On the cutting edge of on-demand video applications for a global clientele, Espial's 100 member team is constantly expanding their product capabilities, deploying system enhancements for customers, and creating dynamic proposals to win big new accounts. SmartDraw is the perfect fit for the non-stop nature of this growing entertainment technology provider—fast, intuitive, and economical.
Espial, a publicly traded company based in Ottawa, Canada, is a leader in intelligent VOD and middleware systems for IPTV (Internet Protocol television), which delivers live and on-demand TV programming. The 11-year-old company's technologies control the overall viewing experience by managing the applications, TV and video, along with subscriber interactions between the set-top box and the network. Espial applications include electronic program guides, video on demand, interactive content portals, web browsing, pay-per-view and more.
"Our services, both on the end-user side and on the back-end, are sold to telco, cable and hospitality operators in North America, Europe and Asia and ultimately support 2.5 million IPTV end-users every day," explains Kirk Edwardson, Director of Marketing at Espial.
The complexity of the information, applications, and networking involved is immense.
"Our products are very dynamic and there are always new enhancements to add to existing services," Kirk says. "We use SmartDraw on a daily basis to depict the architecture of our applications and how they interact with other components. It's fast and easy to move engineering icons around in SmartDraw, which is crucial for everyone on our teams to be able to see at-a-glance how everything is connected and how it will work together." (Figure 1)
Espial's engineering diagrams are often exported to PowerPoint, using SmartDraw's one-click automatic export function. The diagrams, which are usually customized because client needs are so vast, are then used in sales presentations to walk the prospect through the technological processes that take place. This allows them to easily see how their technology and Espial's can seamlessly work together.
"We probably create a few dozen engineering maps and PowerPoint charts using SmartDraw each time we present a complex proposal, depending on how the conversations go with the prospect," Kirk explains. "SmartDraw charts are our frontline sales tools and are used many times each day in PowerPoint presentations, datasheets and in interactive customer planning sessions."
These intricate, often 12-16 point layered process diagrams are then altered to show how Espial's technology can expand and easily scale-up to meet the client's needs as their business grows.
"We've used SmartDraw architecture diagrams at trade shows and other events as well," says Kirk. "We brought a few poster-sized SmartDraw diagrams to a show in Amsterdam recently and it worked out very well. The architectural maps looked professionally done, and I was able to stand with the prospect and walk them through the various program components. SmartDraw really helps our clients see the type of success they can attain with our products and services." (Figure 2)
"For our frontline marketing operations and for our deeper technical diagrams, SmartDraw is it," says Kirk. "When I first started using it, I found it easy and intuitive. There was almost no learning curve. That fact alone allows it to pay for itself quickly.
'So many of us at Espial use SmartDraw on a daily basis: the product manager teams, the CTO team, the architects, sales engineers and the research and development teams as well. For Espial, SmartDraw greatly enhances our opportunity costs—we could never achieve the high quality, professional and accurate diagrams as quickly as we need them—without SmartDraw. I am convinced we have closed deals faster and helped to achieve our market leadership because of products like SmartDraw."
Espial is looking to capitalize on its SmartDraw use by using the software's internal color palettes to help Espial define its own "style" in its sales presentations. "We're using SmartDraw to help us get a consistent look to what we do as well. The more consistent we look the more professional we look to all of our audiences."