A VFAQ (VERY frequently asked question) I get is “what’s the difference between web conferencing, webinars, and webcasts?”
The short answer, these days, is “not very much and a whole bunch.”
Seriously, the lines have blurred from the days that “webcasting” was akin to broadcasting (using streaming media) with virtually no interactivity, whereas web conferencing was (and remains) live, totally realtime (you don’t want any delay when you’re talking on a phone conference, right? In many use cases, you don’t on the web either). Webinar is simply a portmanteau of web seminar – arguably a use case rather than a technology. That is brief, but it’s as deep as I’m going as I introduce IVT and their enterprise video communications.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mitch, Hugh, Jim, and Ryan, all at the same time. In addition to the knowledge and passion and history (Hugh’s a fellow ex-Microsoftie with some common connections), what I’m most enthused by is their clarity of mission.
First, IVT’s a software company. You can host the software, but for reasons I’ll not get into, you want to take advantage of the fact that they host the software for you. What’s interesting here isn’t a “right or wrong,” it’s a commitment to a business model. Many (if not most) companies who have solutions for webcasting also provide professional production/event management services. IVT is committed to their robust partner community who deliver value-added services atop the IVT platform. Again, this isn’t a right or wrong, but you have to appreciate focus.
Hello production tools
It’s hard to tell you how important the backend of a product is. It’s what economists call an “experience good” …you have to have been there to get it and appreciate it. As it just so happens I spent many years running organizations in the production business, let me say the two words that will bring any accountants to their needs and get the producers all excited: labor and labor. Labor is expensive. Technology, especially over time, often gets less expensive. If you’ve ever produced an event, let alone a bunch of them, you know that the project management time can create a big sucking sound in your budget. This is where producers get excited… not only will they find the flexibility on the back end of IVT’s platform a joy when meeting numerous and disparate client/stakeholder needs, but it’ll save them time.
Okay, so many different solutions offer degrees of customization, but far fewer have down-to-the-pixel capabilities. When clients demand that, you’ve got to deliver. Further, there’s customization of user experiences, such as different tools you might make available to a presenter versus what the marketing department sees when they need to pull down a report. And then there are web services for the data integration geeks (I say that with love, mind you).
Hello remote presenters – but wait, there’s more
A point of differentiation here is multiple presenters, each with different camera types. One can have a webcam in Sydney, one can be standing in front of a hi-def broadcast camera at a conference in a New York hotel…you get the idea. Need to switch back and forth like a television newscast? Can do.
As is my style, my goal isn’t a vendor-by-vendor shootout, to talk about price, or make a recommendation. I’m excited and privileged to be independent, talk to great people with their own angle on the market, and share with you my own spin on it. It sounds like IVT has a solution if you need to reasonably reach 100 people and the horsepower to reach 20K if you need. If you need flexibility and reach and a commitment to knowing their core biz, IVT (or one of their partners) might be someone to add to your must-investigate list.