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IDC Survey Finds the Shift to Virtual Events a Modest Success with Room for Improvement

Daniel Nenni

Admin
Staff member
IDC Survey Finds the Shift to Virtual Events a Modest Success with Room for Improvement
July 07, 2020 08:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A recent International Data Corporation (IDC) survey confirms that conferencing applications were already in wide use at home and at work prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. When the pandemic created the need to move in-person events to virtual meetings and conferences, these "connected consumers" brought along some expectations. To a large degree, they were looking to replicate their "in person" experiences in the virtual world.

A recent IDC report examines what worked and what didn't work when in-person events transitioned to virtual meetings and conferences due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the most common activities when attending an event in person are engaging in conversation, socializing, and networking with other attendees as well as exchanging business cards. Attendees at virtual events want to pursue similar activities by posting to social media, interacting with other social media handles, and exchanging LinkedIn addresses. In fact, IDC found that nearly half of all attendees at virtual events engage using social media, compared to just 16% at in-person events. But few event organizers actively facilitated this kind of attendee interaction with less than half of the events offering live chat to ask questions of speakers or for audience interaction.

"Live events are an important source of information for attendees and this is a function that organizers can handle very well with live streaming and content downloads," said Wayne Kurtzman, research director, Social and Collaboration at IDC. "But an equally important reason to attend these events in person is the opportunity to meet and network with other people. Organizers still have some work to do here to deliver an experience that will be equally beneficial to a remote and distanced audience."

The sudden shift to virtual events in the first half of 2020 produced mixed results in terms of attendance. While just over half of the events lost audience in the transition, 46% gained attendees as a result. Removing travel requirements and audience familiarity with video presentations worked together to keep event attendance largely intact.

Overall, about half of the attendees at these virtual events were neutral on their experience, more or less getting what they expected. But nearly a third indicated that they had a better experience than expected with some stating they had a better experience than an in-person event.

From an event organizer's perspective, the virtual events were largely seen as a success. The metric used by most organizers to measure success was attendance, but downloads, revenue, and audience engagement also scored well. In general, tech companies were more successful with audience engagement while companies with branded communities saw higher session attendance and greater social media hashtag usage. Overall, nearly half found the virtual event to be less expensive to produce than an in-person event.

When asked what could have been done better, event organizers and attendees both identified engagements during the event as one of the top areas for improvement along with audio quality (organizers) and the need for closed captions (attendees) on the technical side. Both groups also identified networking events as something warranting further attention.

"Looking ahead, virtual events are people’s new 'real world' events," added Kurtzman. "To succeed, make sure attendees have easy ways to engage with each other, the organizers, and speakers. Use platforms that were meant for the purpose and prepare the platform, your social team, and support teams. Finally, make the impression a good one with video, lighting, and audio – and usable, authentic content."

To learn more about what worked well and what did not, please see Wayne Kurtzman's new blog at https://bit.ly/38u2Vdh.
The IDC report, Virtual Meetings and Conference Survey (IDC #US46604420), examines the preferences, experiences, attitudes, and behaviors of organizers and attendees of in-person events that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, became virtual events. The research identifies expectations of virtual meeting attendees and organizers., as well as best practices by organizers, and shares recommendations derived from the research.

About IDC
International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,100 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC's analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world's leading tech media, data and marketing services company. To learn more about IDC, please visit www.idc.com. Follow IDC on Twitter at @IDC and LinkedIn. Subscribe to the IDC Blog for industry news and insights: http://bit.ly/IDCBlog_Subscribe.
 

Daniel Nenni

Admin
Staff member
Personally I feel the virtual events have been pretty good thus far. It's great to have prerecorded versions of the keynotes for review at our leisure. It also offers a better quality since the speakers control the recording. Many less "umms" and "ahhs". I do miss the personal aspect of live events but the time away from family and the expense/peril of travel is not worth it, my opinion.

Virtual events will be mandated for the rest of this year and most probably next year so they will improve. Remember, the virtual events thus far have been expedited with minimum planning. They will get better, absolutely.

I also wonder if companies will continue to finance live events (exhibition and attendance). Budgets will be Covid tight and the fact of the matter is live events consume a large amount of time and money in comparison to virtual events.

Admittedly I have spent the last 30+ years traveling the semiconductor world which was an important experience in itself. So I speak from a different place than most.
 
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