My wife hates emptying the dishwasher, so, occasionally, when I'm trying to be nice, I'll empty it. This morning, as I was offering this huge act of service to the family, I looked down at the little filter at the bottom of the dishwasher and I thought of some of the decisions you are forced to make when choosing a Webcasting or lecture capture platform.

I remember being at the store, armed with information from Consumer Reports, and essentially ready to buy. Of course, I wanted to buy the best we could afford. The one machine that was rated as a "Best Buy" by the magazine was indeed what I wanted, but I was thrown by one feature - the filter on the bottom.

You see, the other dishwashers had different filters - but this one didn't have the same kind.

Why was I so hung up about this particular type of filter? To be honest, there was no good reason - other than "there must be a reason those other manufacturers did what they did!?"

Sometimes customers ask us if we have a particular feature and they are surprised by how we respond. With a question. The question is, "Why is that feature important to you?" "How would that feature offer you value in a webcasting solution?"

Often times, when we fully understand what is going on with the customer and the real problem they are trying to solve, we learn that it wasn't as much that they needed that (sometimes obscure) feature, but that another tool had it and so they thought "it must be important."

We'll challenge that assumption. And so should you.

At Sonic Foundry, we ask a ton of "why?" questions before we ever consider adding a feature to our product. Time is limited and our customers expect us to deliver the best possible value in the next release. We have tough decisions to make, but we need to make them wisely.

A year later, my Bosch dishwasher is providing me extremely clean dishes, tremendously quiet operation, and that filter that's a bit different from the rest? It hasn't caused me one single concern - primarily because its advanced design eliminated the need for the other type of filter.

When you are going down the list of requirements for your webcasting or lecture capture system, I encourage you to carefully consider the question, "Why?"

If you forget to ask, don't worry, we'll help.