(Los Altos, CA) March 21, 2001 – Data Research Associates, a well-established leader in the library automation industry, scored success with the Astound Conference Center. DRA has extended their customer market reach by using Astound to deliver software demonstrations as well as Real Time training sessions for their existing customer base
Since 1975 DRA has been developing leading library automation services - from placing library catalogs online and enabling comprehensive catalogue searches, as well as catalogs worldwide, building Intranets that permit communicate more efficiently with employees.
Data Research Associates has a large customer base-encompassing academic, public, K-12 school, and special libraries. Recently, the company launched a new software product for libraries, DRA Taos, a Windows-based automation system and was challenged with reaching their most remote customer for training on their new software.
DRA needed a way to introduce Taos to its existing customers as the first part of migration to the new software. With such a large number of current customers, not to mention great interest among potential customers, DRA was faced with the challenge of having to reach such a distributed customer base in a timely and effective manner. DRA did not have the resources to deliver on-site software Demonstrations, tailored to the needs of specific libraries. Clearly, a different delivery mechanism was needed.
Customizable solutions teamed with Real Time interaction, courtesy of Astound...
DRA undertook an exhaustive search of the web conferencing vendors currently providing remote demonstration capabilities. Chief among the criteria was the ability to perform live software demos using true application sharing. Most vendors were able to accommodate standard Power Point presentations, but the ability to deliver a reliable solution for sharing software applications was not as common.
Jeff Schilling, Sales Support Team Leader, recalls, "We shied away from products that required the end user to download a client, however small, in order to view the remote session. We rejected other solutions because it required the presentation to be sent to the attendee machine for optimal viewing. On top of that, other solutions were quite expensive and required DRA to purchase and maintain the software onsite."
Astound offered just the right mix of features and pricing to warrant further consideration. DRA's major requirement of true application sharing was met admirably by the Astound Conference Center. Astound was able to answer DRA's two major requirements: the ability to project a software client to remote viewers in real time (mandatory) and the facility for a remote viewer to manipulate the software on the presentation machine (desired).
"We were happy with just those abilities, but Astound has taken great care to load the Conference Center with other helpful features such as attendee management tools (invitations, pre- and post event surveys, password protection for sessions, detailed reports, etc.), user-friendly interface (public and private chat groups, emoticons, an uncluttered screen), and a presenter interface that makes scheduling and running events easy and efficient." Says Jeff of the Astound Conference Center features.
DRA was also pleased to find that a responsive customer service team came with the Astound Conference Center. "This is a company that delivers on its promises. When DRA wanted to customize the message that was sent as the online invitation, Astound told us that feature would be available within three months. They delivered on time not only that feature, but also the ability to customize every message that the software sends out. I receive frequent messages stating that the software and/or servers have been upgraded over the weekend to optimize performance and then read a list of just what optimizations have occurred."
The nuts and bolts on cost
DRA purchased 10 licenses for the Astound Conference Center in August, 2000. We liked the idea of "renting" the software for a year at $500 per seat, and the initial $5,000 expense would be recouped if the Astound solution precluded travel and expenses to even one customer site. After a few weeks of internal testing, DRA began offering remote demonstrations to select customers, by invitation only. The feedback they received was encouraging. Attendees commented on how much they appreciated the live aspect of the demo and the interactive nature of the presentation. Without fail, audiences are very excited when DRA give them the power to use the software right there. This gives them a sense of ownership and makes their experience with Taos a positive one -- they have already used the software and easily, too.
Astound, the solution across all departments
Based on DRA's early success, the training department discovered that Astound could also be used to deliver online training for new Taos customers, specifically our outsourced customers. Many of the librarians have previously been trained on their former DRA software by trainers who came to their library. Surprisingly, post-training comments show that their customers liked online training even better than having a live trainer in the room. Some appreciate asking questions via the private chat feature, others like training delivered to their own desktop. DRA had to double their license to accommodate customer demand for both demos and training sessions.
As for Jeff, he can still be found dashing through your local airport, jetting off to his next destination, only not as much, "The only negative I can see is that my frequent flyer status has been downgraded since I don't have to travel so much anymore. Come to think of it, that's not really a negative."
Founded in 1996, Astound Incorporated is a leading provider of Web conferencing and collaboration services, enabling companies to communicate in real time with their employees, customers and partners. With over 250,000 users of its award-winning presentation software, Astound Incorporated has leveraged this experience to launch the Astound Conference Center.
Requiring only a Web browser, the Astound Conference Center is the ideal way for businesses to conduct live interactive meetings, deliver high impact presentations, demonstrations and training via the web to audiences of one to five thousand.
The company has corporate headquarters in Toronto, Canada, with U.S.-based offices in Los Altos, California. For more information, call 1-877-ASTOUND (278-6863) or visit the company's Web site at www.astound.com.