During a period in which the economy is forcing many companies to scrutinize every line of their budgets, travel is getting the ax. While that may be true, meetings don't go away -- and therein lies a tremendous opportunity for Web conferencing. With this in mind, Boston-based open-source Web meeting company Dimdim unveiled its latest version with features and functionality generally expected from the larger stalwarts in this space.
According to Steve Chazin, Dimdim's chief marketing officer, the genesis for enhancements in version 5 came from the same place all prior updates have: the customers. "Like always, we are adding improvements to our product that customers are requesting," he says. "We thought it would take six months to get [this release] out, but due to our strong team, we pushed it out ahead of schedule."
Of the new features and functionality in the latest version, Chazin believes that there are three that stand out:
- desktop sharing, which Chazin says is faster, secure, and easier now since there are no outside installations needed;
- webinar widgets, providing one-click promotion and registration, are automatically created whenever a user schedules a meeting, and can be shared on any Web site via Facebook or Twitter; and
- registration report, in which users can now obtain a list of the name and time of everyone who registered for an event and whether they were invited or self-registered via a Dimdim webinar widget.
Sound familiar? Good, says Bill Pray, an analyst focusing on collaboration and content strategies for Burton Group, a Midvale, Utah-based consulting firm. He explains that the features themselves are to be expected from larger players in this market, and in that aim, Dimdim is simply catching up. "Dimdim's differentiation is that they are open source," he says. "The pieces they are adding here catch them up to more proprietary functionality available in the market. The interesting thing is that a lot of this is in the open-source version."
The benefit of going with a provider like Dimdim for Web conferencing, Pray continues, will most likely be utilized by small-to-midsize (SMB) companies, or specific verticals including education. "It is very attractive as a low-cost solution as long as you have the expertise [with open source]," he says. "Even if you don't, there is a professional version at a low price point in a hosted environment." (The company offers Dimdim Pro for $228 per year and Dimdim Free, which has no cost, but not the same level of functionality.)
Chazin echoes Pray's analysis of Dimdim's target markets. "We are already strong in the education, not-for-profit, and religious sectors," he says. "We're trying to target the SMBs because we're finding a lot of demand, growth, and revenue in that segment."
Mark Levitt, vice president of collaboration and enterprise 2.0 strategies for Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC, explains that Dimdim has an opportunity to compete against players including Cisco's WebEx, Citrix's GoToMeeting, and Microsoft. "In today's economy where organizations need to do even more with less, Dimdim is well-positioned to grab attention and share that is likely to last even after the recession is over," he says. "Competitors will feel pressure to offer free conferencing for more than a trial period or a handful of users, and make [Voice-over Internet Protocol] standard functionality in all conferencing configurations, rather than a premium feature costing extra."
While there is great promise, the proof will be in further adoption -- and the effectiveness of Dimdim's upsell efforts, according to Pray. "It'll be interesting to watch how it does and how this works out for them overall," he says. "I believe it will ... continue to be successful among SMBs."
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