Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Digital Transformation: Live Streaming’s Impact on Singaporean Businesses

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Digital transformation in businesses has already forced us to rethink the way we think about business. The impact of the internet and related technologies has opened up new opportunities for conducting business. Previously, the development of technology in business was designed to help employees do their jobs. Digital transformation involves the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society. This results in the automation of manual tasks and the introduction of new processes. It is important to understand that digital transformation is not just about automating work from the 20th century, but about using technology to do things differently and more efficiently, which in turn affects daily human activities. It enables easier leadership and ownership, and provides better information. Digital transformation has been developing in major industries around the world and will continue to do so in the coming years.

Overview of Digital Transformation

Singapore has been actively trying to promote digital transformation across all sectors, provoking a lot of choices that businesses can utilize to explore innovative solutions, encourage productivity growth, and internationalization. This is especially evident in the industry sector, where it was hinted in Budget 2016 that S$4.4 billion will be allocated for digital transformation in SMEs specifically in the industry sector. A product that is a result of digital technology, the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG), is available for businesses to purchase IT solutions and equipment. The Singapore government has been actively implementing programs and granting funds like these in various industries to facilitate the initial process of digital transformation due to its confidence that a long-term productivity win can be achieved.

Digital transformation refers to the integration of digital technologies and the acceleration of business activities, processes, competencies, and business models. These changes affect a company’s operations, leveraging digital technology to improve efficiency, bring them closer to their customers, and prepare them to discover new business models. The idea is that every business’s target is to leverage an abundantly accessible tech and data-centric ecosystem to incessantly innovate operations relative to varying and sometimes customer’s desire to attain a better experience, improving decision making, and delivering better outcomes. This means all businesses, regardless of whether they provide consumer goods, B2B services, or function in the public sector, must consider how digital technology is transforming markets and how they can use it to their advantage.

Importance of Live Streaming in Business

Using the example of Taiwan’s Aztec mode, a company that specializes in selling mobile phone accessories, they once used live streaming to demonstrate and sell mobile phone protection screens. Viewers were able to ask questions about the product and how to apply the screens. During the stream, there were over 1500+ viewers and sales of the product had exceeded the sales of their previous products, in just one day. This demonstrates the success that the immediate feedback and interactive process that live streaming can bring to a business. By being able to see the product in real-time and ask questions about it, consumers are more likely to make a purchase as there is a more personal feel and trust in the product.

Live streaming’s interactivity provides greater engagement for the customers and allows businesses to essentially create a more diverse communication process. This, in turn, helps to build stronger relations with customers and, in the case of smaller companies, expand their audience. An example of how this can be done is through the hosting of a Q&A session. In a survey done by livestream, 80% of respondents would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts. During this session, businesses can request viewers to ask questions about the company and its products and answer them on the spot. This provides immediate feedback and is much more cost-effective than using market research. This immediate feedback can also be extended towards the viewing of consumer reaction to new products.

Live streaming refers to the online streaming media simultaneously as you record it. It is a form of entertainment that can be interactive. With its recent development, businesses have been starting to jump onto the live streaming Singapore bandwagon. Nearly 28% of businesses have reported that their marketing and sales tactics have been using live streaming Singapore video. In addition to that, the development of live streaming has allowed for smaller businesses to also be able to get in on the action. With its low cost, all you need is a camera, an event to film, and a platform to host your video. This can be in the form of a smartphone which many already have. With these resources, a small business can also engage with the consumers as well as bigger companies and is not restricted by the high costs that would be associated with traditional, pre-recorded online video.

Benefits of Live Streaming for Singaporean Businesses

Live streaming can reach people as far as they are connected to the internet. Many events have physical constraints which do not allow people from far places to attend. Just like an auction event, room is one of the limiting factors and no matter how expensive the items are, there is no point in bidding on them if there are no audiences. Live streaming overcomes the problem of space constraint and enables anyone from around the world to view it. Not only that, live streaming has a record feature which stores every event and allows the owner to keep it or delete it after the event according to their wishes. This feature enables people to view the events that they have missed or re-watch them if they desire. This will greatly benefit the owner as more people will view it and possibly increase customers in the future.

Increased Reach and Audience Engagement

Live streaming has no rival when it comes to audience engagement. A study found that 56% of surveyed live stream viewers at professional companies watched live video more often in 2016 than 2015, and 43% of consumers wanted to see more live video from marketers in 2016. This is due to the unique nature of live video and the ability it has to create an event out of consuming content, as the same study found that viewers spend 8.1% longer on average watching live video than recorded. This is further amplified by the interactivity of live video, as demonstrated by a case study which found Facebook Live videos average 6 times more interactions than traditional videos. The high level of engagement offered by live video makes it an effective tool for information delivery, as it holds the attention of viewers and creates a more memorable viewing experience. This is demonstrated by a study conducted which found that 80% of video on demand consumers said they were more likely to watch the entirety of a video when it had an interactive element, and 77% of consumers said that interactive video content held their attention better than other forms of content.

Live streaming has become a popular choice for businesses seeking to communicate with their audience. This is due to the unique interactivity and engagement it offers, especially when compared to other types of digital video. A study found that 73% of respondents are using streaming video, with an additional 17% planning to do so, which demonstrates a strong prevalence across all verticals. This popularity does not come without reason; survey data collected found high satisfaction rates for streaming video solution use in marketing (57% very satisfied, 41% somewhat satisfied) and sales (54% very satisfied, 43% somewhat satisfied) when asking decision makers about the use of streaming video for these purposes within the past year. This is due to live streaming for business holding three key advantages: improved audience engagement, the ability to provide information in real-time, and its applications as a communication tool.

Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy

Live streaming significantly reduces the cost to reach an audience compared to traditional pre-recorded videos or paid advertisements. Although hosting certain platforms can incur their own costs, they will definitely not outweigh the costs of paid advertising or video production. The rest of the analysis will explain how live streaming has become more accessible and favorable than pre-recorded videos and why it is better to invest time and/or resources into live streaming as opposed to using it as a funnel to pre-recorded content.

Marketing and advertising in today’s digital age is incredibly cost inefficient, especially for small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Social media has created immense pressure to invest in paid advertising due to the decline in organic reach. As we became aware of this, we looked for alternative methods for our online marketing initiatives, and we believe this was the reason why there has been a large shift in SMEs looking to try live streaming as an alternative marketing channel.

Real-Time Customer Interaction

Real-time customer interaction is a process of engaging customers with company products or services through online communication. It provides customers with satisfactory services and meets their needs. Due to advanced technology, businesses can interact with their customers through various ways such as chat rooms, instant messaging, and more. One of the fastest growing sales and marketing tools is feedback from customers or critics. Live streaming allows businesses to get immediate response and feedback from customers. This is a good way of understanding customer needs and taking immediate actions to serve them better. For example, a newly set up restaurant can live stream their food preparation for a few dishes and see customers’ reactions to it. They can find out if customers like the way it is prepared, if there is anything they can improve, and more. This immediate reaction from customers will definitely help them prepare better dishes and understand their customers’ needs. The e-commerce industry can benefit a lot from this real-time customer interaction. For example, live streaming can sell a product and at the same time, through chat rooms or messaging, provide detailed explanations about the product when customers ask about it. This will increase customer buying interest by 90% because all their questions are answered immediately. Live streaming enables a two-way communication form. This empowers employees at Citi, across various lines of business, to interact directly with customers, answer their questions immediately, and better understand their pain points. “Through things like chat, live streaming video, and shared documents, we can have a far richer interaction with our clients in understanding the problems they are looking to solve. This is an area where traditionally technology has been difficult to use and the value proposition has been mixed. Today, we can perform user-centered design at a far greater scale than was ever possible by leveraging newer technologies for direct customer interaction,” said Debby Hopkins, Citi’s Chief Innovation Officer.

Challenges and Considerations for Implementing Live Streaming

In Singapore, market penetration for these services and equipment can vary according to industry and business size, and SMEs especially may find it difficult to afford such resources. Maintaining a high-quality connection is also necessary to avoid any technical mishaps and interruptions that could potentially turn away customers viewing the stream. Any such occurrences would reflect poorly on the business and may undermine the credibility and trust established through live streaming.

Live streaming is a technologically advanced method of video broadcasting, and as such, it requires a certain level of technical capability and infrastructure for effective utilization. This involves having a stable and fast internet connection and necessary hardware such as a high-quality webcam and microphone, a workable encoder, and specific media servers.

The integration of live streaming on these e-commerce platforms poses numerous challenges for businesses. These challenges may hinder effective implementation of live streaming despite its potential benefits. There are three main challenges to be considered, namely technical requirements and infrastructure, the creation of content and ensuring its quality, and data privacy and security.

Technical Requirements and Infrastructure

Another important factor is the hardware required to live stream. A basic set-up requires a video camera and a capture device to digitize and transfer the video signal onto a computer. To stream good quality video, businesses will need a digital video camera as opposed to a webcam. Audio quality is also vital, and a microphone of good standard is required. Some more advanced set-ups use multiple microphones to capture audio from different sources. Although it is possible to stream video capturing the video displayed on a monitor, it is not effective and provides poor quality. Video that is filmed and edited before being transferred to a computer will also be of poor quality. High-quality streaming requires video that is captured with a digital or analogue video camera. A higher frame rate results in a more pleasant viewing experience but requires a faster internet connection and more CPU power. Live-streamed video is usually at around 15-30 frames per second. Audio requirements are similar to video; higher quality audio requires a faster connection and more CPU power.

When implementing live streaming, a business will need to consider the technical requirements and infrastructure to ensure that the live streaming operates smoothly with good connection, as it will impact the success of streaming and viewers’ experience with the stream. One consideration is the type of internet connection required and used. This is crucial to streaming as the data is transmitted in real time and without a good connection, data will be dropped and the stream will begin to experience lag. Viewers do not have patience with a stream that buffers often and will quickly exit the stream if the quality is poor. Corporate networks usually have large bandwidth but small companies may struggle with limited bandwidth. A company must also consider the compatibility of the streaming application with their systems and the viewers’ systems. If the application is not compatible, it may require the company to purchase new systems which may be a large investment.

Content Creation and Quality

The development of quality content is identified to be the most important to the successful execution of a live stream in the game industry. Developing a content plan prior to the live stream is best practice in ensuring that the stream remains focused and progresses smoothly. Content plans can take on many forms; for a simple event, a few notes and ideas jotted down may suffice, whereas for a more complex and long-running event, a full script may be more appropriate. One of the most important aspects of a content plan is identifying a USP and running with it. The worst thing to do when streaming is attempting to be a ‘jack of all trades’. For example, there is no point in a broadcaster known for high-level play and analysis to run a casual playthrough of a game. His content does not change significantly and he is less likely to capture a different audience; instead, he has alienated his current following. Knowing when to stop is another key factor. Many broadcasters make the mistake of trying to run a stream for too long, with the quality of play and commentary decreasing as time goes on. An audience is more likely to remember a great 2-hour session than a mediocre 4-hour session.

Data Privacy and Security

Another issue related to privacy is how cached video stream data is stored on clients’ PCs, how long this data is stored for, and under what security measures it is stored. An example is a feature on the website where the streams that you have watched previously are listed and can be replayed. This effectively increases the retention of visitors to the website. However, there may be implications if the visitor is replaying a stream of a game that he should not have watched at work. This feature can be compared to cookies on an internet browser, and the necessity for explicit consent and settings for the length of data retention should be considered. This is a quickly evolving area of law and may vary between different countries and regions.

Considering that data collected from live streaming can become sensitive, such as personal information of the customers or internal information of the firms, a leak of such information can be extremely detrimental to a company’s reputation and thus business. For example, personal customer information leaked can lead to a loss of customer confidence, effectively damaging customer relationships. Trust is hard to rebuild once it is broken. Data leaks can also result in legal implications or loss of intellectual property, which can be difficult to assess in terms of monetary value but can be very costly in terms of opportunities forgone if it were to fall into the hands of competitors. Therefore, it is paramount to consider the security of data involved and the liabilities that may result from a breach.

Successful Examples of Live Streaming in Singapore

In the education industry, the Singapore Management University (SMU) has held live webcasts of seminars and public talks. By doing so, it enabled members of the public to view the seminar or talk using only an internet connection. This is very useful in helping SMU to reach out to its target audience as it allows people to attend the seminar or talk without being physically present at the venue. This would help to increase awareness of SMU and its activities since non-SMU students would have a chance to watch the webcast. Live webcasts could also serve as a preview for prospective students or parents who are interested in the activities in SMU. This is because it provides an idea of what actually happens in SMU. By making use of live streaming technologies, companies in Singapore have effectively improved their brand, product, and image. Static, a local company that sells Mac accessories had a live-streamed event over Facebook. During the live stream, they were promoting their new products and demonstrating Mac tips and life hacks. This event attracted Mac users from all over Singapore to watch the live stream. It had successfully engaged its target audience with the innovative content and attracted potential customers to purchase its products after watching the live stream.

Successful implementation of live streaming technologies can be seen in different industries. In the retail industry, local companies such as Tintoria Italia had their fashion show live streamed over the internet. Using the latest mobile phone technology, the show was captured and broadcasted live over the internet. This meant that people from all over the world could watch the show as long as they were connected to the internet. There was also an interactive session after the show, with a Questions & Answers in real-time between the audience and the company’s designer. This sort of interaction between the audience and the company is crucial, as it allows the audience to gain a better understanding of the company brand, product, and image. Consequently, this will help to set the company apart from its competitors as the audience will have a deeper impression of the brand. This has the potential to increase sales and make testimonials as the audience will be transformed into customers and/or sales agents. Having a deeper impression of the brand will also mean that the customer is more likely to remain loyal to the brand. This would help to solidify the company’s brand, product, and image, making the company’s customer base more stable.

Case Study 1: Retail Industry

The retail business has noticed an increased buying power of the Asian market. It recognized that with the limited time that people have nowadays, they would not be ideal targets to be visited physically in stores. Singaporeans are the most likely among consumers in Southeast Asia to buy a product or service seen through a mobile advertisement, with 96% of an average 4.67 hours spent on their mobile devices weekly engaged in streaming activities. Local retail companies have also been taking their business online and not limiting to a physical store due to a higher demand for online shopping. RebatesMango, a Singaporean coupon company, initially started as an offline coupon book but has since brought their whole business online by enabling users to download them on their smartphones. Live streaming is an easier and better way to engage potential customers and alert them to a product. For example, a collaboration between Chope and Nuffnang produced an online food review program using bloggers and live streamed on Google Hangouts. This is an efficient way to inform consumers of a product or service compared to static ads and written articles. Live streaming also has a wider outreach as seen by findings of mobile data traffic by Ericsson. There has been a 50 times increase from 2010 to 2015 and also a prediction that nearly 3/4 of mobile data traffic will be from video. This could be done at a low cost since Singtel has also announced that it will be slashing its mobile data charges by 95% with its new data roaming add-on plans.

Case Study 2: Entertainment Industry

By doing more live streams with bands and artist features, Bandwagon can create a consistent mode of promotion to match the content they are promoting.

The highlight would be premium content such as coverage of concerts, which can be exclusively live streamed for Bandwagon’s subscribers. Live streaming of music and visual content would create a truly immersive experience for the consumer. These campaigns can create a new viewership for live streams. By directing new viewers directly to the live stream on the day itself, or through the live stream of special events, Bandwagon can create a large focus point for video series and music features. This can improve the relevant viewership of live streams, as consumers can directly associate live stream time with the content that interests them.

As younger consumers generally have low attention spans, they are turning to video and visual content. Live streaming is now a popular mode of consuming such content. By incorporating this into its strategy, Bandwagon can promote their video series and artist features. This would be beneficial for sponsors as they can create a more personal connection with their target audience. Recorded video can be coupled with live streaming to host Q&A sessions with bands or artists. This would lead to more interactivity between consumers and the bands featured, as the audience can ask questions to get to know the bands better.

An example of a company in the entertainment industry utilizing live streaming to promote their product and go global is Bandwagon. Bandwagon is a digital publication and entertainment marketing platform. It evolves at a rapid pace, with promotion strategies directly evolving with consumption patterns. With live streaming growing quickly as a mode of content consumption, Bandwagon is seeking to incorporate it into its content delivery strategy for sponsors. The goal would be to create a comprehensive campaign incorporating live streaming and recorded video. This will match the consumption patterns of the target audience.

The second case under the successful examples of live streaming in Singapore is its impact on the entertainment industry. The digital age has changed the methods of consumption made by people, including entertainment. Examples of this industry include films, visual content, music, and many more. Thus, the entertainment industry is flourishing as it became an important part of society in providing leisure and entertainment for the people.

Case Study 3: Education Industry

Launched in 2014 by the Ministry of Education and in collaboration with several tuition centres, it is aimed at pupils taking their PSLE, ‘N’ and ‘O’ levels and is designed to act as a revision tool. The program allows pupils to access live stream or video on demand lessons from their schools or even homes with the use of a smartphone, tablet or PC. This is especially useful for pupils who may be sick and/or unable to attend school to keep up with their work. The availability of internet streaming also means lessons can take place at more locations compared to the traditional classroom. This also means fewer disruptions for the pupil taking the lesson. Live streaming has also been used at higher level institutions. The Singapore Management University (SMU), for example, has had success using live streaming for their distance education program. This involves an online platform designed to deliver an interactive learning experience for students learning away from campus, with provision of video recordings and live streaming of lectures.

The education industry is another that has picked up the use of live streaming in recent years. It has been around as a tool for learning for a long time, used mostly for tertiary education as a means of accessing lectures that one is unable to attend in person for various reasons. However, Singapore has seen great success with the use of live streaming with the ‘Learn On the Go’ program.

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