We are big fans of Virtual Events software.  The ability to efficiently and cost effectively bring people together from disparate locations and have them interact in a truly social environment makes a lot of business sense.  2010 was certainly the coming out party for Virtual Events. What was once viewed upon skeptically by meeting planners, trade show organizers, and event marketers is quickly becoming an integral part of one’s event and marketing strategies.  With that said, we believe the next generation use of these tools is close at hand.  It doesn’t require much of a leap to take the technology to the next level and apply it in areas of corporate communications, professional development, or product training–areas outside of a pure sales and marketing perspective.  However, for this to occur there needs to be a fundamental shift in thinking to enable persistent environments.  In other words, there needs to be a shift from virtual events to digital business environments.   In a digital business environment, participants have always available, on demand, 24x7x365 access to their digital workspaces and relevant content is being posted on an ongoing basis.  For this to take place, the following must occur:

  • Virtual events vendors must change their subscription model to relect the realities of a persistent environment.
    • The major players in the virtual events space all have something in common–their pricing model is centered around per event use.  So, other then a several month discount for a full years worth of use, it costs relatively more than it should to be “open for business” all year long.  By way of example, it can cost 10 times as much for 12 months of ongoing access as it does for a 30 day subscription.  Vendors who want to foster the creation of persistent environments will need to rethink their pricing strategies.
  • Clients must think “outside the box” and embrace the use of a persistent environment.
    • Organizations tend to think of using virtual events software just as the name implies–for trade shows, conferences and other corporate events.  The thought of using this technology in the context of a centralized workspace used for content aggregation and ongoing corporate communications is a fairly new phenomenon, although companies like IBM, HP and Cisco are beginning t change that perception.
  • Clients must develop a strategy and tactics for how to use the environment in comparison to current tools.
    • There are many collaborative tools of one form or another currently available to employees.  Intranets, extranets, websites, desktop sharing, and web conferencing systems–all may have their proper place.  As is often the situation however, a virtual business environment can minimize, even subsume, the need for these other applications.  Developing an understanding of and strategy for how and when these tools are best used is critical to a successful deployment of a persistent environment.

Once in place, this virtual workspace will serve as common ground for our daily operations.  People will work more as participatory business collaborators and less as passive event attendees.  The result is better communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing.

We should all try to be more “persistent” in adopting such a continuous virtual platform for our daily operations–the digital business environment.

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