It seems that every single big tech company is thinking of hybrid solutions for a hybrid world. We are probably all exhausted from listening to all these theories and theses around Hybrid events. If it’s true that we are going to be living in a hybrid world (and I think that it is), we should probably have a different mindset.
If we are going to be living in a hybrid world, what is going to be the role of hybrid events?
Let’s talk about the hybrid world first. The remote work trend is fascinating to analyze. Many employees are demanding their employers be more flexible in terms of a post-Covid remote work environment. And, big tech companies like Microsoft, Alphabet, Apple, Salesforce, Amazon, etc., are investing billions of dollars in developing hybrid cloud technologies for any company that wants to provide flexible solutions for their employees in order to attract and retain top talent. Some of these same big tech companies and hundreds of well-founded tech startups are investing in healthcare tech solutions for doctors and their patients who want flexibility and efficiencies in the way that they related to their health services. A similar situation is happening in the education industry, where teachers and students are now interacting on a hybrid model. This is also the case for executive education, many conferences, and online education programs. I could go on with additional massive industries following on a similar path.
It seems that live events are not going to be isolated on this trend.
Every event stakeholder (visitor, sponsor, speaker, exhibitor, service provider, etc.) is rethinking how they could interact with their events experiences. We covered and analyzed many of these ideas as a part of our Reinventing Live book, and we are continuing to learn about new examples on a daily basis. Innovation around each event category (trade shows, conferences, corporate events, MICE, sports, festivals, etc.) is moving faster than ever – this is great news if we want to keep events marketing investments as a key category in the future.
If you are organizing an event and you want to retain loyalty and engagement from your community and stakeholders, you will need to adjust your business model and value proposition in a manner that provides alternative and flexible options to each stakeholder in order to keep their engagement active.
It’s basically the same problem or challenge that any company is going to face if they demand their employees to have mandatory 9 to 5 office hours instead of flexible remote options. Some companies will face the risk of losing or not attracting top talent if their model is not flexible. Some events will experience similar challenges with their stakeholders.
This is the main reason why I think that event tech is not going away and will continue to grow during the next decade. Every event organizer who wants to be relevant to their community will need to increase their digital and tech investments to allow their stakeholders to participate in their events in flexible ways.
Sometimes, it will be just virtual exposure to some keynotes and education sessions or meetings, and, sometimes, it will require a hybrid model or purely the use of good old face-to-face or IRL (in real life) experiences. I keep saying that face-to-face is not going away, but virtual and hybrid models are also here to stay.
In parallel, there are still so many problems to fix around event tech and tech in general. Data privacy, ownership, and security are critical problems, and many event tech players are struggling to generate trust with their customers. Like in the hybrid world, some tech companies will be on the right side of history in this topic, and others will probably be on the “dark side of the force” or simply out of business. During his Inspire 2021 keynote this week, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, mentioned that “data sovereignty” is one of the big tech topics as of right now. Are customers comfortable with the fact that they own their own data? The same problem is happening for event and media owners.
Who will be on the right side of history regarding event tech data ownership in the events industry? How can we create industry standards that generate transparency and trust faster? In a hybrid world, these are important strategic decisions for your business.
I remember the famous essay written by Marc Andreesen in 2011 where he wrote, “software is eating the world,” almost ten years ago. He was so right, and, today tech is now a critical part of every single industry and business, meaning live events are no longer isolated.
A hybrid world is coming, with big tech companies leading the way with the creation and integration of amazing new technologies that will make our lives far more flexible and overall better.
A new generation of event tech startups will also lead the way into a more efficient value proposition for the live events industry, generating new business models, revenue, and growth opportunities.
If you agree that we should prepare for a hybrid world and you identify as an event tech founder or “events 2.0” organizer, please DM me and share your own experiences and/or tech solutions. We want to be sure that we can analyze collaboration opportunities and keep building great opportunities for the live events industry.