Archive for August, 2009

Fueling the fire – News about H1N1, Telepresence, and 3D Virtual Environements

First thing this morning we heard about the Government’s warning that 50% of the population may contract H1N1 Flu this flu season. Some of their recommendations are that schools should utilize web based learning platforms to reach students who are out with the flu. Can similar recommendations for the meetings industry be far behind?

The Chicago Tribune reports that advanced Videoconferencing systems (Telepresence) are having a material impact on the business travel market as companies like AMD, HP, Cisco and Nokia are using these systems to replace meetings and routine travel.

The  WSJ reports that companies such as IBM and Northrop Grumman are utilizing 3d Virtual Environments as rich training and simulation platforms.

Three separate sources regarding three different stories that converge to illuminate one reality. The economy is driving massive adoption of virtual event platforms along the entire spectrum of alternative virtual event options.

Whether traditional travel for meetings and training will return when the market rebounds remains to be seen. One thing for sure is that the meetings and events market is undergoing unprecedented change. Those event organizers that embrace the potential of these new platforms to complement the physical event experience will surely prevail over those that wait for the return of the good ole days.

Advertisements

Drinking from a fire hose…..making decisions on social networking and virtual events

Over the past 30 days it seems that more and more senior business media executives are absolutely overwhelmed by the flood of information, media attention, and hype around social media and virtual events. They are being barraged by requests to fund new projects to create communities or launch virtual events when very often the business model or commercial prospects from such activities are unclear. They’re being told they just “have to do it”.  Sound a little like 1999?

At the same time they are being approached by a stream of technology suppliers who all promise that their solution is “the” answer. At the ASAE annual meeting this week, there were a dozen exhibitors marketing social networking platforms alone and another dozen marketing virtual event solutions.

At the recent SISO meeting in NYC, an excellent half day intensive workshop on social networking focused on a vision of communities enabled by social networking technology as the answer to show organizers dream of influence and engagement of their markets 52 weeks a year.

What’s making things even more challenging for these executives is a general unfamiliarity with the torrent of tools and technology that are at the eye of the storm. All this while their core event revenues are off 20-30% and their print businesses are off 40-50%.

To help bring some order to the madness, here are three steps I think can help:
1. Commit 30 minutes a day to becoming familiar with the new media tools that are impacting b2b media. Attend a webinar or a virtual tradeshow, use twitter, set up a linkedin profile, read a book on social networking. If you’re really brave, find a bright twenty something employee in your organization who can mentor you (that’s right mentor you) on social media.
2. Assess the “technographics” of your respective markets and prioritize them based on those you think are most likely to be served effectively with these new tools.
3. Identify unmet audience needs in selected segments of these markets and start small with a couple of modest projects.

A disciplined and methodical approach to making several small bets will prevent paralysis and pay big dividends long term.