When we got started 2+ years ago we made a couple of strategic bets. One was that text-to-speech voices would come of age and they have. Another was that translating software videos could be scalable and sustainable. We are seeing a very sharp increase in the number of customers wanting to translate their videos into multiple languages. Here are some of our recent learnings about video translation.
Making Software Videos Easy
In today’s world of SaaS applications, it’s getting harder and harder to charge for customer education separate from onboarding. You can still charge for certification programs but it’s not that easy to charge customers separately to learn how to use a new product. That’s become an onboarding expectation in the B2B world and this cost is part of the onboarding fee. While some will argue that there will always be a need for instructor-led training, customer education is moving rapidly to self-paced training. Short videos have become more important than long talking head recordings of someone explaining the product or being in a class.
When Videate makes videos, we use a combination of automation, AI, and text-to-speech (TTS) technology. You can think of the Videate platform as a team of always available “software robots,” cloud-based resources who can make awesome videos from your scripts and your software. In this article, we will take a look at one of the fastest-growing segments of technology, Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Please don’t confuse RPA with old-style computer-generated voices that sound robotic. To refresh your memory, the latest TTS voices are now performing within 1-2% of human voices according to research from WellSaid Labs.
Many thanks to our great customers for giving us permission to share some samples of their videos generated by Videate. Here is a link to the sampler, which includes snippets of a few videos that will demonstrate just how far we’ve come with our automation in the past year. In this article, we will take a look “behind the scenes” and explain a few of the subtle techniques that will save you time and money.
Great article last week by Josh Bersin entitled “A New Category Emerges: The Creator Platform for Corporate Learning.” Many of his observations about corporate learning (employee-facing) also apply to customer-facing education, but there are some differences related to the core technologies that SaaS companies are using for Customer Success. One example is learning management systems. Another is content management. The third is video production.
There was a great paper published last week based on research done by Frost & Sullivan on the “State of Self-Service Content.” Thank you, Megan Gilhooly and the Zoomin Software team for sponsoring this. One of the takeaways was, “Customers don’t have confidence in the content experience.” The research went on to say, “Users state that on average 40% of the time their searches lead them to either irrelevant or out-of-date product content. This does not include content that users may not realize is out of date.” Here is the link to the research paper.
One of the more challenging items for scaling video production is standardizing the use of visual effects. With written documentation, decisions on how and when to use headings, bold, italics, underline, etc. have been proven over time. Standards have evolved as content moved to the web from print. With video, it’s still the wild west. Decisions about when to highlight, box, shadow, or zoom are for the most part left to the creator. With software videos, you can improve the user experience by implementing standards for visual effects in your scripts just like you do for your website and product documentation.
We recently met at the ConVEx conference with Ben Colborn, Director, Technical Publications at Nutanix, in a Candid Conversation session about scaling videos for documentation and training. He started with a discussion about single-sourcing and multi-channel publishing. While very successful for product documentation, for the most part, this has meant, “as long as it is text.” But now, recording videos, capturing screenshots, and even creating slides that can be also used in Customer Education are possible. Below is a quick summary and here is a link to the recording.
The best software companies in the world follow documentation standards that are aligned with their user experience goals. They use simple and consistent terminology. They don’t allow individual writers to invent their own content strategy. This now needs to be done for video as well. Practices that not only align with the user experience but also streamline the software video production process from writing a script to quickly making updates with each release.
We are often asked, “What do you need in addition to documents or scripts before you start producing videos with Videate?” The answer is very straightforward. You need a Dedicated Environment, Prerequisite Instructions, and Sample Data. Whether you record videos manually or use Videate to automatically generate them for you, getting these three things in order is key to success.