IBM Reaches Chinese Audience With Webcast

Attracted by a rapidly growing corporate IT audience and economic potential, IBM Corp. is using a Webcast to promote its Websphere software platform across China.

“The China and Asia Pacific areas are both strong, growing economies,” said Ed Harbor, director of Websphere commerce at IBM. “The number of people online in those regions is also growing rapidly, and a Webcast is an ideal way to promote our products to them in a way in which they are able to actively participate.”

The 60-minute Webcast is especially useful in reaching people across China's vast land area.

“With 24-hour-a-day and seven-day-a-week access to the Webcasts, people can access them no matter what the time,” he said. “They can come back and look at it whenever it is most convenient to them. And a Webcast is also a good way of displaying the capabilities of our technology.”

To promote the Webcast, IBM ran an e-mail campaign to IT managers and executives in large companies. It would not discuss the number of e-mails sent or the number of visits to the Webcast.

Rich Mikita, senior vice president for ITworld, the online publisher of broadband interactive media that helped create the Webcast for IBM, said the amount of traffic generated by the Webcast is comparable to what the attendance would be for a similar Webcast run in the United States. Typically, ITworld Webcasts pull several hundred to a few thousand within a month.

The Webcast was originally created as an English version for use in the United States. Mikita said the cost of converting the audio and text to Mandarin Chinese was less than $15,000.

The Webcast, which contains audio along with video stills and graphics, highlights the Websphere software platform and gives Chinese businesses an introduction to an e-business infrastructure. Webcast viewers also can hear experts discuss new ways to develop e-business solutions using the Websphere software platform.

There is a survey at the end of the Webcast. IBM is using the results to gauge people's interest in the Webcast and in Websphere. IBM also asks for basic demographic information and whether viewers wish to receive more information. The Webcast also provides a phone number that viewers can call for more information.

The Websphere software platform generally costs $7,000 to $35,000, depending on the features.

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