BOSTON (06/02/2000) - Next week, while thousands of businesspeople board airplanes bound for meetings or training sessions, Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP) in Roseland, New Jersey, will begin holding monthly meetings via the Internet for its 350 salespeople who sell services to automotive dealers.
Dan Davis, ADP's manager of sales presentations for North America, uses a system from MShow.com Inc. in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, an application service provider (ASP) that automatically formats and broadcasts various types of content via the Internet.
MShow.com can stream content - even motion video - to 5,000 users at a time, but Davis said he limits the broadcasts he prepares to PowerPoint slides, streaming audio and interactive chat.
Davis said ADP's presentation development staff will create the slides and "blow them into a show" (upload them to MShow's servers) prior to a presentation.
Most attendees dial in via a local Internet service provider. But Davis said MShow.com's technology compensates for slow connections, even those of analog modems, by caching the streaming information to users' local hard drives.
"While users are in a virtual waiting room waiting for the presentation to begin, the content from a recorded presentation is already going onto users' hard drives," Davis said.
MShow.com also automatically detects bandwidth constraints affecting users who are logged on in real time and dynamically configures the content accordingly, said MShow.com President John Rouse. A user whose system is overwhelmed by streaming audio, for example, might be prompted to listen on the telephone instead of through the PC's sound system.
ADP's Web presentations generally use a primary audio presenter and sometimes a sidekick who provides "color the way they do on a radio show," according to Davis.
Rouse said most large enterprise customers pay for the service on a subscription basis, which, on average, runs around 50 cents per minute per user. The company sells services on a per-event basis, too, he said.
Mike Malmquist has needs similar to those of Davis, including a desire to cut travel costs and speed delivery. But the Web analyst at Lutheran Brotherhood, a financial services company in Minneapolis, is taking a slightly different approach. Malmquist said he's testing the eVideo Application Server (eVAS) introduced two weeks ago by PictureTel Corp. in Andover, Massachusetts.
The eVAS can either run on servers in the enterprise or be hosted by ASPs. It supports up to 1,000 concurrent users.
Initially, Lutheran Brotherhood hopes to use eVAS for online training presentations, Malmquist said. Like Davis, he said he would record presentations for future replay. He also noted that eVAS supports polling by placing buttons into PowerPoint slides where users can click to respond to a poll.
The enterprise server price starts at US$25,000 for 200 concurrent users, according to PictureTel.
Customers that use eVAS through an ASP will pay a one-time fee of $55 to $125 per concurrent user, depending on the number of users.
"[PictureTel is] a little late, but they have some advantage with resellers and their experience in video," said Sujata Ramnarayan, an analyst at Gartner Group Inc. in San Jose.
PictureTel said last week that the company would begin offering eVAS as a hosted service through its subsidiary 1414c within the next 30 days.