Digital Meetings Are Transforming Corporate Events and Training

What you need to know to maximize impact and ROI.

The corporate events landscape is undergoing massive change as new technologies and workstyles evolve. Trends related to remote working and a flattened, global workplace are accelerating. Enterprises need to reach their global workforces, partners, and customers anywhere in the world in a highly professional and cost-efficient manner. Digital meetings with streaming technologies increasingly are replacing live meetings, making it easier and more efficient than ever before to share company news in a highly engaging, interactive manner, whether for small team meetings or for collaborating with tens of thousands for large town hall-type gatherings. 

These trends are propelling significant growth in the global market for digital meeting solutions. According to Wainhouse Research, the market for enterprise streaming and services was estimated to grow to $2.7 billion in 2018, up 13 percent from the prior year.

Corporate meetings have new meaning when conducted virtually, whether through Webcasts, Webinars, virtual conferences, steaming media, or social media platforms. No longer do employees need to be present to interact dynamically. They can connect in real time from their desktops or mobile devices from anywhere in the world and interact with colleagues through presentations that are streamed with audio, slides, and live video. In some respects, remote participation enables a richer and more meaningful experience due to features that enable instant feedback, such as polling, chat, and analytical reporting for measuring the success of the meetings. 

Of the 30,000 digital events Arkadin produced in 2017, the majority were in the banking/finance, professional services, high-tech, and health-care/pharmaceutical verticals. Leading usages were for internal communications (43 percent); investor relations (36 percent); and marketing/sales and training/education, which together accounted for 11 percent. The largest growth applications were for training/education, which grew at 148 percent; crisis communications, which increased 69 percent; and lead generation for marketing/sales, which increased by 55 percent. We expect these applications to continue to lead in the near term, and for the health-care/pharmaceutical vertical to take on a significantly greater share of market moving forward.

What You Need to Know to Get Started

Digital meeting technologies afford a great deal of flexibility in how audiences receive content. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Regardless of whether your company is a multinational conglomerate or a 50-person small business, careful planning is essential for ensuring successful outcomes. Risk arises when there isn’t adequate preparation. Arkadin’s experience in producing digital meetings for some of the largest Global 500 companies and small to mid-sized enterprises has provided valuable insights into the opportunities and the challenges involved. You need to carefully consider each of these points before choosing a solution and service provider: 

  • Business objective/purpose of the communication and audience size: Small regional meeting, global all-hands, investor earnings call, sales kick-offs, lead generation marketing Webinars, etc.
  • Meeting requirements: Integrated audio, document sharing, slides, streaming media, analytics, live questions, chat, polling, surveys, etc.
  • Technology requirements: Network bandwidth capacity for supporting video and streamed media and security integration such as single sign-on (SSO).
  • On-demand viewing any time, from any device, for extending the value of the events: Once videos are produced, they can be archived and shared for viewing directly or through a video streaming platform, essentially an Enterprise You Tube, for internal audiences with optional single-sign-on access and portals that can offer restricted access for external audiences. 
  • Integration with additional platforms: Videos also can be leveraged for marketing and sales campaigns that offer e-mail tracking through tools such as Eloqua and Marketo and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions such as Salesforce.

The technology choices suited to staging virtual events for most corporate applications include: 

  • Webinars: This audio and Web platform is ideal for real-time collaboration involving screen sharing, demos, and video, and it is particularly well suited for small audiences that require high levels of participation and verbal engagement.
  • Webcasts: When you need to broadcast information from one to 50 or to tens of thousands of live attendees in a dynamic interactive format, Webcasting is an ideal choice. Smaller meetings can be produced with self-service licensed solutions, while larger, more complex meetings are best with a managed Webcast event service. These solutions enable organizers to pair rich media, including broadcast video, with other content suitable for large employee gatherings, training sessions, shareholder meetings, and earnings calls. Dynamic interactive exchanges can be achieved through audience surveys, polling, live chat, and Q&A. 
  • Virtual conferences: When organizations need to engage audiences through multiple meetings that take place simultaneously, sometimes over several days, virtual conferences are the answer. They are especially suitable for large sales kick-offs, training sessions, and career fairs. One of our large pharmaceutical clients recently hosted a two-day virtual conference using our fully managed Webcast technology.Attendees logged in securely using single sign-on (SSO) to enter the virtual conference venue, and once in, registered to participate in various sessions from a customized list applicable to their profiles. Some sessions were large town-hall format Webcasts, while others were interactive virtual breakout sessions.

How to Ensure a Smooth-Running, Polished Event

  • Make it as simple as possible: It’s essential that virtual events are easy for hosts and attendees to participate from desktops or mobile devices of choice. While small Webinars and Webcasts can be initiated instantly without formal training through self-serve solutions, corporate teams staging larger Webcasts and virtual trade shows need specially trained conference operators and the live assistance available with managed services. Look for providers that offer a full complement of technical experts and operators with a successful track record.
  • Insist on highly reliable and secure platforms: This is essential for any meeting, but when CEOs and investors are involved, the stakes are sky high. Whether you rely on your internal IT team or an outsourced service provider, be sure you have a highly secure and redundant network that can support multiple levels of rich media applications 
  • Use providers with global capabilities and local support: When worldwide reach is required, you need a service provider that offers real-time language and localization support, as well as the ability to host events over multiple time zones. Choose a partner that can help navigate the choices and administer support from local teams. 
  • Engage attendees and their social networks: Look for solutions with a broad array of widgets for engaging audiences, whether through chat, Q&A, real-time polling, and/or post-event satisfaction surveys. An immersive environment will help increase retention of the content and enable you to measure involvement. As the saying goes: “Tell me, I will forget; show me, I may remember; involve me, and I will understand.” Social media functionality will enhance engagement by enabling attendees to instantly share content through their community networks. 

Measuring Value: ROI Can Be Off the Charts Cost savings from conducting digital meetings events can be staggering, especially for large global conferences. The reduction or outright elimination of travel expenses for in-person meetings, however, is just one way to calculate ROI. Consider the savings associated with planning and the added value of being able to expand attendance to a larger pool of employees and other constituents who can participate remotely live or on demand as their schedules permit.

Large, all-hands Webcasts have been an essential component of the American Cancer Society’s internal communications program. Arkadin Webcast has given it an interactive platform that scales for viewing by thousands of employees and volunteers in its network. Its signature Society Talk program, which is modeled on a virtual conference for delivering critical information to staff, involves streaming pre-recorded and live interviews with executives for employee interaction via mobile devices and social media. The Webcasts were especially effective in addressing change management topics for 6,000 employees when the society was undergoing a massive organizational restructuring.

Damien Bayle is Arkadin’s managing director of Conferencing and Events. An NTT Communication company, Arkadin is a global leader in cloud collaboration technologies. Arkadin’s U.S. headquarters is based in Atlanta. Arkadin enables clients to succeed in a digitally connected workplace with market leading cloud communications services. More than 50,000 businesses spanning the largest global enterprises to small companies have successful collaboration experiences from Arkadin’s audio/Web/videoconferencing, and Unified Communications services. For more information, visit: www.arkadin.com | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

 

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