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Case Study: IBM Takes Webcasting to the Desktop

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"So we went back to grass roots and said, in order to take this up a notch, what does our next system need to look like? And we knew the system needed to be some sort of self service, because we were dependent on the size of our production teams, dependent on the location of those production facilities, dependent on the overall cost of all that equipment and manpower," Kahan says. "So we started building the system to try to lower those costs and to enhance something that we already knew was a good technology [webcasting]. And we knew the empowerment needed to go back to individuals."

The six-month pilot program involved about 100 content creators. "I didn't want it to get too large, because I wanted to make sure that various areas of the business were using it, and so we could collect really good information to see if this was something we should invest in," says Kahan. The "back end" of system, according to Kahan, featured 5,000-6,000 registered users at IBM (which calls them content consumers).

"The folks that were selected to start producing content for the pilot ranged from senior executives (VPs, GMs) all the way down to architects," says Kahan. "They were selected for their various areas of communications within the company. We were looking at how the system will aid us in our daily activities to communicate across the board, not just across one department or one division. In fact, since we are a global company, we have folks all over the globe who are building content and posting that content for global usage."

Surprising Results
At the beginning of the pilot, Kahan conducted a survey asking his 5,000-6,000 users a few questions, including the purposes for which they were then using webcasting. This resulted in four main categories: General Information Flow, Training, Support, and Effective Meetings. At the end of the pilot, he conducted the survey again. Among the changes that most surprised Kahan was the number of people who were using IVT Studio to improve their meetings.

He found that large numbers of IBMers were creating and distributing on-demand pre-meeting presentations that contained preliminary information related to upcoming meetings. This information helped all participants to be better prepared for the live face-to-face meetings when they arrived. And consequently, the meetings went a lot smoother and, perhaps more importantly, faster. Nobody likes being stuck for hours at a time in a meeting room, and IVT Studio helped to streamline IBM meetings, according to Kahan.

This surprised Kahan, because he expected training to be the primary category of IVT Studio usage. Indeed, the initial survey had revealed that 31 percent of users expected to use the tool for that purpose. But at the end of the pilot, those two categories (training & effective meetings) had flip-flopped: Training usage went down to about 25 percent, while effective meetings usage shot up to an amazing 35 percent, making it the highest usage category.

Kahan was also a bit surprised by how few support personnel were using the system to create user support presentations—only 15 percent at the end of the pilot. He talked with his support people and they said they'd use the tool more if it offered screen capture or application capture capabilities. Kahan raised the subject with IVT and IVT built capture into the tool. Kahan reports that today, six months after the competition of the pilot, many more IBM support staffers are using IVT Studio due to the capture enhancement.

Another surprise to Kahan was how quickly "C-level executives" took to the tool. Case in point was IBM's CIO, who, according to Pulier, "fell in love" with Studio. "The CIO there at IBM sat down and created a presentation, and he came back the next day and checked his stats and saw that 1,500 people had watched his presentation," says Pulier. "He was very excited. He had a sort of a-hah moment, when he realized, ‘Wow, I can reach out to thousands of people very rapidly and see who watched and how long they watched and what questions they asked. I didn't have to get everyone's schedule coordinated and I could get statistics and reporting’."

While Kahan isn't willing to say that his CIO fell head over heels for IVT Studio, "he definitely got infatuated," he concedes. "Brian enjoyed it enough that he used it regularly," says Kahan about his CIO. "The first set of presentations he did was in an auditorium situation, but then he started to get a lot more relaxed and said ‘Hey, I don't have to do it in that environment. Then he started posting them out of his office in more of an informal scenario.’ And the feedback seemed to indicate that the audience really appreciated that. It made them feel like it was more like a one-to-one situation, like he was speaking directly to them."

Another surprising thing about IVT-powered webcasts was that the Studio tool increased attendance at live webcasts. "At big meetings where there is an invitation, typically turnout is 10-15 percent," says Kahan. "If 1,000 people are invited and 150 show up, that's a good webcast." Kahan was pleasantly surprised that IVT Studio use boosted attendance to "well above 30 percent, doubling the original invite type of thing." And then there is, of course, the added advantage that many more people could access the stored presentation on demand after the fact.

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