Aberdeen InSight: CIOs Embracing Web Seminars

By Wyeth Lynch

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Overview: A recent poll of IT executives in Aberdeen's Technology Forecasting Consortium (TFC) found that nearly three-quarters turn to Web seminars (i.e., Webinars) at least once per quarter as a way to learn about a new technology, gain new business ideas, and evaluate suppliers. The adoption of these Web-based information sessions is a signal to IT vendors that Webinars are an effective means for communicating marketing messages in a format that many CIOs are embracing.


Technology vendors are constantly challenged as they try to catch the attention of CIOs and IT decision-makers, whose schedules are increasingly busy. The proliferation of information on new technologies -- from trade publications to online magazines to industry newsletters -- presents a haze of information that competes for CIOs' eyes. The competition between static sources of information, however, has created an opportunity for a more interactive and effective medium to communicate a message.

According to a recent Aberdeen survey of IT executives, 40% of respondents indicated using Webinars at least once a month. In fact, nearly 15% of CIOs said that they attend a Webinar at least once per week. And, an impressive 75% of respondents indicated that they participate in the online sessions at least once per quarter.

The most popular reason CIOs and other IT decision-makers participate in Webinars is for technology education (a 75% response rate). Sixty-two percent responded that they participate for exposure to new business ideas. Implementation strategies and supplier evaluation ranked lower on the respondents' list of motives behind attending Webinars -- 41.7% and 39.6%, respectively.

Live Versus On-Demand

When asked what kind of Webinar they prefer, 70% of survey respondents indicated that they preferred an on-demand Webinar, which they could access at their leisure, reiterating the fact that a CIO's time is precious. The other 30% said they preferred a live Webinar in which they had the ability to ask questions of the presenters.

Slide Shows a Must

Aberdeen asked the survey respondents to rate the importance of different media features in the Webinars they view, on a scale of 5 (highest importance) to 1 (lowest importance).

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The two most important features, according to respondents, were the availability of synchronized slide shows and available transcripts: More than three-quarters (77.8%) of CIOs rated the availability of synchronized slide shows as a 4 or 5 on the scale of most important features, just ahead of the 75.6% who gave ratings of 4 or 5 to the availability of transcripts.

Following behind, in order of importance, was the availability of audio, as indicated by 65.1%, and live demos, at 62.2%.

Video and the ability to ask questions were low priorities when compared with the previously mentioned features. Aberdeen was surprised with the fact that more CIOs did not rate highly the ability to ask presenters questions. However, this finding is consistent with the CIOs' need for flexible access to prerecorded Webinars.

Aberdeen Conclusions: The demanding schedule of IT executives has made them among the most difficult people to approach inside most enterprises. Aberdeen's research shows that technology suppliers can cut through the many things competing for a CIO's attention by using on-demand Webinars that they can access at their leisure. Aberdeen's research also shows that CIOs are frequently using Webinars as a means for technology education and to expose themselves to new business ideas.

The most effective means of catering to IT executives includes a live Webinar that has a slide show presentation and the ability to ask questions, followed by a hosting of a recorded version of the Webinar that is available on demand and supplies transcripts. This method of complementary presentations serves two segments of IT executives -- those who wish to engage in a live presentation and those who need more flexibility in their schedules.

Wyeth Lynch is a research associate at Aberdeen Group in Boston. Dave Aponovich is Web editor. For more information go to www.Aberdeen.com.