Webcasting Eased for Non-IT Pros

Sonic foundry system keeps costs down; need no in-house expertise.

To make broadcasting, recording and archiving on the Web easier for an enterprises non-IT professionals—such as sales force or human resources personnel—Sonic Foundry Inc. last week upgraded its one-step system for capturing and streaming presentations and accompanying PowerPoint slides.

Sonic Foundrys updated MediaSite Live also enables higher-resolution images and lets viewers change video and graphics screens to suit their 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 company in St. Louis, began using the previous version of MediaSite Live earlier this month at a conference in Carlsbad, Calif., to Webcast speakers and their visual aids. At the same time, Wealth Advisors archived the presentations on its virtual conference site, said Larry DeRusha, chief technology officer and principal.

Officials at Wealth Advisors, which now resells MediaSite Live to the financial management market, emphasized the products 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 was 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 and alliances, in the companys Pittsburgh office.

The system, which includes hardware and software, incorporates and synchronizes video with PowerPoint slides, spreadsheets, Web sites and any other online reference materials. Remote viewers can watch the video in one window while viewing slides and other materials simultaneously 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 audiovisual 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 enabling a presentation to be converted for online use. In addition, 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.