Bob Befus is passionate about helping scientists and clinicians present the results of their research. In the 1980s, he co-founded Spectrum Multi Media Inc. as a full-service presentation graphics company servicing medical and pharmaceutical organizations. In later years, the company name was changed to Research Presentation Strategies (RPS) to reflect its focus on helping customers with high profile regulatory and scientific presentations. RPS developed and manages SlideSource.com, a presentation management tool that lets you organize and share your presentations from one secure online library anytime, anywhere.
In this conversation, Bob discusses ways of coping with the challenges of managing many slides.
Geetesh: Bob, your research shows that 76% of PowerPoint users have trouble locating the slides they need. Moreover, even if they find what they need, 80% of users have a tough time combining slides from different presentations. Can you share why people face these difficulties for such seemingly simple tasks?
Bob: In a recent RPS survey of 1,300 individuals, 47% of respondents indicated that they used PowerPoint to some extent in their work. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are more than 56 million white collar workers in the United States which means that there may be as many as 26 million workers in the US who use PowerPoint to some extent in their jobs.
That is a lot of people making an awful lot of slides. And when building presentations, we found that 60% start from an existing set of slides to create a new presentation, so managing versions of presentations is an important part of their work. This is especially true for the 30% of users who work in PowerPoint frequently.
The problem is that 76% of all the PowerPoint users who responded said they have trouble locating the slides and presentations they need when they need them. This is very consistent with research in the area of knowledge management where it's been well documented that employees spend a great deal of their time searching for… not finding… and recreating information1.
57% of PowerPoint users said they had experienced version control problems, and in general, the more frequent the user, the more frequent the problems.
While managing files and versions seems like it should be a simple task, when it comes to PowerPoint, it turns out it really isn't simple at all. That's because PowerPoint presentations are mutable mobiles, meaning that, unlike a PDF file for example, PowerPoint files change as they travel through an organization.
This creates some major challenges for those who have the responsibility for managing presentation content.
Geetesh: Your research also shows that 90% of users have never used a slide or presentation library. Would using such a library help? Do you have any recommendations?
Bob: Slide libraries have been around for a while, but we were surprised to find that the vast majority of PowerPoint users have never tried one. I think there are a number of reasons for this. First there is just a general lack of awareness about slide library tools and their benefits. For those who have looked into them, many are complex and restrictive. They may not have been designed for how people and organizations actually use PowerPoint. While in theory it might seem effective to provide controls on how people create slides, what templates, fonts and colors they can use, in real life I don't think this is practical or even desirable. Secondly, most require significant modification of user workflows and processes. I believe a tool should be able to easily conform to your process, not the other way around.
When we developed SlideSource.com, we knew how people actually used PowerPoint in organizations because we had been helping them do exactly that for many years. So we tried to design a simple and intuitive online library that took into account PowerPoint’s strengths and weaknesses as well as how people actually used it day to day. SlideSource.com enables slide library managers to easily organize the slides they want to make available, but at the same time, make it easy for users to download and edit their presentations as needed.
1 Coveo Research: The Knowledge Report, 2015
April 2003 | May 2003 | December 2003 | January 2004 | February 2004 | March 2004 | April 2004 | May 2004 | June 2004 | July 2004 | August 2004 | September 2004 | October 2004 | November 2004 | December 2004 | January 2005 | February 2005 | March 2005 | April 2005 | May 2005 | June 2005 | July 2005 | August 2005 | September 2005 | October 2005 | November 2005 | December 2005 | January 2006 | February 2006 | March 2006 | April 2006 | May 2006 | June 2006 | July 2006 | August 2006 | September 2006 | October 2006 | November 2006 | December 2006 | January 2007 | February 2007 | March 2007 | April 2007 | May 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August 2007 | September 2007 | October 2007 | November 2007 | December 2007 | January 2008 | February 2008 | March 2008 | April 2008 | May 2008 | June 2008 | July 2008 | August 2008 | September 2008 | October 2008 | November 2008 | December 2008 | January 2009 | February 2009 | March 2009 | April 2009 | May 2009 | June 2009 | July 2009 | August 2009 | September 2009 | October 2009 | November 2009 | December 2009 | January 2010 | February 2010 | March 2010 | April 2010 | May 2010 | June 2010 | July 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November 2010 | December 2010 | January 2011 | February 2011 | March 2011 | April 2011 | May 2011 | June 2011 | July 2011 | August 2011 | September 2011 | October 2011 | November 2011 | December 2011 | January 2012 | February 2012 | March 2012 | April 2012 | May 2012 | June 2012 | July 2012 | August 2012 | September 2012 | October 2012 | November 2012 | December 2012 | January 2013 | February 2013 | March 2013 | April 2013 | May 2013 | June 2013 | July 2013 | August 2013 | September 2013 | October 2013 | November 2013 | December 2013 | January 2014 | February 2014 | March 2014 | April 2014 | May 2014 | June 2014 | July 2014 | August 2014 | September 2014 | October 2014 | November 2014 | December 2014 | January 2015 | February 2015 | March 2015 | April 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | July 2015 | August 2015 | September 2015 | October 2015 | November 2015 | December 2015 | January 2016 | February 2016 | March 2016 | April 2016 | May 2016 | June 2016 | July 2016 | August 2016 | September 2016 | October 2016 | November 2016 | December 2016 | January 2017 |
Microsoft and the Office logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.