How to take your corporate event to the virtual world – Part 2

In part one of our series on how technology is integral in creating a successful virtual-hybrid event, I explored the best practices every company should consider in the pre-, during and post-event planning stages of a corporate event.  Read that blog here.

In part two, I provide tips on how to help ensure that your virtual-hybrid event is a success – and more importantly, how to measure that success for future planning.

1. Take small steps, then scale (cost vs. business value)

Transitioning from a complete in-person experience to a hybrid-virtual event doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive. To choose the best approach for your company, whether that is connecting remote employees via WebEx or gathering executives for an immersive TelePresence session, determine the budget of your current approach (including travel and accommodations for out-of-town employees) and set realistic financial goals that still enable you to deliver engaging content.

Next, assess your company’s existing network, telephony and video investments and locate areas for integration and interoperability. Many businesses already have video conferencing units, and I recommend that my customers use these as the building blocks in their virtual-hybrid event planning.

Finally, pick an area of your business where bringing together employees virtually makes the most sense. This will deliver the highest business value while trying the technology on a small scale, making it easier to scale to include other areas of your business in the future.

Here’s a tip: Think outside what’s traditionally been capable with virtualized desktops and video.  Cisco’s Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) solutions along with Cisco Jabber deliver HD video, telephony, IM and Presence capabilities to virtualized Windows desktops – meaning employees that traditionally run VMs, such as contact centre agents, can now be invited to virtual-hybrid events. This extends the reach of your message and increases the ROI of your investment.

2. Get experienced help

Planning for corporate events with thousands of live and virtual attendees takes time, coordination and a deep technical understanding.

Collaborative technologies can be the key to breaking down silos between groups that have disparate technology strategies, but only when utilized properly. Think about the tools at your disposal: local and wide-area networking (and optimization), audio and video conferencing, mobility, live and on-demand video capturing, video archival and content sharing, wrapped together with social networking where attendees continue to communicate and collaborate. If you aren’t certain how to make your technology work for you, it’s time to bring in a vendor or partner that can help.

3. Deliver compelling content that captures hearts and minds

Content is king. A presentation or speech that connects with employees at an emotional level will leave them wanting more, believing in the shared vision of your company and excited to be part of it.

Avoid cookie-cutter content and focus on connecting with your audience. Share stories and experiences, and take advantage of the technology connecting your employees to answer their questions and get their feedback.

For presentation tips and examples, try TED.com, PresentationZen.com and speakingaboutpresenting.com.

4. Don’t forget the metrics

Whether you decide that TelePresence, Show and Share, WebEx or Cisco Quad is the right solution for your virtual-hybrid event, you and your technology are going to be together for a long time.

That’s why it is important to demonstrate the value of your chosen solution. What was the reduction in travel? In cost per attendee? How many work hours lost to travel were saved? Cisco received phenomenal results when we transitioned our Global Sales Experience event to a virtual model in 2009.  This White Paper on the results should give you lots of ideas for tracking your event’s metrics.

Bringing it all together

Companies need senior leadership to provide vision and strategic direction to succeed in this competitive marketplace. An effective communications strategy for your corporate virtual-hybrid event, one that delivers your vision to employees regardless of location and backed by proven technology, can increase productivity and morale while providing significant cost savings over traditional in-person events.

How are you sharing your shared vision and direction in your company? Let me know in the comments below.

About Satoshi Takano

Satoshi Takano is Director of Collaboration Solutions for Cisco Canada. He is part of a nationwide team of sales specialists and systems engineers, providing thought leadership and guidance to customers and partners on collaborative technologies that can help transform organizations. A frequent speaker for various events and video blogger, Satoshi places great emphasis on the importance of the intersection of technology, people and business process to transform how people work, live, play and learn. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics from York University in Toronto, Ontario.
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