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Re-Thinking events after the pandemic

May 11, 2021 5:15:22 AM Neil Cornish Business, Events, IBM, Value Proposition, COVID-19

With IBM’s global, flagship event Think! starting this week, it’s a reminder of how many of the industry’s largest conferences have found a way to exist on-line. IBM | Think 2021


Typically Think! draws 20,000 people to Las Vegas or San Francisco for 4 days. The financial loss to the Cities, hotels, hospitality venues and the local travel companies is huge. However, the reduction in costs to customers and partners, as well as IBM is equally large. And with 20,000 less people flying, there is also a major reduction in the event’s carbon footprint.


Making the business case for events to return once the pandemic is over will be a lot different. What is the business benefit? How do you quantify it?


A big part of organising major industry conferences was to sell the message to company thought leaders, who would then act as evangelists back to their businesses. Prior to the pandemic this worked, as there was often little thought given to addressing the wider audience, who were sitting at home and never got the opportunity to go to Las Vegas or San Francisco.


However, we have missed seeing people face-to-face, reading the body language, having an impromptu conversation about something you would never bring up on a conference call. The ability to create and innovate, through the layered conversations that take place over a period of 3 or 4 days at something like Think! These might be at breakfast or over dinner. Or in the gym or even the golf course! Meeting people outside of your zoom network.


But, as much as we want this normality to return, the business case for investing in sending individuals to such events will come under more scrutiny. What was the benefit, could we spend the money on something with a more directly attributable return? Combined with the increased Health and Safety Risk assessments that are going to be necessary, for both organising and attending these events, it will be easy for organisers and participants to put these events off.


Event messaging will need to be thought through, benefits of physical attendance articulated by organisers and why it couldn’t take place as a conference call. We had already begun to see some major events being streamed live prior to the pandemic and this is likely to become an essential part of future conference planning.


Making our zoom meetings more engaging has been part of the challenge for our Value Proposition Workshops. Although we can’t put the team in a room to brainstorm and share ideas, we have been able to do this on-line by making the physical whiteboard part of the workshop. (Much easier to grasp and share than some of the on-line alternatives). And this has enabled them to happen at short notice, fitting in to people’s diaries easier and involve critical people that otherwise would be prohibited by having to travel long distances.


So, if you are planning to develop a new business stream, have a new solution you want to take to market or maybe you’ve made an acquisition, then these workshops can help establish what your value proposition could be. In 2.5 hours, you will have something that connects your customers with your business, and that your staff can articulate with confidence. If this resonates then please get in touch. We look forward to working with you.


Neil Cornish

Written by Neil Cornish

Neil Cornish is Business Development Manager at Tech Data UK


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