Event Platforms Bloom in a World Gone Hybrid


Summary Bullets:

G. Willsky

• The best event platforms enable execution of hybrid events spanning in-person and virtual attendees.

• Event organizers benefit disproportionately from event platforms as compared to attendees.

When COVID-19 arrived, virtual meetings became de rigueur seemingly overnight. Almost as soon as vaccines began to be administered and a pandemic ‘exit strategy’ took shape, team collaboration platforms graduated from facilitating ‘meetings’ to enabling ‘events’. What features do event platforms typically possess and are these platforms worthy of accolades? Let’s find out.

Team collaboration platforms have expanded to include large-scale, multi-session events and conferences. Such affairs are reminiscent of the pre-COVID world when no one thought twice about jetting to destinations near and far to cram into hotel venue rooms or convention centers. The best platforms today reflect the need for some to join from the comfort and solitude of a home or office while others navigate crowds traversing miles of institutional carpeting stretching under their feet. Vendors such as Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom have invested heavily in fortifying their event capabilities.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, “hybrid” has emerged in the lexicon to represent a new normal in the workplace – a blending of in-office and virtual employees. The new event capabilities of team collaboration platforms are a corollary to that reality as some enable execution of events which mix in-person and virtual attendees.

The most sophisticated event platforms span activities conducted before, during, and after events. These range from registration, ticketing, and agenda building to audience engagement plays such as polls and Q&A sessions to post-event analysis. Other capabilities come into the fold such as background noise removal, immersive sharing, and real-time translation.

So how worthy of accolades are event platforms? Somewhat.

For event attendees, whether virtual or onsite, it is business as usual (albeit a relatively new “usual”). Virtual attendees enjoy a gripping meeting experience by virtue of the various bells and whistles inherent in the platforms, which are fast becoming the norm. Meanwhile, these embellishments largely elude on-site attendees. For them, they simply return to a time before virtual events existed and everything took place on-site.

In comparison to event attendees, event organizers benefit disproportionately. Event platforms facilitate ticketing, registration, and post-event analytics. Rich data is provided to assess the value an event generated on behalf of attendees which can then be weighed against the expense incurred in hosting it. Over time, companies can sponsor increasingly more valuable and more cost effective events.

Bottom line, event platforms provide real benefits. But the benefits are heavily skewed towards event organizers and are quickly becoming table stakes as the world turns hybrid.

What do you think?

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