These opportunities are emerging on many levels. One opportunity is to extend or offer an alternative to physical events, conferences, conventions and assorted meetings. But even virtual events—such as webcasts and web conferences—may increasingly be seen as discrete elements in more expansive and persistent virtual environments. At the same time, digital media is becoming increasingly rich and diverse—enabling new types of interaction and engagement.
The vast potential associated with virtual events and environments is sparking the interest of all sorts of groups. It's capturing the attention of marketing leaders seeking new ways to brand their companies, generate leads, launch new products and support channel partners. Training teams are excited to have more personalized, time-sensitive and cost-effective ways to train and develop employees. HR teams see immediate payoffs in terms of recruiting, on-boarding and delivering information about benefits, compensation and corporate policies.
Whatever the application or opportunity for business impact, the challenge ahead will be to design, develop and introduce virtual events and environments that engage audiences in powerful new ways. If your organization is to capitalize on this emerging opportunity, you'll need guidance, best practices and digital platform support to execute on your vision and deliver the business results you seek.READ ENTIRE ARTICLE »
Web-based, virtual event technology has been around for more than a decade. Over that time, it has delivered several waves of benefits to the companies that have relied on it.
The first wave was about reducing travel and associated costs. In the post 9/11 recession, there was a great deal of interest in finding alternatives to existing meeting activities. There was a flourish of technology addressing everything from web meetings to video conferencing. And as expected, enterprises drove down costs and realized new operational efficiencies, but lost key sales and training opportunities that resulted from personal collaboration.
The second wave was about expanding the reach of the enterprise. As globalization gathered momentum, companies became increasingly decentralized and customers demanded new ways to communicate, and communications technology offered valuable new solutions. Now, it's possible to conduct high-quality meetings and events with participants located all over the world and at a variety of remote locations. Mobile workers are able to participate even while in transit.
The next wave—the third wave—offers something more. This wave will be about business impact. This is the time when line-of-business managers seek out new ways to enhance and augment existing business processes. There is particularly strong interest at present in areas such as lead generation, product launches, channel support, recruiting, on-boarding, training and development and communications (both internal and external). Virtual events and environments promise to set the stage for transformative new ways of doing business.
Several challenges stand in your way in terms of achieving the positive business impact that is possible with today's virtual event and environment solutions.
Any or all of these scenarios can be present as you consider how you might capitalize on the promise of virtual events and environments. And yet, there are clear opportunities to enhance and augment your existing business processes and realize more powerful business outcomes. But you will first need to rethink the status quo in terms of how you approach online events and consider the new experiences you can deliver.
Enterprises are now realizing an impressive impact from their investments in virtual event and environment solutions. Line of business managers have discovered they can supercharge business processes and reach new levels of performance.
The new approach revolves around turning discrete events into something more expansive and persistent. Rather than promoting events as isolated experiences (confined to a particular timeframe), the new opportunity is to embed them within immersive and media-rich environments that run on a continuous basis. As such, participants and attendees can experience them at the moment of need. And your enterprise can continue producing value on an indefinite basis.
One other powerful benefit of this new approach is the ability to track activity and behavior within a virtual environment. You'll discover which content is of most interest and least interest to the audiences you are trying to engage. You'll get a sense of what participants have learned and what remains to be learned. Such insights can help you refine your messages, your content and your overall environment.
What makes these engaging events possible is the existence of a user-friendly, virtual event platform. With an advanced platform, you'll have the self-service capabilities necessary to continually enrich your virtual environment with compelling content and invitations to interaction.
Such solutions make the business impact in various areas. Among them:
Clearly, much is changing in terms of how lines of business must engage their respective stakeholders. New approaches to virtual events and environments offer an opportunity to engage them in ways that are more vivid, more memorable and even more measurable.
As virtual events and environments have emerged as a compelling way of engaging stakeholders, a growing number of success stories have been recognized. Here are just a few:
When one of the world's largest IT management software companies decided to launch two new recovery management products, much was on the line. CA was used to running physical events when rolling out new products, but decided a virtual event could be more cost effective in attracting a large global audience. While the CA Recovery Management team had experience with webcasts, this was their first time to create a complete virtual environment and evaluate how well it would fit into their social media strategy.
With its investment in a virtual environment solution, CA could target two distinct audiences. They wanted to educate and train their partners, while at the same time generating new product interest and ultimately qualified leads from corporate users. They also wanted to reach a broad international marketplace. The solution the product team chose—InterCall Virtual Environments—enabled them to engage attendees from 81 countries in six different languages over two days.
"The events team provided us with an expert level of guidance and support to help us manage the short event timelines and content deadlines for our launch event," said Jacqueline Foster of CA's channel marketing team.
Ultimately, the event brought higher attendance than CA expected, reaching 2,000 partners and corporate users. "Our partners gave us rave reviews," Foster said. "They were impressed with the level of information and training available. Our customers were also excited about the content and venue CA chose to present the new products. We were able to measure attendee activities on every level: how they came in, what they were interested in, we could even see how some chats actually turned into prospective deals." And, with over 4,000 collateral downloads, 5,000 virtual booth visits and 900 chats and messages, the CA marketing team could easily quantify how well they fulfilled their objectives.
PTC, a leading provider of product lifecycle management software, has created something much more than virtual events. It is a persistent virtual environment for lead generation and partner support.
The company created 3,300 leads through its initial virtual event. However, the content and assets associated with that event remained available online and were further enriched with other sources of valuable content. As a result of its persistent and ongoing approach, the company generated more than 20,000 leads in its virtual environment. In fact, this approach is now the company standard in terms of how it launches new products. The approach has delivered more qualified and educated prospects to the sales team than traditional product launches or virtual events in isolation.
The virtual environment enables PTC to keep conversations going and establish itself as a trusted advisor online. It can use the platform to educate prospects and move them through the sales cycle. Sales reps can identify the needs of prospects based on their requests and behaviors within the environment and then provide guidance and support as necessary.
With 15,000 tax professionals and 148 countries and 731 cities, KPMG and its member firms help clients address international, federal, state and local tax issues. When the company sought a new and cost-effective way to attract talent, it launched a virtual job fair.
The unique 48-hour online event educated and aligned thousands of candidates with hundreds of openings with KPMG member firms around the world, with particular interest in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. After three months of planning and development, the virtual event was launched and attracted more than 10,000 attendees to KPMG recruiters and industry professionals.
In a virtual Main Hall, Exhibit Hall, Conference Hall and Resource Center, job seekers explored opportunities in specific countries and learned about the company's culture, values, corporate citizenship goals, training and development and work/life programs. They visited booths, watched live webcasts, chatted with KPMG professionals and applied directly for openings.
The results were impressive. With more than 40 participating countries, the KPMG World Jobs Fair received over 9,300 job applications in a virtual environment free from geographic limitations. At a cost of $3.36 per attendee, the company attracted more than 20,000 registrants (400% over the target). It was truly a global success.
The world of events is rapidly and irreversibly changing. Building on the experiences and proven results of a growing number of leading-edge companies, smart leaders are impacting their own businesses in the areas of marketing and sales, recruiting and staffing, training and development, human resources and corporate communications through virtual, persistent and media-rich events and environments.
The profit in this new world comes from the power of persistence. It's an opportunity to move beyond discrete and isolated events to an immersive, ongoing environment where interaction, personalization and trackable behavior are core factors.
The lead contributor on this white paper is Mike Nessler , Executive Vice President of Event Services at InterCall.