Web conference software equals big savings

Prior to 2001, Documentum Inc. had used a smattering of Web conferencing platforms to support internal training, corporate communications and outbound marketing activities. Problem was, the Web conferencing systems were becoming increasingly expensive to run and placed severe restrictions on the number of people who could access them.

At that time, John Grubbs, manager for education information systems and e-learning at the document management software maker, had a mandate from his chief financial officer not to increase Web conferencing costs. “We were going to lose 30 per cent of the service level if we’d stayed” with one Web conferencing vendor at the dollar amount the CFO had allocated, he says.

Enter Cambridge, Mass.-based Interwise Inc. To start, Interwise offered Pleasanton, Calif.-based Documentum a hosted Web conferencing platform called ECP Connect that supports an unlimited number of users for a US$75,000 flat-fee annual license. In comparison, bids from competing vendors ranged from US$290,000 to US$360,000 for 300 concurrent-user licenses.

In addition, Interwise was able to provide Documentum with several technical advances that other vendors weren’t able to offer, such as voice-over-IP (VoIP) support, editable recording capabilities and integrated scheduling for Microsoft Outlook.

Documentum has achieved other benefits from the Web conferencing system. In 2000, the last year that the company was using Web conferencing technologies from other vendors, it paid US$450,000 in overage charges, says Grubbs. Those fees have been eliminated through the flat-fee agreement with Interwise.

Moreover, because the other Web conferencing vendors didn’t support VoIP, Documentum’s phone bridge and other costs swelled to more than US$600,000 in 2000. Those costs have also been eliminated.

More important, the Interwise system has effectively supported Documentum’s education business. After Sept. 11, 2001, revenue from Documentum’s classroom training dropped and then flattened out when customers became reluctant to fly employees for classroom training, says Grubbs.

However, revenue for the company’s online training courses supported by the Interwise system have grown steadily since they were launched two and a half years ago and now account for 15 per cent of the division’s annual sales, says Grubbs. In fact, the last quarter’s revenue for the North American education division was approximately US$1.3 million.

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