The COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating effect on the lives of millions and has driven companies to think about how business is conducted. Finding new ways to keep engaging with customers despite the challenges of lockdowns, social distancing and other restrictions isn’t easy and most have seen a fundamental shift in the day-to-day approach to operations. One of the areas that has seen exponential growth accelerated by the pandemic is on-line engagement: Zoom, Teams, Meet (and others) calls, webinars and virtual events have all been heavily utilised as a substitute for face-to-face meetings, but have they delivered and will they continue when we emerge from the pandemic?
At Motorola Solutions, we have been running webinars and holding on-line meetings for many years and they are a great way to reach a large number of people. They allow us to regularly engage with our customers, rather than the once or twice a year that was possible at physical events, and this year we’ve been holding more sessions than ever.
A huge difference for us in the last 12 months has been the emergence of virtual events: we’ve taken part in several on-line industry events like Critical Communications Week and we’ve also developed the Motorola Solutions VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE CENTER (VEC) that simulates an exhibition space to showcase our whole portfolio. It has a futuristic design that is especially impressive using a VR headset and it lets us showcase our entire range of products in a way that wouldn’t be possible in the real world. It’s almost a year since we launched the VEC and in the intervening time we’ve expanded it to cover more products, more information and added a virtual tour guide to explain what’s on offer.
As I look to the future of virtual events, it’s undeniable that on-line formats offer advantages: on-demand systems like our VEC make access convenient for people across time-zones, the always-on nature makes repeat visits easy and far more can be covered virtually than is practical in the real world. On the flip side, they can’t match the interaction, networking and “touched with your own hand” experience of physical events. They also need to continue evolving to stay interesting and relevant.
Although some countries are still firmly in the grip of the pandemic, others are beginning to show signs of starting to open up. I think virtual events are here to stay, but as a part of the marketing mix and not as a substitute for in-person activities as some have suggested. I’d love to hear your experiences and views on the real vs virtual debate.
Head of EMEA Solutions Marketing
Motorola Solutions UK Limited
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