ViewCentrals Hosted Service Ably Handles Web Conferences

 
 
By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2003-12-08
 
 
 

Companies that need a way to manage in-person seminars, training and Web-based conferences will find a good set of tools in ViewCentral Inc.s hosted Collaboration Management Solutions.

Updated to Version 4.6 last month, Collaboration Management Solutions gives companies a way to manage seminars and conferences, from allocating resources to collecting payments. Prices start at $30,000 per year for the service. This might sound steep, but the service lets customers self-register, so the product can pay for itself in a few months.

In eWEEK Labs tests, we found Collaboration Management Solutions delivered essential tools to help companies manage in-person and Web-based events while giving them a chance to market events more effectively. Because the product allows considerable flexibility, companies should expect to spend at least a couple of months tailoring it to their needs and getting users up to speed.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Collaboration Management Solutions

ViewCentrals Collaboration Management Solutions gives companies that host events and training a way to effectively manage planning. The hosted service offers good tools for managing complex event rules and a self-service registration engine, so event staff can concentrate on one-to-one marketing instead of data entry. The services prices start at $30,000 per year.

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
USABILITY GOOD
CAPABILITY EXCELLENT
PERFORMANCE GOOD
INTEROPERABILITY GOOD
MANAGEABILITY EXCELLENT
SCALABILITY GOOD
SECURITY GOOD
  • PRO: Broad feature set allows companies to manage event-related resources; allows easy creation of rules; integrates with leading Web conferencing services; provides flexible marketing tools.

  • CON: Pricing model tied to registrations; support for external data limited to import and export.
  • EVALUATION SHORT LIST
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    For our tests, we looked at the Blended Conferencing and Blended Training solutions. Blended Conferencing includes the Seminar and vConference modules; Blended Training includes Classroom, vClassroom and eLearning modules. Module components can be purchased individually, and there are additional fees for add-ins such as e-commerce and the number of transactions or registrations.

    The product let us manage just about every aspect of planning an event, including creating and scheduling the event. We could establish registration rules and procedures, including those for prerequisites and confirmation. We could also create complex rules that sent acknowledgment or confirmation e-mail messages, depending on whether a customer had simply registered or registered and paid.

    Overall, the products management features are powerful and allowed us to establish rules in any number of areas—including prices. ViewCentral hosts and manages the customer registration component, which can be customized to look and feel like a companys Web site.

    The service includes a number of nice features that simplify and streamline processes for customers and the event management team. For example, customers can synchronize an event with their Microsoft Corp. Outlook calendar.

    Case study: See how one company made use of ViewCentrals Collaboration Management Solutions.

    The conference module supports the three major Web-based conferencing services: WebEx Communications Inc.s Meeting Center, Microsofts Live Meeting and Raindance Communications Inc.s Web Conferencing. Event management staff can schedule events that use these services directly from within vConference. The scheduling process works in the context of available seats in these platforms, preventing staff from inadvertently booking events that exceed licensed attendance capacity.

    The service will pay for itself at any company that manages event registration by phone, fax or e-mail, but we have reservations about the pricing model. Because prices will vary with the number of registrations, event staff members have one more variable to consider when it comes to budget planning.

    Wed have liked a little more flexibility in data management, too. The services can import and export data in comma- separated values, or CSV, format, and although we could create templates and schedule exporting data to simplify the process, we would like to see the service support direct links into other applications, such as customer relationship management or sales force automation applications.

    Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be contacted at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

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