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An Interview with Michael Doyle

In this interview, Michael talks about Impatica, online rich media and PowerPoint.

Product/Version: PowerPoint

Michael Doyle Michael Doyle is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Of Impatica. He has founded several successful high technology companies including Computer Innovations which became Canada’s largest personal computer sales and service organization with revenues of over one billion dollars annually. Mr. Doyle served as a member of Canada’s National Advisory Council on the Information Highway and on the Ministers Council on Educational Technology.

He started his career as a Systems Engineer with IBM Corporation and co-founded Impatica in 1998. Other founders included his daughter Catherine and son Eric both of whom are Computer Engineering graduates who continue to play key roles in the Company.

Geetesh: Tell us something about Impatica.

Impatica Michael: Impatica products enable users of Microsoft PowerPoint and Macromedia Director to deliver their content plug-in free, to Java-enabled computers and other devices, even at dial-up speeds. These presentations can be synchronized to video and scrolling text, complete with indexing, navigation, and search capabilities using Impatica OnCue. Approximately 2,000 organizations including some 1,500 colleges and universities and hundreds of corporations use Impatica products to communicate more effectively with hundreds of thousands of people every day.

Geetesh: Where would the online rich media industry be in a year from now?

Michael: I believe that there will be continued adoption of online rich media as a way to effectively communicate with an increasingly distributed and mobile audience. Bandwidth will continue to be an issue, particularly as mobile workers adopt the use of low-bandwidth cellular modems for their Internet connections. I think you will also see an increase in the delivery of online rich media presentations directly to a variety of mobile devices. These devices will use a number of operating systems and delivery platforms. MMS and J2ME MIDP seem to be the emerging leaders.

Geetesh: Most of Impatica's competitors have used either Flash or WindowsMedia based solutions as part of their online rich media strategy. Why did Impatica use the unconventional Java route?

Michael: Flash, Shockwave, Windows Media and Real Networks based solutions are much more limited in their reach across platforms. For example, many banks still have pockets of OS/2 machines and other legacy systems. Once you extend delivery outside of the organization, say to people in their homes or on mobile devices, there is no control over the client device. Our customers, who include many of the largest companies in the world, tell us they like both the security and platform independence that Java provides. Plus, our player applet streams just before the content, so viewers don’t have to worry about versions or downloads, eliminating many of the headaches experienced with the plug-ins you mentioned.

In addition, since we have developed our own multimedia playback system on the Java platform rather than relying on a third-party’s multimedia player, we are able to tailor it to suit the needs of our customers. The result is that we are able to more faithfully reproduce the PowerPoint experience, including its great slide transitions, animations and interactivity. Some of these features would not have been possible to achieve on another platform.

Geetesh: You are the first online rich media vendor to go cross platform by providing a desktop based solution now for the Mac as well. What motivated that decision?

Michael: Approximately 50% of the computers in US schools today are Macintosh. Even within our corporate client base, we find pockets of Mac users. Many are creating content using PowerPoint and are facing the same issues of file size, platform and security as their counterparts using Windows. In fact, in many cases, these issues are amplified by the fact that they are trying to share PowerPoint files with Windows users who have different versions of PowerPoint and fonts installed. By using Impatica for PowerPoint, Mac users can ensure that their PowerPoint show—and more importantly, their message—will reach their entire audience just the way they intended.

We announced both Impatica for PowerPoint and Impatica OnCue so that Mac users would have the same options open to them as Windows users. We simply were responding to a stated user need.

Geetesh: What new features are being unwrapped in the next version of Impatica?

Michael: We just began shipping Impatica for PowerPoint version 3 for Windows last week. With this version, impaticized presentations look even better, since text and shapes have smooth edges. In addition, it has the major advantages of supporting the great transitions and complex animations that were new in PowerPoint XP and 2003, plus a variety of other PowerPoint features such as transparency, animated GIFs, and sound on click. We also simplified publishing to Learning Management Systems, automated SCORM package creation and added a new file format capable of stand-alone playback. All of this means that there is now even more flexibility in the creation and the delivery of engaging presentations.

Geetesh: Tell us more about your support infrastructure.

Michael: Impatica is a world-wide organization with support in North America, the UK and Japan. We provide support by telephone and e-mail. Training is also available. Through very active user groups in both the US and UK we get a great deal of support and very helpful feedback from our customers. Listening to and supporting our customers is the most important thing we do.

Geetesh: PowerPoint gets the blame for everything from space shuttle disasters to disaster board meetings. What do you think?

Michael: There is no doubt that PowerPoint can be used to turn a very good message into a very boring presentation. I must admit that I have almost bored some people to death with some of my PowerPoint presentations. Good tools don’t make good presentations. Creative use of these tools is the key to success.

Some of our customers are using PowerPoint in conjunction with Impatica for PowerPoint and Impatica OnCue to generate some incredible presentations. I have seen some wonderful stuff. A professor at Johns Hopkins University, for example, has some fabulous content describing surgical techniques for joint alignment. As I understand it, he was the first or at least one of the first to perform hip replacement surgery. Through his impaticized PowerPoint presentations, surgeons around the world are learning directly from one of the best how to gain a higher degree of success as they relieve pain.

He is able to use a tool he knows, PowerPoint, and with Impatica’s products he can deliver his message securely around the world without regard for platform or bandwidth. In my opinion, that’s a powerful pair!

I could go on and on about the fantastic examples I have seen ranging from church groups of all denominations to major corporations to schoolchildren. PowerPoint is a fantastic tool. Impatica for PowerPoint and Impatica OnCue make it possible to impaticize these presentations for hassle free Internet delivery.

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