“It's time to get strategic with virtual events!,” according to Sam Smith of Interactive Meeting Technology as he shared early findings from an MPI Foundation Research Study on Virtual Meetings at IMEX America’s MPI MeetDifferent Day of Education & Innovation.
For the past few years, Virtual Events have been treated as one-offs by many companies and professionals within the industry. He discussed what we’ve learned in the study that explored how leading edge organizations are integrating virtual events into their strategic meetings management programs.
The session attendees were polled about their technology IQ. Fifty-three percent of participants rated themselves as “middle of the road – I know a lot but am still learning” and 33 percent felt they’re trying to catch up. Smith’s suggestions were to keep asking questions.
He discussed different virtual platforms such as telemedicine, online university and high school courses and YouTube educational programs as examples of the different applications of virtual connections.
What does this mean for corporate meetings? The Virtual Meetings related to Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) study found that 75 percent of organizations have no formal definition of virtual meetings. Every person they talked to in the study had a different definition of what virtual meetings mean. 75 percent of study respondents admitted they do not have a formal virtual meeting policy, yet 45 percent did have a policy around sourcing virtual meetings. Also more than 90 percent of respondents consider video conferencing and online meetings using platforms such as WebEx to be part of their virtual meetings definition. Finally, 60 percent said they recommend having virtual meetings.
Smith discussed the pros and cons of going virtual – networking being the primary reason to not hold virtual meetings. But cost and time away from office were also compelling reasons to hold virtual meetings.
He had three case study examples of companies who have strategic policies in place regarding virtual meetings and their successes and challenges. These will be reported in the study findings being published later this year.
Finally, the audience responded to the question “where do you need the most help with virtual meetings?” Thirty-two percent said the development team capability was their biggest issue and 20 percent said they need help defining measurements.
Suggested takeways for attendees to use at IMEX and beyond are as follows: For your IMEX America Experience:
Find partners who can help you develop newly expanded ideas on strategy for your organization. Network with planners and suppliers who successfully organize and manage virtual events.
For your Career:
Understand the repercussions of decisions about new technology implementation and whether to go virtual or partially virtual. Discuss how it will affect outcomes in organizational and departmental strategy.
What are your challenges with virtual meetings and where are you in incorporating them into your strategic portfolio?