Friday, July 31, 2009

Online Event Services Industry Continues Evolution

Steve Vonder Haar recently released an outstanding research report about the online webcasting event services business.

He states that consumers of webcasting services have been motivated by two priorities: 1) the desire to keep costs low; and 2) the desire to keep involvement of their own IT departments to a minimum. For this reason, major webcasting event service providers, like ON24, have enjoyed their greatest success at the ends of the market spectrum: low cost self-provisioning services and high touch premium webcasting services.

The premium end of the market has been bolstered by the complexity of the client's needs, which has kept fees high and competition at bay. The low end of the market had become increasingly commoditized.

He concludes that service providers are going to have to push more to the middle of that spectrum and identify more companies that require well-produced webcasts for the market to continue growing.

He also mentions that the complexity of webcast events that has traditionally protected the major service providers is no longer a significant barrier to entry. Sophisticated webcasting software offered on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis allows any number of production companies, agencies, and event companies to compete on an equal footing with the ON24s and the OnStreams.

According to Hoovers, the US marketing and services industry includes about 35,000 companies with combined annual revenue of about $80 billion. The industry is fragmented because the top 50 companies generate less than 40 percent of that revenue. In other words, there are a large number of potential buyers of enterprise webcasting software that want to compete for online event services business at a time when traditional advertising revenues are falling and internet advertising revenues are growing. Internet communications are definitely going to become a greater point of emphasis for these companies.

I am unable to attached the report, but you can request a copy at the Interactive Media Strategies website.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enterprise Software: Saas vs. the Big Three published an article by Dan Woods where he describes a battle between the traditional enterprise software providers (Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle) and Saas providers like and NetSuite.

According to Woods, SaaS applications are easier to use because they offer streamlined interfaces that are modeled after successful web consumer sites like, Yahoo!, eBay, Google, etc. These SaaS interfaces were designed to be easily configurable.

Traditional enterprise software is not as easy to use because user interfaces are often created before it is known exactly how the software would be used. Customization to the user interface is often done at installation by systems integrators who do not have any actual user behavior on which to base their customizations.

The Big Three are well aware of the usability gap between their products and SaaS software, but it is unclear how to solve the problem. Oracle emphasizes Fusion as an integration platform. SAP recently announced an experiment called Blue Ruby that is attempting to adapt Ruby on Rails as a user interface and programming technology for its applications. But is it possible to affordably automate a business starting with a configurable application platform that must be adapted to the specific user interfaces and business processes in a company? The SaaS model starts with a usable interface and a working automation of common processes, and then has the configuration proceed from there. The hosted nature of SaaS removes the deployment barriers.

IVT software is the only webcasting and digital asset management applications available both as a SaaS and as a behind-the-firewall installation. With webcasting software, the divide has included the question: should there be proprietary hardware or should the solution be software-only.

IVT falls on the software-only side, believing that "black box" proprietary hardware is not scalable and is prone to obsolescence.

IVT software on a SaaS basis works with the network infrastructure that already exists, which is one of the competitive advantages we take to the enterprise video battle.