Author: Jim Lundy Date: April 28, 2013
Topic: Collaboration Research Note Number: 2013-11
Issue: Who are the collaboration providers and how will they evolve?
Summary: Content authoring and sharing continue to evolve. New tools are easier to use and offer more ways to create and share rich content.
Once, paper documents ruled the office, but the new world of work is founded on rich digital multimedia content. This growing portfolio of rich content continues to be a challenge, but accessing and viewing it is rapidly becoming routine due to the growing abundance of storage and bandwidth. Today’s challenges are in the creation part of the content lifecycle, especially when non-specialist end users rather than media professionals create it. Content authoring skills no longer focus on documents, but on finding fast and easy ways to let non-specialists combine text, graphics, images, voice and video into a coherent and compelling story that can inspire, inform or entertain.
If we need any proof that tablets are here to stay, we have only to look at how much they help us create and share this content, and how easy they make it (see Note 1). The next generation of content authoring tools will be natively mobile and even easier to use. This research note introduces four of the hot vendors that are currently building these new tools (see Note 2).
What are the implications here for knowledge workers? Well for starters, it is still hard – very hard – to manage rich media on a Windows system. Yes, you can now get Movie Maker, but compared to Windows, Macs, iPads and Android tablets have more authoring apps for rich content and they capture, manage and deliver it far more easily and consistently.
How does that play out in the business world? In Silicon Valley, The primary choice of a work computer has tilted towards the Apple iMac and MacBook. It has also shifted away from Windows at most major universities. As the need for more rich content grows, what does that mean for Windows-based platforms? On top of that, tablets are surging into schools and selected user groups in the enterprise. Content needs to be leveraged across all these platforms. As the tablet becomes more of a preferred platform, tools are emerging that allow for easier content creation and usage.
Aragon Research has identified the following content authoring tool providers as hot vendors that cover a broad spectrum of authoring needs, particularly for video, learning and marketing, three of the top areas for content authoring. Some of these tools go beyond things we’ve seen before, while others make the process of creating great content much easier than we have seen, but all of them stand out as innovative and promising.
Brainshark offers an easy way to create multimedia presentations that are hosted in the cloud. This allows just about any knowledge worker to create their own rich media file. Content Marketers can create rich presentations for use on websites. While the native tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote are good, Brainshark makes adding audio to those already created presentations easy to do. This makes it an ideal tool for content marketing and training.
One of the things that makes Brainshark hot is its recently launched freemium tool SlideShark, an easy way to view PowerPoint slides on iPhones or iPad. As Tablets continue to expand their presence in the enterprise, SlideShark offers an easy way for individuals or teams (via premium version) to show PowerPoint and even broadcast your slides over the web. SlideShark is an effective tool for use in Sales situations and it keeps the formatting and animations in PowerPoint, something that is critical in a sales presentation.
- Company: Brainshark
- Products: Multiple
- Website: www.brainshark.com
GoAnimate is a video content authoring platform that is as close to video infographic creation as we have seen. It allows 2D animated videos to be created very quickly, either with templates or from scratch using simple drag & drop tools. The high degree of customization is what is attractive with GoAnimate.
GoAnimate is much more than talking avatars, it enables full scene adaptation, including avatar movement, camera movement, props and effects that can all be blended together to make a unique, customized video. Videos can support either voiceover narration or lip-synced dialogue. Camera framing or camera moves can be changed as simply as dragging the corner of a box. The result is a custom video that can tell a story quickly and inexpensively. In a world that cannot consume enough visual content, GoAnimate represents a new class of simple, powerful and inexpensive video authoring for the educator and the content marketer.
- Company: GoAnimate
- Products: Multiple
- Website: www.goanimate.com
KlabLab, a new startup from Pleasanton CA, has set out to revolutionize the way content is created through mobile phones and tablet devices using an app called Stitch. Traditionally, content is presented manually by an individual in front of a group or on their own. Stitch creates a self-playing video that combines a user’s content with professional video effects in minutes.
Stitch features the ability to quickly add pictures from your camera roll, Google Images, Instagram, and through user-added text. You can use one of Stitch’s many pre-formatted templates (Pitch Idea, Advertisement, etc.), or start from scratch. Chose your music and video effects and the app does all of the editing for you, leaving you with an MP4 video file that can be easily shared through email, text and your social networks. Stitch goes beyond Twitter’s Vine to make the process of creating content easier and more intuitive. Stitch is designed to bring out the creative-side in each of us.
- Company: KlabLab
- Product: Stitch
- Website: www.klablab.com (and the iTunes app store)
While Mzinga is an established name in social marketing and social learning, their authoring tools qualify for a Hot Vendor rating. Mzinga Publisher is a complete learning authoring environment that makes the process of creating a rich, interactive course a snap. There is no need for a separate testing application, since games and assessments can be added to a course.
One of the challenges for learning course authors is the need to use multiple tools. Mzinga Publisher enables multiple formats to be included, such as Application Simulation capabilities from Mzinga Firefly or other tools. Enterprises should look at more integrated tools such as Mzinga to speed up the content development process.
- Company: Mzinga
- Product: Publisher
- Website: www.mzinga.com
- Enterprises should evaluate new ways to capture and share content.
- In many cases, professionals will use multiple tools.
- Ease of use is the new criterion. Evaluate tools that make it fast and easy to create content.
- Enterprises should standardize where knowledge workers store their content, since the issue of locating content can quickly spiral out of control.
Note 1. Tablets Are Highly Suitable for Media Authoring
By incorporating media hardware like cameras, microphones and drawing pens in an extremely light and portable platform with a highly transparent and intuitive interface, they go beyond the thirty-year-old mouse/pointer metaphor in many ways that are beneficial to content authors.
Case in point: Viewers don’t notice it consciously, but photos look subtly wrong if they’re not level. Experts know this, and have the knowledge and equipment to make sure that they are. But tablets know when they’re level; you can even make them refuse to take a picture if they’re not. So just like autofocus and auto-exposure, tablets can use invisible technology to boost a casual user’s skills up to the semipro level.
Note 2. Hot Vendors in Content Authoring