

Akamai open APIs to automate or integrate capabilities.

Key Features

China CDN Manager API

Allows customers to programmatically manage the lifecycle and monitor the status of their property hostnames on Akamai's China CDN.


Cloudlets

Faster policy activation times.

Key Features

Fast activation

Faster policy activations.