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Thursday, October 22, 2009

102 Uses for Mediasite -- Funeral Webcasting? Not Kidding.

We spend a decent amount of time on Sonic Foundry ($0.72) not simply because of our ownership stake, but because we truly believe in the Mediasite franchise and know that customers love the solution. Mediasite fills an important market need and does so extremely well, making life easier and more productive for customers. As a result, customers are regularly looking to use Mediasite in ways beyond lecture capture.

For example, the University of Maryland (from this August 2008 presentation by the school's CIO):

We expect many universities will follow the lead of the University of Maryland. All applications make sense. In addition, Sonic Foundry is hosting two timely Webinars regarding H1N1 in November (see this link for more information):
  • Fortify Your Institutional H1N1 Plan with Lecture Capture: Mediasite at Washington State University
  • Creating an Online Conference to Reduce H1N1 Exposure: A Tale of Two Virtual Meetings
This presentation next week also should be interesting:
  • Webinar - Judging A Book By Its Cover: What Does Your Webcast Say About Your Event and Your Brand? (by Noble Financial - see this link for Noble's June 2009 conference catalog; side note: more financial firms should use this format as most Wall Street related Webcasts remain poor; Noble is way ahead of the pack!)
BUT, let's shift gears away from education/conferences and look at potential other uses, including a surprising new use for Mediasite.

Perhaps two years ago, Sonic Foundry introduced "101 Uses for Mediasite". The list is comprehensive and includes everything from mainstream applications such as distance learning and conference capture, to potentially less common uses (but still good ideas) such as nutrition guidelines and recycling instructions. Here's the list (to see large version, please download on right side of this page) :

However, we came across a 102nd use today: funeral Webcasting. This wasn't our idea, but comes from a serious article in IEEE Spectrum that a business colleague happened to send our way in relation to a completely different topic. The article, entitled "Funeral Webcasting is Alive and Well", opens the following:
  • If webcasting a funeral seems a little, well, ghoulish to you, you’re not alone. The decade-old service has been a hard sell to most funeral directors until recently. But the advent of cheaper broadband, the financial strain of travel, and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have all contributed to increased use of the Web as a tool to connect loved ones during such times of need.
More, with some stats:
  • ”It’s really come up in the last two years, as more webcasting software companies have entered the market, made it more user-friendly, and more aggressively pitched it to funeral directors,” says John Reed, owner of the Dodd & Reed Funeral Home, in Webster Springs, W.Va., and president of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), in Brookfield, Wis.
  • Funeral webcasting is starting to spring up in Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Reed estimates that 10 to 20 percent of NFDA’s 20,000 members in 40 countries offer it.
And insight into one service provider:
  • The ubiquity of social media has raised everyone’s comfort level with life taking place online as well as off, says Matthew Fiorillo, who owns the Ballard-Durand Funeral Home in White Plains, N.Y. He’s now webcasting four or five funerals a month; he only began offering it in October 2008. ”Every time I arranged a funeral, I’d ask if there was a family member who wanted to attend but couldn’t. Eighty or 90 percent said yes,” he says. ”Then I’d ask how they would feel about seeing a service live online, and they were open to it.”
We're not sure if any funeral homes are using Mediasite or if Sonic Foundry has ventured down this path. Funeral webcasting is far outside of the company's bread and butter, institutional focus areas and, no doubt, carries different economics. However, the trend clearly illustrates just how ubiquitous Webcasting and rich media is becoming in our lives.

We can now fairly say that Mediasite has 102 potential uses.

Happy investing,

Jeffrey Walkenhorst

Disclosure: long SOFO.
© 2009 Jeffrey Walkenhorst
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  1. Jeffrey, I think you picked a loser here.
    SOFO just announced a reverse split effective November 17th.

  2. Hello Anonymous, how do you figure? Please see my update on the reverse split -

    Fundamentals remain intact with healthy growth and best-in-class Webcasting platform.



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