Summary of Demo Software

Every year at the Fall Comdex show from about 1998 on, Cisco CEO John Chambers would call in his keynote speech for eLearning to become a major phenomenon. John was right about the magnitude but his timing was off. It took the triple whammy of 9/11, economic bust, and the beginning of widespread broadband adoption to provide

the impetus for eLearning's take-off. But the IT field has, due to its own doldrums, been relatively late adopters.Documentation and technical writing, like Rodney Dangerfield, gets no respect. But IT and organizations in general are finding that their branding message is intimately tied up with how well they present their product and service throughout the whole purchase and use lifecycle. Getting started easily, helping out effectively when things don't appear to be working and getting the most out of a product, software program, or service is a vital part of the branding message.

The Litmus Test

For example, this reviewer's litmus test for software in particular is how well a software vendor supports me throughout product adoption. I want to get up to speed as fast as possible. Good, simple getting started docs are vital. I want to be cleared through my own dumb-bell mistakes (the FAQ question problem) as quickly and gracefully as possible. And these days a well written Users Manual is a prize which wins top marks in all our reviews. But "tell me" can now be effectively supplemented by "show me" in which demo software shows exactly how an important task is accomplished not just with software but any product. The implications are enormous:

- more effective "see how its actually done" training;
- dramatically reduced routine support and service calls;
- accelerated adoption of new ideas and methods;
- better understanding of the full utility of your product or service.

True, demo software is just a part of an organizations overall documentation, training and support services. True also that such stalwarts of documentation such as Adobe Framemaker, Corel Ventura, Quark Express, and Help Files in their many incarnations will continue to play vital roles. But the logjam in high end training and demo software with the likes of Authorware, Director and other complex and expensive learning systems has been broken by the availability of these new breed of easy to use, highly portable and relatively inexpensive demo software programs. And as we shall see in an upcoming review of the burgeoning new web conferencing options as well as demo software - the ability to deliver on the Missouri motto, "Show Me", takes on new meaning and it is competitive advantage.

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