Writing a Webcasting RFP? Consider Webcasting’s Hierarchy of Needs

A hierarchy of webcasting needs

A famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow, hypothesized that there is a hierarchy to humans’ needs. Basic survival needs form the bottom of the pyramid; when people lack air, water, food, sleep, shelter, etc, they can’t really care about much else for long. But once those needs are satisfied, they become concerned with the next level of the pyramid and so on. They progress through the need for safety, then social belonging, then esteem, and finally self-actualization. To be a fully psychologically healthy person, all of the needs must be met. But the highest levels cannot be achieved unless each of the lower levels is satisfied.

It’s a theory that doesn’t just apply well to humans in general; we like to think about it in terms of technology as well. For a given piece of tech, there’s a bare minimum that needs to be met. When that level of functionality is there, users’ expectations rise. They demand progressively more. Only when the highest expectations are met can the user be fully satisfied.

Webcasting is no exception. Today’s webcasting has matured to this point. It’s no longer enough for a webcasting platform to simply work. (Although that’s certainly the bare minimum!) Today’s users have much higher expectations. Veteran webcasters have seen the disasters and know what to look for to ensure a seamless event. Some have lost faith with earlier platforms and are looking for something more sophisticated. And even those just getting started now come prepared, having read up on analyst reports about capabilities.

So what are our building blocks? What are the fundamental needs from a webcasting platform that you should make sure your Webcasting RFP covers?

Level 1: Reliable Performance

If your webcast fails, there was no point.

Worse, actually – it’s an embarrassment.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways things can go wrong. Just like people need things like air, water, food, and shelter, webcasts need a number of elements to go right. Here are some topics to make sure you cover in your RFP:

  • System Transparency – To make sure your webcasting platform is stable and reliable you need to know when something does go wrong. Your production team needs dashboards that give insight into what’s failing so they can fix it.
  • Bandwidth Optimization– Video takes a fair amount of bandwidth. Making sure everyone gets a good viewing experience without throttling the rest of your network takes some pre-planning. eCDN can help reduce the load.
  • Services – Each organization is different and each event may have different needs so look into which services your vendor can offer in-house from planning to live production via remote & onsite white-glove services, encoder rentals, AV/Production services, systems integrations, and  post event management.

Level 2: Streamlined Workflows

Once you’re sure your webcast will actually be delivered, then it’s time to worry about making the process less hair-raising. Maslow said people need safety and social belonging. Similarly, webcasters need confidence and webcasting workflows that tie into the rest of the surrounding workflows. Make sure to include questions about:

  • Preview Mode – Check your stream before you go live so that everything looks flawless. This will also cut down on how much editing you need to do afterwards.
  • Live to VOD – A flow that automatically transitions from live broadcast to a VOD recording not only reduces effort, it makes it easier for people to find the recording later.
  • Flexibility – Ideally, you want a platform that’s flexible enough to be customized so that the workflows fit your organization’s needs. Ask about the extent to which you can customize workflows to fit your own webcasting needs.

Level 3: Effortless Engagement

When the technical hurdles have been cleared and webcasting has become a seamless part of the workflow, it’s time to take the user experience to the next level. If people in general want self-actualization, so do webcasting presenters and attendees. Consider the following in your RFP questionnaire:

  • Interactive Features Beyond Polls and Q&A – Most solutions will likely include basic elements of interaction, such as poll and Q&A. To really stand out, you’d want to offer a user experience that goes beyond the basics. Features such as Answer on air help audiences keep up better with Q&A, and make it easier for VOD viewers to follow along. An interactive player lets each audience member focus on what’s most important to them, whether it’s the slides or the speaker.
  • Live Closed Captioning – Live closed captioning make the content fully accessible to everyone.
  • Post-production – Adding some editing after the cameras stop rolling can bring a little more polish. Adding overlays and removing mistakes will make your VOD content shine. Does your webcasting partner provide this service?

Bottom-line, if you want your webcasting team and audience to be satisfied with their webcast experience, it’s critical to make sure you’re fully addressing all of their needs. Look for an end-to-end webcasting solution so you can address all those needs in one place, for live-to-VOD, platform to delivery, solution to services. Shouldn’t your webcasts achieve the highest levels of self-actualization? Here’s to successful webcasts and good RFP questions that will get you there.

Good luck!

Mapping out your webcasting needs? Read “11 Steps to a Flawless Webcast.”


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