Almost a year ago to the day, the first case of COVID-19 was reported – and the world went digital. Online shopping surged. Dinner delivery became de rigueur. And Zoom was suddenly a noun (“Schedule the meeting on Zoom.”), a verb (“Let’s Zoom at 2:00.”), and an adjective (“I’m Zoomed out.”).
Most companies, even those in old-line industries such as manufacturing, have now gone digital to some extent. Sales teams are holding training online. Human Resources departments are on-boarding new employees virtually. And marketers and event planners worldwide have teleported their audiences into event cyberspace. But at many companies, the lack of a single virtual environment to host all of these initiatives means efforts are falling far short of their potential. As one of 6Connex’s newest customers reported, “Digital event technology was popping up everywhere within our organization, and business units were spending budget on what were essentially duplicate resources. From the marketing department in Europe to the Human Resources department in the United States, we had varying proofs of concept for virtual events. Where they were working well, they weren’t being embraced at large scale.”
Furthermore, most departmental purchases of virtual event technology were unexpected and therefore outside of planned budgets. As a result, many solutions were purchased based on price, not on fit. These technologies rarely integrated with larger business systems, introducing manual work into everything from branding to reporting, and user adoption rates were often lackluster. States one Chief Human Resources Officer, “The growing number of virtual event solutions we were asking our employees to navigate wasn’t helping the employee experience. A single sales rep could be asked to log on to one virtual event for diversity training, another for the sales kickoff, and a third for the customer user group.” A survey by Wrike in July 2020 validates this sentiment, in which approximately 33% of remote workers reported their companies used multiple – and redundant – systems.
Perhaps nowhere has this multiplicity been more keenly felt than in marketing departments, which are on the receiving end of duplicate and triplicate ‘asks’ for virtual event elements such as copy and graphic design – breeding inefficiencies within marketing workflows and inserting a clot in marketers’ lifeblood: focus, creativity, and curiosity. As a result, many Chief Marketing Officers are pushing back and seizing the opportunity to establish a blueprint and roadmap for virtual events company-wide, beginning with the technology.
In 2021, many Chief Marketing Officers have prioritized licensing a single, cloud-based virtual environment for wide-spread corporate use, a seemingly logical decision in the aftermath of an illogical year. At their core, virtual environments deliver information and instruction, group communication and collaboration, and engagement and entertainment – common needs across all departments. Furthermore, virtual environments are “always on,” allowing audiences to engage with the content and with each other at any time during the 24-hour day, a benefit that doesn’t discriminate along business lines or geography: marketing events can expand their reach; H.R. training can go on-demand; global sales reps can interact with peers and prospects as if they were in the same room. And with only one virtual environment to build and brand, Marketing can streamline productivity and efficiently deliver a unified customer and employee brand experience.
Employees too are freed from the burden of multiple technology applications. From open enrollment to a quarterly kickoff, they need only know how to navigate one solution, and they can tailor their participation to match their work style preferences. For example, visual learners can download a product demonstration, while verbal learners can watch a presentation.
Savvy CFOs and CIOs are also throwing their support behind the technology. A single enterprise virtual environment reduces the complexity of dealing with multiple vendors and lowers the total cost of ownership. It streamlines the IT ecosystem and minimizes the security risk associated with multiple technologies. Added bonus: cloud architecture means the vendor is on the hook for updates and maintenance, reducing demand for internal IT resources and improving ROI.
Viewed in this context, it only makes sense that a virtual environment would be an essential solution in an organization’s technology stack, similar to a CRM. Observes 6Connex Chief Marketing Officer Luiz Martins, “If 2020 was the year of ‘purchase and run,’ 2021 is the year of ‘exploit and adopt.’”