WebEx Review
WebEx Reporting Insanity


I just finished one month of repeated emails, phone calls, and online test sessions with Cisco WebEx tech support. We found the answer to the problem I originally reported to them and in an attempt to save others the same frustration I thought I would write it up in this post.

The symptom I observed was that the In-Event Activity Report for one of my WebEx Event Center webinars contained columns showing results for some of the polls we had run, but others were missing.

It turns out that this was because WEBEX ONLY CAPTURES IN-EVENT ACTIVITY INFORMATION WHILE THE RECORDER IS RUNNING.

My first two polls were just audience demographics, asked while giving the live audience their instructions about using the conferencing software. I don't record that, because viewers of the archive have no reason to care and they can't participate. I start the recording after giving instructions and before introducing the content. Turns out this is a very bad idea if you want a report.

If you look hard enough, you can find a WebEx Knowledge Base Article (WBX45170) that tells you "In-Event Activity Reports are only available for events recorded on the server (Network-Based Recording)." But it never mentions the fact that information is only captured while the recorder is on.

I can't think of any way to describe this other than product design insanity. Reports are vital records of what happened during a web session. They should be… must be… divorced from any decisions I make about whether I want to make an archive recording, what portions of the event I elect to record, and whether I store the recording on disk or the network server.

The In-Event Activity Report is very important in WebEx, because it offers the only combined, integrated record of attendee interactions. The only other way to see their chat messages, Q&A questions, or poll responses is to manually save multiple distinct files before you close your meeting session. And all three of those interaction reports are in significantly different formats. Hell, they don't even go to the same default directory on your hard drive.

I expect more from the market share leader in the world of web events. WebEx has a massive customer base, a long product history, and plenty of real world usage experience. We should not have to put up with substandard reporting of our critical event data.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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