Monday, December 10, 2007

Your Industry Digital Double

The idea that a person can have an image management need based on the information being aggregated about them online is relatively new.

But the idea that it is important for a company to manage its online image is a given. After the first few years of web site building and widespread adoption of the internet as a business to consumer - business to business communications, marketing and sales environment, companies understood that how they were represented online was a reflection of the company itself.

In the mid 1990's there were a myriad of instances of where an online image of a company was open to the danger of misrepresentation. Branch offices that built web sites with the company name were contacted by headquarters and told to hand over domain names. Big companies lost some luster when their first forays into the web space were less than the quality their brand had worked hard to build. Small operations took pains to look larger to the online world, and small marketing companies with a few HTML coders grew quickly as the demand exploded.

Since then, companies have in large part managed to align their online impression with their brand and message.

So it is not surprising that many of us check out companies online before we ever run across them in our real lives. I do, so when I ran across Transmedia as mentioned in the last post I thought it an interesting example of two different impressions being made by the same company.

Obviously I liked the message from the PR Newswire I quoted. It reflected a very clear articulation of why virtual community and social networking sites offer "free" access to some very cool features and environments. They are telling us, "Trade us your personal info and we will show you a good time, (or provide you a valuable service)".

As this quote by this company impressed me, I also checked out some articles on their products, including Glide Present, which was very positively reviewed, Glide Write, introduced earlier and the proclamation in August that "Transmedia is on a roll" with its Sync product. Pretty impressive coverage.

I probably could have saved some time by just going to their web site. That's because the home page is simply a scroll down of news articles about the company and their products.

At the top of the home page is a link to company information, then to products, then to news (which is essentially the home page) and then a menu item that provides logos and screen shots for those aforementioned articles above. Not really much more.

I dug down, as I normally do, to the company information. In particular I like to check out the About, Board of Directors and Management information. The About page features a paragraph on the company which is pretty heady stuff for a few sentences.

It starts with "TransMedia is leading the emergence of rights and identity based, compatible and integrated multipurpose software and services for corporations and consumers." and covers more.

The management page consists of one person, who does have impressive experience, Donald Leka, Chairman and CEO. Now if you go down to the next link to the Board of Directors page it lists... Donald Leka. There is also an advisers page, which has a couple of definite heavyweights featured, with significant media and technology experience. That is still only three people, of which only one appears to be directly employed by the company.

The career page states that Transmedia is a mid-sized company with top notch benefits for application developers. The site itself does not give the impression of a mid sized company.

But my interest was in the products page. That is where I had hoped to find out more about the capabilities and perhaps try them out. The products page drops down to three product listings. Select the first product and you get the same three products listed in the drop down. This time they are listed on the page in logo form. Click on each separate drop down and each takes you to the same page with the three product logo listing. Click on a logo and you get a graphic splash page with three choices: Log in, Register or info (on the product). The "info" selection takes you back to the news/home page. Your only other recourse is to go through a registration process which asks for a lot of information. The irony to me is that the great quote that I used about the value of information comes from a site that does not allow access to it's product without providing some of it.

In conclusion, what do I know about Transmedia and Glide? I know they have impressive products. How do I know that? The reviews are from media sources that are trustworthy and have tried them out with praiseworthy results. Several of them. Present, Write, Sync and with the last PR release a storage facility for your personal information.

They offer a free trial, with a registration process.

They just don't register as mid-sized to me. At least not from the web site. I suppose that might also depend on your definition of mid size.

It could be that they are flying under the radar and growing organically. But then they are sending out PR releases. They could be looking for funding to go big and the news articles help in that regard. Then they better give more thought to their web site.

It is an intriguing company with some interesting, though small in number, people associated with it. I am not meaning to be critical but felt this was an example of how two separate impressions are made by a single company. Are they a contender in the web space of hosted applications and services, are they David vs Goliath, are they mid sized and hidden from the world, or all of the above? I will be keeping an eye on them.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glide is definitely "flying" under the radar intentionally. They are most likely a small company or else their corporate site would be more informative. We know their products compete with Google, Microsoft etc. and I think they are trying to maintain somewhat of a low profile.

Andrew Fry said...

That would be my guess as well. I have worked with a few smaller companies who have done the same. Of additional interest to me was that I found an audio piece done by Business Week from August of 2005, so they have been flying low for a while.

I imagine financing will be a factor as to when they make some big noise. If they do not choose to grow organically, which is hard to do anyway while keeping a low profile, I expect the will either come out large with some big backers, or make the news in an acquisition story.