CIO Summit goes hybrid

Published on the 30/06/2020 | Written by Heather Wright

Virtual and real world combine in post-Covid offering…

IDC and Conferenz, the organisers of this year’s CIO Summit have taken the theme of thriving in the innovation age to heart, serving up New Zealand’s largest-ever paid hybrid live and virtual event, opening doors to a wider audience and bringing new benefits for attendees.

The annual conference – New Zealand’s premier leadership summit for senior ICT executives and one of the largest IT events in the country ­– will combine the live show from Auckland’s Spark Arena on August 25-26, with a virtual event ‘from the CIO Stadium’.

“We’ll want to keep some of the really good features of the virtual environment and the wider reach you can get from a virtual event.”

Yvonne Gill, IDC Australia and New Zealand events and marketing director, says the changes, driven by the rapidly evolving Covid-19 pandemic, will provide attendees with more choice.

“Rather than turning up and having to follow an agenda and set order of how to engage with things, attendees – both live and virtual – will have the choice to view content, engage with exhibitors and interact with the different elements when they want to,” Gill says.

The addition of the virtual element will also provide access to more content through on-demand access to the full event, including exhibitor stands, for 30 days.

The full live event, now in its fourteenth year, will be held at Spark Arena, with key themes of thriving in the innovation age, driving modernisation and digitisation, customer-centricity as the motivation for transformation, leading today’s ICT teams and getting ready for the next generation of talent, and taking risk management and governance to the next level.

All the event’s usual features, including the exhibition space, keynote speakers and seminar streams will return in full.

“Then running alongside that will be the virtual event with all of the content streamed and on-demand, along with all the virtual exhibition booths,” Gill says.

Attendees will be able to navigate around the virtual exhibition and interact with any sponsor booths, including having video or audio chats with staff on the booth. Downloadable content and competitions will also feature while networking zones, with chat room functionality, will enable delegates to interact with each other.

All content will be available live and on-demand and virtual attendees will be able to ask questions of speakers similar to if they were attending the live event. Featured speakers include Emergent founder and CEO Holly Ransom, Miao Song from Mars Pet Food, Future Crunch’s political economist Angus Hervey and cancer researcher Tane Hunter, Hewlett Packard Enterprise senior VP and CTO, AI, Eng Lim Goh and IDC’s own Matt Eastwood and Kitty Fok. With borders closed for the foreseeable future, international speakers will be attending via live videoconference links.

“With this we can really cater to both those who are available to attend the physical event and to those whose companies may have restrictions on travel or attending large events, or anything like that,” Gill says.

“People can attend in whatever way works for them. It’s an opportunity for the New Zealand tech community to come together and really start looking at the recovery and how we can emerge from the Covid crisis stronger than ever.”

CIO Summit is harnessing the vFairs virtual conference platform for the virtual component of the show.

“We were looking for a platform that was interactive and would enable us to have the complete virtual exhibition, as well as having different content streams and a range of ways for delegates and sponsors to engage and interact during the event,” Gill says. Ensuring the event provided value to sponsors was also a key consideration.

Gamification will also be included in the virtual experience to encourage interaction with all the different elements of the Summit.

Gill notes that organising this year’s event, originally scheduled for June, has been both interesting and challenging, as organisers adjusted to the constantly changing Covid alert levels and public health requirements.

When Covid-19 made its presence felt in New Zealand in March, organisers initially postponed the event to August, keeping it as a live show. Just days later, with New Zealand in full lockdown, IDC and Conferenz began looking at options for a virtual event, settling on the vFair platform. New Zealand’s rapid move back to Level 1, and the end of restrictions on large groups, saw live events viable again, and prompted the organisers to scale up the live elements of the event, while keeping the virtual aspect.

The resultant hybrid model is one Gill believes will remain long after Covid is gone.

“The hybrid model will definitely be what comes out of this in the end. People will want to go back to having the in-person event, and that face-to-face experience with all the networking, but we’ll also want to keep some of the really good features of the virtual environment and the wider reach you can get from a virtual event.”

One part of the event which won’t be going virtual is the CIO Awards. Normally held as a Gala Dinner at the CIO Summit, this year will see the awards as a separate event, held November 24 at Auckland’s Civic Theatre.

Finalists will be announced at the Summit.

Gill says the awards night, and its focus on networking and celebrating the award winners, lends itself to being a physical event, rather than virtual.

Entries for the awards, originally due during lockdown, have been extended to July 15.

Virtual only attendance has a lower price point.

For more information or to register for the New Zealand CIO Summit.

CIO Summit 2020

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