As I have mentioned before, 2018 marks the big technology switch to HTML5 and WebRTC for web-based web conferencing platforms that previously relied on Adobe Flash Player. All Flash-based products should have shifted to the new technology by the end of the year.
Webinato is one of the web conferencing vendors that is faced with a big rewrite of their Flash-reliant code. They just announced that they are taking advantage of the obligatory update to restructure functionality for presenters. The company sent out an email last week, seeking participants to beta test the upcoming new version of the Webinar software, which will be called FLOW.
I am working purely off the announcement letter, as there are no operational sneak peeks available yet. The big change is that FLOW is designed for a highly planned and structured webinar presentation, where the webinar administrator or lead presenter sets up a storyboard of content items to be displayed in a fixed sequence. By "content items," I mean things such as PowerPoint slides, interactive polls, video clips, and other features currently available in Webinato through selectable "modules" that show up as tabs in the presentation interface.
The announcement web page says you assign each storyboard step to a presenter. That makes me a little nervous, as I have had too many webinars where presenters are swapped out or change roles at the last minute (or even meet each other and decide who's doing what at the last minute!). I hope the presenter assignment is not a mandatory setup choice.
An interesting paragraph on the announcement page says that you can pre-record audio, video, and the progression of each step of the presentation. Then during the live webinar, you can run some or all steps in your storyboard as automatic playback. Attendees can interact with the software and you can switch to live mode at any time. The big question is how well this works with recording of the event as it goes out to the attendees. Many webinar technologies have a problem recording content that is being played back from previously-recorded clips. Webinato will need to make sure that everything can be captured exactly as it is seen in the live webinar.
The announcement letter states that FLOW is being designed specifically to support marketing webinars. The letter says that "a FLOW version geared toward Training webinars may be in the works in the future." It also says that "FLOW may not fit all of your current needs, in which case, you will continue to rely on the present Webinato platform." Hmmm… it sounds like the company has decided to really focus on the single-use case of lead generation in much the same way that ON24 did a couple of years ago.
The FLOW web page mentions "advanced analytics" on registrants and attendees - which is extremely important in a marketing-focused product. They'll want to make it easy for marketers to track and share performance of invitation channels, registration page versions, lead prioritization, and so on. I'll be interested to see what they come up with.
The announced release date for Webinato FLOW is by the end of March. That's very near future, so the beta period should be starting soon. I hope to get a look at the beta, but to be fair to the vendor, I won't share details or concerns publicly until the company has had a chance to fix and finalize things. After all, that's the whole point of a beta program.
I'm looking forward to seeing what Webinato comes up with. Hopefully it will expand on and enhance the flexibility and functionality I have enjoyed in their webinar product for many years.
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