One of the best ways to showcase new tech designs and products is through an industry event. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic and major event shutdowns across the globe, industries have been forced to get creative.
Ever since virtual events first became possible, the tech industry has been all over this space. And now, more than ever, tech has risen to the challenge and hosted some of the biggest most important tech virtual events this year.
From an industry that knows tech, it only makes sense that they can excel in the virtual space. In this article, we highlight the ten best tech industry virtual events and draw insight from their success.
Here are the Top X virtual events that we have seen from the tech industry in 2020.
1. Qualtrics WorkDifferent Digital Event Series
Dubbed by Qualtrics to be “the greatest gathering of experience management professionals on the planet”, the Qualtrics X4 Summit was almost canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, with event technology, Qualtrics was able to launch their campaign WorkDifferent on August 12th, which featured a significant pivot from physical events to the online communities.
Qualtrics met the challenge by bringing in industry powerhouses, including sports stars and thought leaders. From Tony Hawk to Brené Brown, and included names like former chief marketing officer for Beats by Dre, Omar Johnson, the event covered topics like “Keeping Your Wheels Spinning While the World is at a Standstill” and “How Brands Can Find Their Way Without Losing Their Way.”
Key Takeaway: While Qualtrics had been hosting weekly virtual event strategy webinars, this shift to a digital event series showed the industry how it should be done. They kept their brand followers engaged with a unique and powerful digital event.
2. Cisco Live Two-Day Virtual Event
Cisco’s world-renown and annual customer and partner conference, Cisco Live, took place in San Diego in 2019. This conference ranges from focused technical education to thought leadership and 1:1 meetings.
Unfortunately, this year things were different. To accommodate this shift, Cisco used its powerful event technology to bring together Cisco Live as a two-day virtual event. This virtual event hosted over 500 sessions on topics suited for IT leaders and professionals. Live topics, which are now available in an on-demand library, included networking transformation, SD-WAN, and mobile edge computing.
Key Takeaways: The event divided topics into four navigable channels: innovation, IT leadership, possibilities, and IT heroes. The event was hugely successful, garnering over three million live views and a rating of 4.5 out of 5. It is estimated to be the biggest virtual event in 2020.
3. Gainsight’s Pulse Everywhere
Traditionally a 5,000 person physical conference, Gainsight made a quick shift to the virtual event platform in May! With 25 sessions, Gainsight’s Pulse Everywhere had topics presented by leaders from top companies with a focus on the “beginners mindset” to reimagine how their event experience would work, from online registration to networking.
This hybrid event had 22,000 attendees tune in over 45 days. Event types vary across five tracks. Industry leaders from Splunk to LinkedIn, VMWare, and Adobe presented. The event was technically a hybrid event; they used some pre-recorded events with live Q&As to keep attendee engagement high.
Key Takeaways: Gainsight was quick to pivot to the virtual space and in doing so saw a 4.5x increase in attendance. Their live online event was hidden behind a paywall, but now all video sessions and downloadable slides are available for free after filling out registration for their Pulse Everywhere content, creating long-term engagement.
4. Microsoft Build
Microsoft’s annual developer conference is usually held in-person and used as a way of bringing developers in the community together and getting them excited for new product updates.
Microsoft turned their Microsoft Build event into a two-day virtual event, which succeeded in accumulating 200,000 registered attendees. With almost 600 sessions, Microsoft Build focused on the ways that inclusivity in the industry can drive innovation. They even held “Community Connections”, or guided meditations and yoga sessions to promote stress reduction.
Key Takeaways: Microsoft knew it had to keep its audience engaged so holding a virtual conference was the way to go. The virtual conference was on the same dates as the previously planned in-person conference to keep the event top of mind and to ensure registrants could still attend.
5. 2020 HMG Live!
HMG Strategy’s Live New York CIO Summit of America was held on August 20 as a two-hour event geared toward reshaping the future through past models. IT leaders from major companies like Zoom, the NFL, Amazon Web Services, Verizon, Ogilvy, and Deloitte all shared insight on what future work might look like and how collaboration can be fostered in a hybrid environment.
HMG Strategy’s live summits are geared towards chief information officers (CIOs), chief information security officers (CISOs), and senior IT executives. So even though in-person events were canceled, HMG Strategy wanted to keep its community engaged.
Key Takeaway: Through strong virtual event production and virtual experiences, HMG Live still brought together big brand leaders, allowing more to engage with this thriving community.
6. LiveWorx Digital Transformation Live Event
Digital transformation conference LiveWorx lived up to its name. Usually an in-person conference in Boston, LiveWorx transitioned from a four-day physical event to a one-day virtual event dubbed the LiveWorx Digital Transformation Live Event.
There were nine live-stream keynote speakers and over 100 on-demand sessions. Topics ranged from augmented reality to robotics and artificial intelligence. Influencers and industry leaders presented and hosted Q&As, which allowed remote audiences to engage with these industry professionals in ways they have never seen before.
Key Takeaways: LiveWorx allowed free attendance to boost engagement, and it worked. Attendance went from 6,000 normally at the physical event to 7,000 for the online version.
7. HPE Discover Virtual Experience
Hewlett Packard Enterprise hosted its industry-leader showcase, the HPE Discover Virtual Experience, designed as its first-ever global virtual event. The event garnered over 38,000 attendees, over 1 million views in both the live and on-demand sessions, with attendees from over 175 countries.
With over 200 sessions in both live and on-demand format and over 100 industry leaders and expert speakers presented, HPE provided attendees with an unforgettable experience. Top speakers included the award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien and 6x Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, including a plethora of industry experts, sports leaders (such as Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr), HPE brought a powerhouse lineup.
Key Takeaways: HPE recognized the potential of on-demand, recorded content so they used the power of both event styles to draw audiences. Over nine hours of content is available on its on-demand site so continue to draw audiences long after the event has passed.
8. Apple WWDC
Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is usually an annual can’t-miss event. So to continue this trend, Apple developed a cross-platform audience experience by using the company’s Developer app to share information leading up to the event. Attendees were encouraged to attend on their iOS devices over a four-day virtual event period.
Key Takeaways: While geared towards developers, Apple thought to move away from traditional virtual event venues and bring the audience a virtual event on their own mobile devices, finding more unique ways to provide digital event experiences.
9. Aruba Networks’ Atmosphere 2020
Hosted by Hewlett Packard company Aruba Networks, Atmosphere 2020 was supposed to be in Las Vegas in March. To accommodate the shutdowns, leading wireless networking conference Atmosphere 2020 was instead turned into a virtual event that spanned several months. The first virtual event took place on June 9 and events continued into September.
Key Takeaways: Aruba Networks’ idea to spread out the event gave attendees a rest from Zoom fatigue, allowing attendees to still reap the benefits of online talks about developing an edge-to-cloud to cloud strategy, edge computing, 5G, and more.
Major cybersecurity conference CircleCityCon embraced the digital shift by hosting its usual in-person conference virtually from June 12 to 14.
This conference featured training sessions for cybersecurity professionals, but also splashes of gamification which used the virtual space well, such as virtual arcades, game shows, interactive villages, and even a job fair. CircleCityCon was geared toward audience engagement while still hosting a virtual conference to keep the event top of mind.
Key Takeaways: CircleCityCon also embraced the fun mindset with session titles like “Harry Potter and the InfoSec Apprentice” and “Every Breath You Take: A CTI Review of Stalkerware.” Keeping it light and airy engaged audiences in new and exciting ways, and earned it a spot as one of the top virtual events from the tech industry in 2020.
How to Succeed With a Virtual Event
Hosting a virtual event is no easy feat, especially when so many brands in your industry are competing with not only your competitors but every industry to garner engagement in the online environment. However, we have pulled some key takeaways from the successes of tech events on this list to better help you succeed:
Find long-term engagement: Many of the events embraced the Simulated Live and pre-recorded content trend. Record all the content of your live event so that you can host it on your website long after the event has ended.
Draw out the length: Unless you only have a few sessions, breaking down long conferences into smaller chunks can keep remote attendees engaged far more than a jam-packed virtual event can. Consider a multi-weekend, multi-month conference to keep the excitement rolling.
Consider hybrid: Especially in the tech industry, we see hybrid events make more sense. A hybrid event host might consider showing more of the space around the presenter so it looks like they are in a conference hall or workspace where others might be nearby. Maintain social distances but encourage more in terms of the presenters’ environment to showcase authenticity.
Connect with your community: Whether it is through industry forums of social media, your community needs to stay connected at this time. There is no need to bombard your community, but give them subtle reminders that you (and your event) are there for them.