Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The 2009 Anaqua User Conference

The Anaqua user community continues to be an important value for Anaqua’s clients. They include world leaders in technology, industry and consumer goods with a willingness to share and contribute for the good of the community. The opportunity to learn how others have solved problems and introduced new methods for their IAM practices is invaluable.

This year’s annual Anaqua User Conference continued and expanded this community activity. Previous years’ events in Toronto, Boston and Delray Beach, Florida took place over 3 days with both business and social sessions and ample time for networking and informal discussions. In planning for this year’s event in the last few months of 2008, we quickly realized that the declining economic environment made it very difficult for our clients to commit to budget expenses for May of 2009. As a result of this feedback, and with the overwhelming support of the Anaqua User Council, we made this year’s conference a virtual, on-line event.

Conference sessions covered business topics including: IP Leadership in a Troubled Economy; Successful Change Management in a Legal Organization; IP Valuation, as well as technical topics such as the Anaqua Roadmap and How to do a Successful Software Upgrade. There were a number of client case studies and panels as well as Anaqua training sessions on areas of the product such as budgeting and reporting.

Over 100 attendees participated in a very successful conference over five days from April 27 to May 1 and the feedback is in - how does a virtual event compare to a traditional physical conference?

Advantages:

  • Significant cost savings with no travel or accommodation expenses
  • Broader attendance – more of the client team can participate without concern for cost
  • Easier to invite guest speakers when they do not have to travel

Disadvantages:

  • Lack of face-to-face networking. Many said that this was an important aspect to preserve in future events. Open mikes and social networking software can help but does not substitute for direct interaction with people.
  • Time zone challenges – it is (just) possible to accommodate US Pacific to Central Europe business hours but in practice impossible to include live participation from Asian attendees as well.

Anaqua will review options with the User Council for the 2010 conference, but the early indications are that we will return to a physical event supplemented by virtual services for important sessions.


Do you have experience with virtual events? I’d love to hear your comments! Please comment here or email me at ireid@anaqua.com - Ian Reid, vp marketing, Anaqua.

1 comment:

VirtualEdge.org said...

I know this blog is for your partners and customers but I thought it was interesting and wanted to offer a couple of observations. You are quite right about the global time zone issue it is a challenge with virtual events I've covered it a couple of times on our virtualedge.org site in my blog and an article or two. People are dealing with it in different ways but mostly it comes down to either making the best schedule and just know you are going to have people that don't show up live. More creative ways to deal with it are to start (very early in the am) with content that is really geared toward a different region like EMEA and then moving toward more general content and then again more region specific ASIAPAC in the evening. I think next year you'll see more of this as most event teams were caught off guard this year and were (are) scrambling to get their event produced. Some teams I've talked to are going more toward mixed events with a central physical event with virtual and then regional/local social/meeting physical get-togethers but with mostly virtual content.

Networking is important of course and people are doing it more and more virtually in fact some events have more people that visit the networking activities and lounges than the expo. But we are still in the very early stages of virtual events and we are still dealing with a large part of the work force that isn't even comfortable with a webcam and most haven't spent time with interactive video games so it is still very new and ne is often uncomfortable at first. But networking and collaboration will improve and video will have a lot to do with it. I used to say that virtual events will never replace a handshake but now some shows are discouraging hand shaking (there is a new elbow bump move out there though). The point is that physical events probably won’t go away but will be very different going forward and virtual will become more critical.