by Michael Shapiro | November 18, 2011

This week ON24 introduced Webcast Elite, an easy-to-use, do-it-yourself webcasting solution based on the company's Webcasting Platform 10. The new product, says ON24, now makes it possible for business customers to produce their own professional webcasts without relying on ON24 personnel. Webcast Elite is a software-as-a-service application, meaning there are no downloads or plug-ins -- everything can be run from a computer (or mobile device) with Internet access.
ON24's goal was to package all of the functionality of its full-fledged webcasting platform with the most straightforward of user-facing administrative tools. Feature highlights of Webcast Elite include customizable branding options in the user console, so that producers can promote their identities throughout the webcast; integrated social media and group collaboration interactive functionality; ROI-based analytics and reporting tools, and enterprise-level scalability.
In addition to the DIY ease-of-use lure, Webcast Elite is designed to be a more economical option, cutting webcast costs by about half. It's certainly more evidence of the trend I wrote about last summer, with respect to INXPO's VX platform. Purveyors of online meeting tools are trying to cut their labor costs and in turn lower their pricing, and put more control in the hands of their customers.
I haven't checked out the user console for Webcast Elite; when I demo'd INXPO's VX platform, though, I was enamored of the ease with which a customer could set up a virtual event. It's a nice idea, and I'd love to have similar control over webcasts.
But that control would likely come at a cost of time; putting together our own webcasts, for example, is time-consuming enough, content-wise, without also having production responsibilities. So this trend of DIY raises some important questions about staff responsibilities and time investment: How many companies already have planners or marketers dedicated to virtual event production? How many will likely need some if this do-it-yourself trend gains more traction? As easy as these tools might be, and as tempting as the lower costs and greater control are, will planners have the time and resources to make the most of the opportunity? I'd love to hear your thoughts.