How Mobile Video Changes Things

July 15, 2011

Photo credit: Tommyvos on flickr.

Note: This is a collaborative blog post authored by Jim Reilly (@oldantler) and me.

Introduction

In the first generation of web-based video calling, families could stay in touch (e.g. Skype), while companies could conduct business meetings over several locations (e.g. Polycom, Cisco Telepresence, etc.). Mobile-based video calling options dramatically changes things.

iPhone users can now call one another via the pre-installed Facetime app, as long as both parties are connected to a WiFi network. With Skype app (iPhone, Android and Symbian), Skype users can video-call one another from their smarthphone over WiFi or 3G. Let’s consider a few use cases to demonstrate how mobile video changes things.

Calling Home While on Business Travel

Let’s say Mom has gone on a business trip for a few weeks. In a typical scenario, Mom calls home each night to check in with Dad and the kids. If Mom has her PC with Skype installed, perhaps they do a video call every other night. Now, imagine Mom has an iPhone. She connects to her hotel’s WiFi network and dials up her daughter at home using Facetime. The daughter has an iPod Touch and is connected to the WiFi network at home.

Now, Mom and daughter can see and hear one another. And with mobile, they can now see their surrounding environments as they walk about. When Mom asks, “Are you taking good care of my garden?”, the daughter can walk to the garden and give Mom a close-up view of the vegetables. When the daughter asks, “How is your hotel room?”, Mom can give her a quick tour.

Buying a New House Before Relocating

When a family relocates to another part of the country, the husband or wife typically heads out before the rest of the family, to secure housing and get things set up. This can make home-buying a challenge, as both spouses are not able to see the house before making a decision. Mobile video changes that.

Now, the husband can land in the new city, make appointments with a realtor, then video-call his wife to view the houses together. He can take his wife through the family room, kids’ bedrooms and yard.  While the listing page (on the web) for the house may provide panoramic, 360 degree views of the home, the mobile video-call transforms the 360 degree view from an “on-demand viewing” to a live guided tour.

Repairing a Server in The Data Center

A server has gone down and the only engineer available is the most junior member of your IT team. Not to fear – have him initiate a video call once he arrives. From there, senior members of your team can provide direction on how to fix the server.

The junior engineer powers down the server, then pulls out the blade server in slot 2. He points his smartphone at the server as the senior members explain how to carefully extract the card. Note that in this scenario, mounting the phone on a tripod would be helpful, to free up the junior engineer’s hands!

Emergency Services

A member of the public comes across an unconscious person in the street, dials the emergency services and is not only sent animated instructions to their phone, but the trained medical staff taking the call gives advice based on video observation of the subject, not just vague description. Vital minutes are saved to administer the correct first aid and potentially saves the person’s life.

Turning Trade Shows into Hybrid Events

Video calling can connect trade show and conference attendees with remote users who were not able to attend in person. The on-site attendee can take the remote attendee on a walk down the exhibit floor.

Exhibitors can take prospects through a tour of their booth, showing them their latest product offerings (in the same way you’d do in person). If the remote attendee switched to a desktop (e.g. with Skype), s/he could even conduct interviews with on-site attendees and post the interviews on a web site or blog. Mobile video allows the physical event experience to be shared with anyone.

Enhancing the Experience with Augmented Reality

With the development of augmented reality (AR), the examples above become even more useful and compelling: in home buying the video tour is augmented with room dimensions, distances from local amenities and details of local crime rates; in repairing the server the nearest spares supplier can be identified and the replacement part purchased there and then; and with trade shows, the video of a stand or product is enhanced with background information, case studies, product specifications, availability and costs.

Further Thought

We are talking about delivering these services over the top (OTTP) of the mobile networks. Where the future possibilities get really exciting are when these services are delivered as an integral part of an intelligent, mobile network.

The network knows a lot about the customer and hence it can prioritise and contextualise the experience. Frightening? Too Big Brother? Or the best way to filter information when we are exposed to ‘way too much’ content and have less and less time to sift through it and consume what we select?

Conclusion

When video arrived on the web, it changed things. Mobile video has arrived in the form of smartphone apps that are “detached” from the “web.” While we’ve listed just a few examples (above), our belief is that mobile video will have a far greater impact on communications than web video. The world becomes flatter and flatter by the day.

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Broadcasting Live from NAB Show 2011

April 10, 2011

Introduction

What happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas. In fact, with hybrid events, Vegas events are coming to a screen near you, whether that’s your desktop, laptop or tablet.  I’m off to Vegas to be a part of INXPO’s hybrid booth at NAB Show 2011.

Streaming Live

On Monday and Tuesday, April 11-12, 2011, we’ll be broadcasting live from Las Vegas, via a virtual environment called INXPOLIVE.  Register for free here:

http://inxpolive.com

We’ll be featuring live interviews with attendees and exhibitors of NAB Show – and provide “a taste” of NAB Show Virtual View, the online extension to NAB Show, which goes live on May 12, 2011.

Join Us In Person or Virtually

If you’ll be at the show, drop a comment below to let us know if you’d like to chat with us on camera. If you’re not able to join us in Las Vegas, we hope to see you there, virtually.


Hybrid Events Roundtable: Help Us Determine the Questions

March 31, 2011

Hybrid Events Roundtable - Help Us Determine the Questions

Introduction

I’ll be moderating a Focus Roundtable, “Best Practices for Your Next Hybrid Event.” The Roundtable will feature Dave Lutz (Velvet Chainsaw Consulting), Malcolm Lotzof (INXPO) and Samuel Smith (Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC).  We’d like you to shape the questions that get asked to this esteemed panel.

How to Participate

There are a number of ways to participate.

1) Provide your input on Focus.com.

I’ve posted four questions that I may ask to the panel.  Write an answer to the question (on Focus), letting us know which of the four questions you’d like me to ask – and why.  To post an answer, you’ll need to sign up to become a Focus.com member.

2) Vote via Twtpoll.

I’ve posted the same four questions on Twtpoll (Twitter poll).  Visit the Twtpoll page to view the current results – and, to log your own vote.

The Roundtable Flow

The Roundtable is scheduled  for April 6th (Wednesday) at 11AM PT.  Anyone can access the Roundtable via telephone:

Toll-free Dial-In Number: (866) 951-1151
International Dial-In Number: (201) 590-2255
Conference # : 4999006

All callers (besides the speakers) will be muted.  However, you will be seen and heard via Twitter.  Use Twitter hash tag #FocusRT to ask questions of the panel – and to provide comments.  I plan to ask four questions:

  1. Question with the most votes (Focus.com plus Twtpoll)
  2. Question from the Twitter audience (#FocusRT), selected by me
  3. Question with the second most votes (Focus.com plus Twtpoll)
  4. Question from the Twitter audience (#FocusRT), selected by me

As an alternative, feel free to leave a comment below with your panel question (for those of you not inclined to tweet your question).  Hope to “see” you during the roundtable!


Virtual and Hybrid Events Are On The Agenda

March 28, 2011

Virtual and Hybrid Events Are On The Agenda

Introduction

Spring has sprung, which means that the year’s event schedule is now in full swing.  What’s a topic that’s getting a lot of attention?  Virtual and hybrid events.  In the past few weeks alone, virtual and hybrid events have sprung up as session topics in numerous industry events and  meetings.

International Confex, March 2011, London

International Confex took place March 1-3, 2011 in London.  According to the event’s web site, “More than 12,000 people attended the event to see the latest innovations and services in the events industry.”  The event included the following sessions:

  1. “Using virtual worlds to extend reach of events and venues”
  2. “What price for technology – why going virtual can wind up costing more than face to face” (Note: “Contrarian” to virtual, but I’d like to hear more)
  3. “A master class in blending live with online technology presented in association with Eventia”
  4. “Virtual meetings demystified” (featuring my colleague, Chris Meyer of INXPO)

For more information: View the event’s full session agenda.

MTO Summit, March 2011, Chicago

MTO Summit took place March 21-22, 2011 in Chicago.  This event focuses on meeting technology, so it’s no surprise that this year’s Chicago event included a session on virtual events.  The session was titled “How to Make Virtual Events Satisfy Customers and Deliver Profitability,” and featured the following speakers:

  1. Warwick Davies, The Event Mechanic!
  2. Michael Doyle, Virtual Edge Institute
  3. Kenji Haroutunian, Outdoor Nielsen Expositions Sports Group
  4. Michael Kushner, UBM
  5. Stephen Lieber, HIMSS

For more information: View the session listing.

A summary of the session from BizBash: “MTO Summit Addresses Value of Virtual Events, Future of Mobile Apps

Exhibitor 2011, March 2011, Las Vegas

Exhibitor 2011, now in its 23rd year, kicks into gear this week in Las Vegas.  On March 31st, Mike Mraz will lead a session titled “The NEW Tools for Trade Show Success”.  One of the topics Mike will cover during this 90 minute session is “The appeal of virtual trade shows”.

For more information: View the session listing.

EastVirtual Event Workshop, May 2011, Washington D.C.

It’s nice to see workshops 100% focused around virtual event strategies and production.  Earlier this month, Virtual Edge Institute announced a Digital Event Strategist Certification (my thoughts on the certification).

The EastVirtual Event Workshop is a “one-day, face-to-face educational seminar,” that “helps associations go from little or no virtual event knowledge to knowing the first steps for building a 30-day implementation strategy.” It’s a 1-day workshop – and it looks interesting.

For more information: View the workshop web site.

Conclusion

Virtual event planners have more information and tools than ever before.  That being said, we need more discussion, more workshops and more tools. Drop a comment below and let us know what information and tools you need.


My Thoughts on Virtual Edge Institute’s Digital Event Strategist Certification

March 9, 2011

My Thoughts on Virtual Edge Institute's Digital Event Strategist Certification

Introduction

Virtual Edge Institute announced a Digital Event Strategist certification.  The certification will launch in June at the PCMA Education Conference in Baltimore.  This signals an important development in the evolution of our industry.  Here are the phases that I anticipate seeing.

Phase I: Focus on Education and Training

The Virtual Edge Institute (VEI) certification program is the only structured and formalized training program in the digital events space today.  As a result, it will be quite attractive to “newbies” looking to get into the industry (i.e. land their first job). It will also attract experienced digital events professionals who’d like to sharpen their skills or take their knowledge and capabilities to the next level.

I expect that participants in the certification program will also benefit from the opportunity to connect and collaborate with industry peers. While the industry is still small, it can be challenging to meet and connect with the folks doing the same job (as you) at other companies. I’d expect VEI to build community programs around their certification, such as groups (within their existing web site), LinkedIn groups, etc.

Phase II: Focus on the Certification for Career Advancement

While the focus on Phase I was to receive basic education, the program advances to Phase II once a critical mass of professionals achieve certification.  As with any certification program, the early days involve a “chicken and egg” phenomenon, whereby the certification doesn’t take hold until enough people enroll – and, people hold off on enrolling until they see enough “others” doing it.

How can you tell when Phase II arrives? When employers of digital event strategists make the certification a difference maker in the hiring process – and, when the strategists “headline” the certification on their resume or LinkedIn profile.  When we reach this phase, strategists will be compelled to enroll in the program in order to stay current with best practices – and, to advance their careers.

Phase III: Specialization and Standards

As a certification (and the corresponding industry) grows, it often necessitates specialization, as a broad program may no longer be sufficient to address specialized skills.  In digital events, I anticipate specialized certification in the areas of rich media production, hybrid events, mobile technologies and project management.  That’s right – I think it makes sense to have a certification around project management of digital events.

In addition to certification, it would make sense for VEI to define and develop standards for the industry – things like standardization of terminology (e.g. exactly how do you define “virtual event”), the definition and publishing of ROI models, and comparative benchmarks that buyers can use to evaluate digital event platforms and services.

Conclusion

I’m looking forward to the launch of this certification program. While it will be interesting to look at uptake when this program rolls out in June, I’m sure the true impact of the program will be over the long term.


5 Virtual Events Postings You May Have Missed

February 23, 2011

5 Virtual Events Postings You May Have Missed

Introduction

In the rush to get caught up with RSS feeds (that I routinely neglect when busy), I unintentionally skip articles and postings that I’d find quite interesting and valuable. With that in mind, I thought I’d round up recent virtual events postings (from this blog) that you may have otherwise missed.  And yes, I do still use an RSS reader.

1) Interactive Emails and Potential Use in Virtual Event Promotions

Virtual Event Email Promotions and Hotmail Active Views

Like banner ads, email marketing and email (in general), response rates tend to decline over time.  The use of interactive elements (within the email) could be a big win – and this certainly applies to virtual event email promotions. Here’s a link to the full posting:

https://allvirtual.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/virtual-event-email-promotions-and-hotmail-active-views/

2) Virtual Event Lead Management

Virtual Event Lead Management

I outline the “drive-by viewing” that you often see at virtual events and note that those visitors are names, not leads.  I also introduce the notion of curating your leads, as if they were fine art.  Here’s a link to the full posting:

https://allvirtual.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/book-supplement-virtual-event-lead-management-leadmanagement/

3) Why I’m There on Pure Virtual Events

I wrote a counterpoint to an article from Velvet Chainsaw’s Dave Lutz on the topic of pure virtual events. While I’m a firm believer in hybrid events, I also believe in the benefits of “pure” virtual events.  Here’s a link to the full posting:

http://inxpo.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/why-im-there-on-pure-virtual-events/

4) Can I Get a Woo Hoo for Virtual Events?

Can I Get a Woo Hoo for Virtual Events

I loved the tactics used by a department store to encourage customers to contribute (to a charity) at the cash register. I loved it so much, in fact, that I decided to draw parallels with the store’s tactics and apply them towards the planning and promotion of virtual events.  Here’s a link to the full posting:

https://allvirtual.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/can-i-get-a-woo-hoo-for-virtual-events/

5) Use Virtual Booths to Complement Your Physical Booths

Use Virtual Booths to Follow Up with Leads from Your Physical Booth

I outline ways in which a virtual booth can allow trade show exhibitors to distribute content, nurture leads and engage with prospects in real-time (after the event).  Here’s a link to the full posting:

https://allvirtual.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/use-virtual-booths-to-follow-up-with-leads-from-your-physical-booth/

Conclusion

If you liked any of these postings, but missed them when they were originally published, subscribe to the It’s All Virtual RSS feed.  If you do subscribe, but “Mark All As Read” in a rush to get caught up, I forgive you (I know the feeling).



Why I’m There On Pure Virtual Events

January 28, 2011

Introduction

Over on the INXPO blog, I wrote a posting on Why I’m There on Pure Virtual Events.  The posting was a counterpoint to an article written by Dave Lutz (@VelChain) of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.

Dave’s Points

Dave made the following points on “pure” virtual events:

  1. Attendees value the content not the commerce.
  2. They tend to attract an entry- or mid-level professional that lacks enough buying authority or influence to deliver ROI to exhibitors and sponsors.
  3. Networking feels limited if it occurs at all.
  4. It’s difficult to build trust that leads to purchase through a virtual booth.
  5. When education is offered for free and archived, it’s easy to find something more pressing to do. Archived views are less valuable than live ones.
  6. And finally, most webinars stink. I can count the good ones I’ve experienced on one hand.

Point, Counterpoint

I provided some counterpoints to the points.  Here’s a link to the full posting:

http://inxpo.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/why-im-there-on-pure-virtual-events/

I’d be interested in your thoughts – questions include:

  1. What your thoughts on hybrid events?
  2. What are your thoughts on pure virtual events?
  3. How can webinars be more engaging?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts – thanks!


2011 Predictions For Virtual Events

October 30, 2010

As we head into the final 2 months of 2010, it’s time for another round of predictions.  First, let’s review my 2010 predictions:

  1. The 2010 Predictions for Virtual Events
  2. The Mid-Year Report Card on the 2010 predictions
  3. A posting on the Future of Virtual Events

I assigned myself a mid-year grade of B.  And now, I’m designating a final grade of B-.  I hope to improve in this year’s predictions.  To assist with my predictions, I invited a few experts from the community to chime in, so I’ll be including their predictions with my own.

Market Expansion

To date, “market expansion” has meant a growing number of “pure play” virtual event platform providers.  In the US, we started with a handful of major vendors and we’ve seen new entrants into the market in 2009 and 2010.  We also saw the emergence of platforms outside the US, notably in Europe – and in 2009, in Asia Pacific as well.

For a large Requests For Proposal (RFP) in 2009 and 2010, the virtual event platforms knew whom they were competing against (each other).  Starting in 2011, it gets cloudier (pun intended), as the blending of virtual, social and Enterprise 2.0 means that a wider set of vendors are vying for the same business that virtual platforms got in 2010.

Consider the following vendors, each of whom has offerings that (in part) look, feel and smell like virtual events or virtual business communities:

Jive Software, Yammer, Pathable, Facebook Groups, Socialtext, SharePoint (Microsoft) and Lotus (IBM).

Virtual event platforms can expect to sell against some of these players in 2011 and some platforms may go the partnership route, to build a combined offering as a competitive advantage.

Service Level Agreements (SLA)

The virtual events industry is at a point in its growth where Service Level Agreements (SLA) make a lot of sense.  With a growing number of vendors, SLA’s help separate the contenders from the pretenders – if you’re offering money back (or a credit) if an event fails, then only the strong will survive.

I predict that one vendor will lead the way and proactively hit the market with an SLA – forcing others to follow suit later in 2011.  Expect SLA’s around availability and simultaneous users.

Later in 2011 (or perhaps in 2012), SLA’s will be defined around “quality”, such as response time.  This development helps the market – the assurance provided behind an event allows the market to expand, attracting new customer growth that exceeds 2010’s figures.

Market Upheaval

Market expansion and SLA’s mean the strong get stronger. But lesser platforms have a challenging year ahead. According to Cece Salomon-Lee, Principal at PR Meets Marketing, “some players will be bought by larger organizations, merging to bring together complimentary strengths or even some disappearing from the industry all together. No matter how, we will begin to see some consolidation within the industry.”

Meanwhile, Miguel Arias of IMASTE believes that US platforms will look abroad for acquisitions.  To “gain presence, customers and market knowledge” in Europe, Latin America and Asia, Arias believes US platforms will look to partner or acquire in-country platforms in those same regions.

In my mind, there is an enormous, (largely) untapped market within the US, which means that US-based platforms will continue to focus domestically in 2011.  Global expansion will occur in 2012 or beyond.  In addition, due to the “strong get stronger” phenomenon, I predict that one of the prominent US-based platforms will cease operations in 2011 – or, be sold at a below-market price.

Technology A La Carte


Today, virtual event platforms are “monolithic” – you enter an event and all of the functionality provided by the platform sits within that event.  You can’t experience the platform’s features outside of an “event”.  In my futures column, I predicted that virtual events “move closer to the end user”.

Driven by market demand, platforms will “break out” pieces of their technology platform in a la carte fashion. Customers who do not need a five course meal may opt just for an appetizer and coffee.  This may surface in a number of ways, including:

Thin desktop clients, mobile apps, browser toolbars, virtual booths embedded in banner ads, group chat embedded on a web page, etc.

Hybrid Innovation & The Year of the Hybrid

In 2009, some INXPO colleagues and I predicted that 2010 would be The Year of the Hybrid.  This was partially true – in fact, Cisco received the 2010 Grand Ex Award for their hybrid approach to Cisco Live and Networkers. However, the mass adoption of hybrid events (that we predicted) did not ring true.  But that’s OK, it’s always better to be a year early than a year late.

Event and experience marketing agencies have adopted virtual in varying degrees – 2011 is the year where they demonstrate the most aggressive push to date.  You’ll see strong adoption from the “big brands” in 2011 and it will come by way of these channel partners to the virtual event platforms.  2011 will set the foundation for growth – with “hockey stick growth” coming in 2012.

Another major adopter in 2011 will be associations. They’ve done a number of virtual events to date – in 2011, you’ll see 200%+ growth.  Local chapter meetings will continue to occur at physical locations, while the annual, national chapter meeting of the association will move to a hybrid event, with the virtual component serving those members who were not able to make it to the physical gathering.

More generally, 2011 will see innovative technologies that blend the virtual/online world with the real world.  And these same technologies will be integrated into hybrid event experiences, blurring the lines between physical and virtual.  I’m referring to location based services (LBS), mobile, augmented reality and QR codes.  Expect to see a lot of hybrid events innovation, which benefits everyone.

Miscellaneous Predictions

From Miguel Arias, “After some virtual events vendors, marketers and event organisers have shown in 2010 with successful case studies what are the benefits of virtual events we will see much more events and movements in Europe and South America specially.  I expect a 250-300% growth of the total market size in those regions.”

From Cece Salomon-Lee, “I believe the players that will remain on the landscape will begin building out an ecosystem of services to plug-and-play on the platforms.”

From Miguel on vendor specialization, “With more vendors in the space and more clients asking for more tailored solutions we will probably see a leader in the corporate events environment, a leader in the generic trade show market, other for hybrid events, for virtual career fairs, etc.”

Conclusion

I’ll sum up this piece by using a number of nouns to describe what I expect to see in 2011: innovation, shake-out, growth, change, adaptation, expansion, excitement.  Check back here in 6-8 months for my mid-year report card!


Hybrid Events: Where Virtual Complements And Augments Physical

October 13, 2010

Over at the INXPO blog, we had the privilege of publishing guest postings from two thought leaders in the events industry, Heidi Thorne (@heidithorne) and Traci Browne (@tracibrowne).

Both wrote about their experiences attending a hybrid event, Event Camp Twin Cities 2010.  And both came away concluding that virtual components (e.g. video, Twitter, etc.) can significantly augment audience reach and audience engagement.

Successful Hybrid Event Case Study: Event Camp Twin Cities 2010 (by Heidi Thorne)

Heidi served as the Twitter moderator for Event Camp Twin Cities, so she had her hands (and fingers) full, watching the sessions, while exchanging tweets (and retweeting) with the virtual audience.

Of course, the on-site (physical) audiences in the Twin Cities, Dallas and Switzerland were a subset of the virtual audience, since they (on-site) were actively tweeting as well.

Heidi makes good points about the use of technology and virtual moderator(s) in a hybrid event.  Here’s a link to the full posting:

http://inxpo.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/successful-hybrid-event-case-study-event-camp-twin-cities-2010/

Make Your Events and Expos a Virtual Reality (by Traci Browne)

Traci attended Event Camp Twin Cities from her home office and felt like she was there in the Twin Cities.  She then gives us all some food for thought, by providing hybrid event ideas for Education and Networking.

For Education, I love idea #3, to interview virtual attendees and broadcast the interviews to the on-side audience.  What a great way to bring the virtual into the physical.

For Networking, I love idea #2, to have physical attendees send swag bags to virtual attendee pen pals, with the physical attendee’s name attached to it.  I say we go with T-shirts and pens and hold the coffee and cocktails.  Here’s a link to the full posting:

http://inxpo.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/make-your-events-and-expos-a-virtual-reality/

Thanks, Heidi and Traci, for the insightful postings.


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