Webcast Tool Doesnt Require Tech Savvy

Tool makes it easier for employees without IT expertise to act as their own webcast operators.

To make webcasting, recording and archiving easier for an enterprises non-IT professionals—such as sales and human resources personnel—Sonic Foundry Inc. offers a one-step system for capturing and streaming presentations and accompanying PowerPoint slides. The latest version, released today, makes it easier for employees without IT expertise to act as their own webcast operators.

The updated tool, called MediaSite Live, also supports higher resolution images and lets viewers change the video and graphics screens to suit their own preferences. If, for example, a presentation does not include slides or other graphics, the video window can be enlarged to the full screen.

Wealth Advisors International LLC, a financial management firm in St. Louis, began using the system earlier this month to webcast conference speakers and their visual aids and to archive these presentations on the companys virtual conference site, said Larry DeRusha, chief technology officer and principal for the financial management company.

Wealth Advisors, which now resells MediaSite Live to the financial management market, highlights its simplicity. "The system doesnt require extensive training," DeRusha said. "Its not targeted toward professionals in the webcast business."

The goal of the MediaSite Live design is to give enterprises a way to webcast presentations without in-house expertise or service provider fees, said James Dias, Sonic Foundrys vice president of Strategic Solutions & Alliances, in the companys Pittsburgh office.

The system, which includes hardware and software, incorporates and synchronizes video with PowerPoint slides, spreadsheets, Web sites and other online reference materials. Remote viewers can watch the video in one window while simultaneously viewing the slides and other materials in another.

"Drop it down and start giving as many presentations as you want. You dont need any special skills," Dias said. "In the enterprise setting, weve gone to great lengths to make this capability self-service. Were literally down to three clicks and you go."

For companies that sponsor conferences routinely, operator-assisted webcasting can become expensive. Sonic Foundry maintains that its product creates the same effect without the service fees. "Very few events benefit from the high production value that a major audio/visual crew could come in and give you," Dias said. "Most of the time a simple, straightforward, reliable, high-quality webcast that just does the basics is enough."

There are many companies in the Web presentation business, most of which provide sophisticated "authoring" tools to convert presentations for online use. Also, many service providers offer specialized personnel to capture and record presentations for the Web. Sonic Foundry claims it has an edge in offering a one-time charge for its hardware and software and requiring no additional service.