Pictured: Rich Hawkinson of INXPO, alongside Emilie Barta, Virtual Host / Emcee.
The evolution of online events closely mirrors the evolution of broadcast mediums. Radio is a one-way audio broadcast. Next came television, which is a one-way broadcast that includes sight and sound. Now there’s “socially interactive” television, in which viewers engage with their social graph in parallel to the TV (e.g. on a laptop, tablet or smartphone) – or, directly from the television set.
With online events, we had audio-based webinars with synchronized slides. Next came webinars that integrated live video, along with live video broadcasts of session content from physical events. And now with virtual platforms, the live video content takes center stage, with interactive elements placed around it, such as chat, blogs, tweets and Facebook posts.
Virtual Platform as Your Remote Control
Let’s take the case of the annual association meeting or a corporation’s customer conference. A virtual platform can complement the physical event to create a hybrid event. The virtual platform serves as an interactive guide – a remote control, if you will – to the happenings at the physical event. The virtual platform enables the channel that resides within your TV (e.g. your desktop, laptop or tablet).
The great thing about a hybrid experience, however, is that content from the physical event does not have to be consumed passively. Rather, virtual attendees experience the content simultaneously with fellow virtual attendees, along with participants at the physical event. And, they do so via active participation.
What’s the glue that brings these audiences together? A virtual platform, along with Twitter, a virtual emcee and more. A virtual emcee, combined with Twitter, gives the virtual audience a voice, allowing them to be a part of the conversation at the physical event. They’re able to pose questions to the keynote speaker, along with passersby who stop to chat with the emcee.
Virtual Platform as Corporate Video Channel
Some corporations have studio facilities the size of my local TV network affiliate. Corporations are producing more video content than ever before, both to share with the public, and to distribute internally. Video provides a more emotional connection, enables executives to better inspire their employees and is more effective in instructional training (e.g. how to assemble our latest widget).
It’s only natural that video content is central to many corporate virtual events. Internal corporate events tend to kick off with a live video keynote, followed by a series of video-based presentations. In addition, related and contextual content is made available in the form of on-demand videos.
In these sorts of events, the role of the virtual platform is to seamlessly integrate the video content and provide interactive tools (e.g. chat, blogs, message boards) adjacent to the featured videos. Since most corporate events are private, social network integration (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) is typically disabled.
With INXPO VX Platform, we're enabling the shift towards "hybrid events as Interactive TV". Our VX Platform hosted our own channel at Virtual Edge Summit 2011 - and, we have exciting new features planned in 2011 to further complement events via TV-like experiences.
With video seemingly everywhere, it’s the job of a virtual platform to provide a seamless experience that focuses on the featured content (video) while providing interactive tools for attendees to comment, interact and collaborate about it.