If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance you’re doing it from your home thanks to COVID-19.
The novel coronavirus has shut down businesses across the country, forcing everyone into makeshift workspaces in their homes and whacking the economy.
Business is now exclusively done online via collaboration tools, videoconferencing and other remote communication technologies. Face-to-face meetings and handshakes are a long way off from being the norm again.
As such, the virus has also forced many tech events to cancel or postpone, but some have been quick to schedule virtual content, like Enterprise Connect.
How Enterprise Connect became virtual
The show featuring communication and collaboration technology for the enterprise was scheduled to take place in Orlando at the end of March, but it was postponed until Aug. 3-6 and moved across the country to San Francisco.
“As soon as we did that, we knew it was important to do something at the end of the month to stay connected with our audience,” said Eric Krapf, general manager and program chair for the event.
Krapf works for Informa Tech, a global events company. Within the company is a group that managers webinars and virtual events across the company.
“We reached out to them right away,” Krapf said.
At first, the group had lofty ambitions for a virtual event, but scaled back those ambitions.
“We went from wanting … a richer environment and experience to, “Let’s just get a bunch of webinars out there,” Krapf says.
Krapf and the team reached out to the scheduled speakers and it took virtually no convincing for the remote communication experts to agree to providing content for a virtual event.
The biggest challenge was convincing the speakers to forego using their company’s platform and send their content to event organizers, who then use webinar platform ON24 to distribute the content.
“It’s always got to be on their platform,” Krapf says.
A trend toward virtual events
Live streaming certainly isn’t new, so Enterprise Connect’s strategy of holding this year’s keynotes online wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking, but a good way to keep in touch with its audience rather than offer no content at all.
According to Krapf, about 2,600 unique registrants tuned in, with sessions averaging between 800 and 1,200 apiece.
The event is one of several other tech industry events that offered or plan to offer online content in lieu of the physical event this year, including Adobe Summit, Apple WWDC, Cisco Live, Google Cloud Next, Nvidia GTC, Red Hat Summit, three Microsoft events and others.
Krapf predicts that live events that have always been a traditional in-person occasion will continue to be the desired environment for new business partnerships and professional relationships to blossom.
People will always find value in spending three days with their peers, being able to talk to speakers after their keynotes, having random conversations and engaging in a way that couldn’t be done online.
However, like remote work trends during this pandemic, it’s clear that technology can play a role in connecting us and bringing once canceled events back to life.
According to Krapf, online content was once though to cannibalize live events. Now, he says it can play as big a role as the live event itself.
“I think that’s the direction we’ll probably look to,” Krapf says.