Bulletin, February/March 2011

ASIS&T Webinars

by Joseph A. Busch

Webinars are an efficient way to deliver information and training to a distributed audience. Instead of gathering everyone in the same room, instructors and students can participate from wherever they are located around the world. The presentation can be recorded and replayed whenever it is convenient. Webinars can transcend the constraints of space and time. 

As an active leader in several professional societies, I have participated in discussions about how to extend the reach of our professional meetings to those who do not have the time or funding to travel to annual or regional meetings. While webinars are in common use by businesses to reach customers and prospective customers to transcend the limits of trade shows and exhibitions, professional societies have been slow to adopt the technology to disseminate services to their dispersed members. 

I was contacted by Vanessa Foss, ASIS&T’s director of membership and meetings, in July 2010 and invited to propose a series of webinars in addition to the usual Annual Meeting taxonomy pre-conferences that I’ve been conducting for the past few years. In early August, we agreed on a series of four seminars that would be presented following the Annual Meeting. These would be:

  • Session 1: Introduction to Business Taxonomies – provide an introduction to what a taxonomy is, the value it offers an organization and the various approaches to getting started designing effective taxonomies. 
  • Session 2: Taxonomy Workshops – present a methodology to leverage an organization’s stakeholders and system end users to design taxonomies; detail a practical approach to user-centered business taxonomy design that yields taxonomy designs that make sense to users, while driving adoption and ensuring the ultimate usability of the designs. 
  • Session 3: Practical Taxonomy Design – detail effective methodologies to take taxonomy design inputs from taxonomy workshops and use them to build and validate taxonomies. 
  • Session 4: Taxonomy Governance and Maintenance – discuss the best practices and lessons learned regarding effective governance to manage an organization’s taxonomies over time, ensuring their effective evolution; detail approaches to ensure the taxonomy is properly maintained. 

We recruited my new colleagues at Project Performance Corporation (PPC) – Zach Wahl, Nick Nylund, Rachel Sondag, Jill Tabuchi and Sheri Darya – to assist in preparing and delivering the webinar series.

The key to offering a seminar series in person or online is getting people to register and ultimately to attend. The ASIS&T staff and PPC team met for a short conference call almost every week over three months to work out the details for developing the content and marketing the series. This effort paid off in webinar registrations. There were 141 logons for the first webinar session. The remaining sessions had 91 or more logons. These levels are consistent with the response to the webinar survey that was completed by more than 40% of the first webinar attendees (note that the following data is just for the first webinar in the series). Figure 1 shows that of those who answered the question, 85% were ASIS&T members and 15% were non-members. 

FIGURE 1. ASIS&T members vs. non-members

Figure 2 shows that 60% of those who answered the question said that they definitely would attend another webinar. 

FIGURE 2. Plans to attend another webinar

Figure 3 shows that 78% of those who answered the question rated the webinar content as excellent or very good.

FIGURE 3. Webinar rating

Based on this preliminary data, it appears that the initial ASIS&T webinar was successful at reaching many members as well as some non-members. The webinar recording is available to ASIS&T members at www.asis.org/Conferences/webinars/2010/taxonomywebinars.php. Presentations can be downloaded at www.taxonomystrategies.com. Future webinars are being planned as a new program component of the ASIS&T member portfolio.

Joseph A. Busch is senior principal, information management, at Project Performance Corporation. He can be reached by email at jbusch<at>ppc.com