Following my earlier post about why PowerPoint will remain the delivery standard for the next few years I was asked about SlideRocket.
Well, I still need to evaluate SlideRocket, but from an early view of it I would say it looks interesting, suitable for some needs, but certainly not a replacement deliverable for most clients.
Why do I say that? The main reason is that SlideRocket is flexible, dynamic, and web-enabled. All of these sound like good things, and they are good things for some purposes, but not for delivered insights.
One of the most important things about research findings is that they need to be static. If I give you a presentation and a set of recommendations on Monday, you may write a summary for your boss on Tuesday, and forward them to her on Wednesday. You do not then want to find out that we change/improve the report on Thursday, making your summary completely nonsense. In the way that most companies work at the moment, the insight/findings presentation is a handing over of the baton, the agency has committed to these as the findings and the ownership of the thinking has moved to the client. The client may reduce, expand, or amend the findings as they see fit. However, if they do change the findings they are no longer the delivered findings of the vendor.
SlideRocket has a couple of other features that will be an advantage in some situations, but a problem in terms of delivering results to a client. The first is that SlideRocket is web-linked. Many, perhaps most, clients' IT and compliance departments do not want results that link to sources that are on the web, for security reasons. One interesting feature of SlideRocket is that you can track who sees your slides. I can see this as being really useful in some situations, but most clients are not going to want you to know who is seeing your materials.
Another potential weakness in SlideRocket is the metaphor it is using, namely one of co-creation and collaboration. In a growing number of research suppliers the process of creating deliverables is shifting away from the researcher towards design professionals, and most of the design professional seem to have very strong views about not letting researchers modify or edit the slides. By contrast, the metaphor SlideRocket extols is one where groups of people work together to produce the output.
The pricing of SlideRocket is a potential problem. The most expensive way to buy PowerPoint is as a standalone fully-featured package, which costs about $140. Most people will buy PowerPoint as part of a package, so its cost is much less. The standard SlideRocket package costs $24 per month, which means that over three years the cost would be about $864 - although I imagine the enterprise version would work out cheaper per user. This extra cost may be worthwhile for users who take full advantage of the web/networked facilities of SlideRocket, but not otherwise.
As I said, I have not tried SlideRocket yet, and I look forward to giving it a try. If the tour and video on its website are indicative of what to expect then I can see several situations where it might be useful. The first and most obvious thing is that because it is not PowerPoint it has the chance to stand out, to show that somebody is thinking and trying something new. The second use I can see is for marketing or promotional presentations, for example a presentation showing how a software package might be used. Because SlideRocket is dynamic the version of the presentation that people are looking at would always be the most up-to-date, and the tracking facility would help the creator check which slides were reviewed the most, and the questioning facility would allow the sales presentation to be more of a conversation as less of a lecture (to quote SlideRocket).
Another area where SlideRocket might be useful is in the process of creation of presentations, however, this will probably require a change in the current trend, i.e. towards collaboration and away from the trend of using specialists only.
It is probably also worth pointing out that all of the above relates to a presentation that has been given to the client as a deliverable. The rules for a presentation used as part of a face-to-face presentation are even more in PowerPoint's favour. Good debriefs and presentations are rehearsed, and you can't reliably rehearse a web-enabled, dynamic presentation - I am sure that for a presentation SlideRocket can be frozen, but then it is much more like PowerPoint anyway.