I have been recommending omNovia web conferencing quite a bit lately, as it fills many different usage needs with a nice combination of power and user-friendliness. I first reviewed the product in July of last year, with a follow-up shortly thereafter.
It’s now eight months since those writeups, so I think I can talk about omNovia again without being accused of undue favoritism or special favors (By the way, I don’t resell web conferencing licenses, I don’t accept advertising from web conferencing vendors, and I don’t engage in kickback deals with any vendors. If I say I like something, it’s because I like it.)
The company has been adding and refining features in a steady stream. They put their “Recast” recording feature into full development (mentioned at the end of my original article) and then added a way to play back a recorded session either on its own as a live event - including registration for new audience members, or as content included in a live event so that a presenter could introduce the subject or answer audience questions.
They also wrapped technology and services in a bundled offering called “StageToWeb” – designed to help producers integrate local in-room presentations with remote audience participation.
Another nice little feature addition of late is the ability for hosts and presenters to highlight audience questions and comments in different colors. Since the colors have no built-in meaning, you can choose your own interpretation and actions. I immediately saw it as valuable when you have a moderator reading audience questions in a live question and answer session. Each presenter could use colors to indicate “Don’t ask this one” and “Ask me this one”. Or if you have various people responsible for answering audience comments via chat, you could use color coding to assign comments to the appropriate helper.
I’m particularly pleased about the addition of payment processing as an option for omNovia customers. Now you can elect to sign up for this extra-cost option and include fee collection as a part of the signup and registration process for an event. omNovia is using PayPal as the payment processor of choice, so to collect money you must have a PayPal business or merchant account that is set up and verified for payment collection.
You link your PayPal account internally to your omNovia account as a one-time setup task (No programming involved… Just fill in the proper information fields). Then you can create any webinar as a payment-required event with its own pricing and discount codes. Pricing can be specified in US Dollars, Euros, or British Pounds. You can set up special discount codes, each with a reduction off the list price given as an absolute amount or as a percentage.
There is also a fancier integration for customers doing programming with omNovia’s APIs to integrate single sign on systems. You can set up different registration links and prices, for instance to offer one price to members coming from their logged-in account page and a different price for “outsiders.”
Payment is entered with standard credit card information, rather than using PayPal’s front end. So your registrants don’t see any PayPal logos and don’t need accounts. Payment goes directly into your own PayPal merchant account. There is no “collect and distribute” buffer through omNovia, who also does not see the entered financial information.
There are no built in facilities for processing refunds. You are on your own to deal with no-shows or dissatisfied viewers. [UPDATE March 30: Somebody has been reading my posts! You can now initiate a refund directly from the omNovia Event Manager console. Nice.]
The second big new enhancement is the ability to set up events with “Multi Channel Rooms.” Each room is associated with your choice of a supported language. As attendees log in, they are greeted with a choice of which language they would like to hear. You need to set up a presenter or interpreter associated with the audio stream in the subordinate channel room. That person would listen to the stream coming from the main room and then simultaneously translate it and speak into the second room’s audio line. Participants would hear the translated audio.
The system shows the same visual presentation content to all participants, so I could foresee a useful future enhancement (not planned or announced… are you listening, omNovia?) that would let a company create a translated version of their slides and show the translation in the second channel room. The subordinate rooms would be slaved to the master, so that when the presenter moved a slide forward in English, it would move the slides forward in the other rooms simultaneously. Wouldn’t that be nifty?!
UDPATE MARCH 23: omNovia asked me to clarify that you aren't actually managing two separate meeting rooms with separate logins. It's all conducted in one virtual meeting room and the choice of language stream at login determines which audio and chat channel the user sees. Sorry for the confusion.
I really enjoy seeing continued development and innovation in web conferencing and I love reporting on feature additions, especially when they are relatively uncommon (each of these last two features have been introduced by other web conferencing vendors as well, but they are still very rare). If you are a vendor and are feeling jealous of this coverage, let me know what is new and innovative in your product!