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Coming of Age: 2006 Enterprise Year in Review

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Still, not all deployments are created equal. Many companies continue to experiment with the technology and use online multimedia on only a sparing basis. By the end of 2005, the most recent year for which enterprise usage figures are available, 73% of companies surveyed by Interactive Media Strategies reported annual spending on the technology of less than $100,000 per year. Thirteen percent of companies participating in the survey reported annual budgets for online multimedia technology exceeding $500,000.

But this small cadre of companies with large budgets is not only spending significantly on webcasting tools and services but is also doubling-down their investment in the technology as well. In short, companies that use online multimedia frequently recognize the value of boosting their spending on the technology.

At organizations producing more than 100 webcasts per year, 64% of respondents in a fourth quarter 2005 survey of 1,202 corporate executives surveyed by Interactive Media Strategies says that their budgets for deploying the technology would increase in 2006 over their 2005 levels. Among companies producing between 50 and 100 online events enriched with multimedia per year, 72% reported plans to boost 2006 spending on the technology. From that point, interest in boosting budgets generally declines as the frequency of event deployments declines. At companies producing between 20 and 29 events annually, for instance, only 44% reported plans to increase spending on rich media in 2006.

Focus on Reliability and Reporting
With these spending patterns in mind, technology vendors in the enterprise multimedia space in 2006 began focusing their efforts on solving the problems that arise at companies as they begin to use the technology more extensively.

In November, for instance, long-time industry player VBrick launched a new appliance—dubbed "Reflector"—that is designed to streamline the way content is distributed on corporate networks.

At the other end of the multimedia value chain, in December, Interactive Video Technologies launched a beta version of its MediaPlatform Studio service that is designed to simplify multimedia publishing, making it possible for a broader range of workers to develop their own video-enriched presentations online.

The challenge for all vendors today is developing solutions that make it easier for average workers to create content while supplying sophisticated back-end systems that allow IT managers to keep tabs on when and where online multimedia is being distributed. "If the systems are not centrally managed, they’re not even an option to be considered for many companies," Pulier says.

For the most part, the bulk of technical advances logged during 2006 dealt with improving the foundation needed to make basic online multimedia systems work better, says Stan Woodward, chief executive officer of Reflect Systems Inc., a Dallas-based company that sold multimedia solutions in the past year to organizations such as Underwriters Laboratories and Amgen.

"No one’s really pushing the envelope on content development features," Woodward says. "People just want it to work and not have to worry a lot about it."

Several vendors traditionally associated with the enterprise multimedia publishing tools built upon their technology foundations in 2006 to expand into the realm of content management.

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