New Perspectives on Virtual Events Emerge After a Year of Learnings
At SAP, we have long relied on a spectrum of events to discuss business and technology topics, showcase new solutions, and enable the optimal use of our services. Whether targeting external or internal audiences, large or small gatherings, and in-person, virtual, or hybrid events, we’ve done it all.
But the onset of the pandemic over a year ago immediately changed how we run SAP events. Almost overnight, every event had to become virtual.
As all parts of SAP rushed to shift their events to a virtual-only format, we observed inconsistent user experiences, overly complicated technology architecture, and unproven infrastructure. And in return, we often missed new business opportunities, realized weak site performance, and increased the risk of data privacy infringement.
More importantly, a poor virtual event experience hurts not only event outcomes, but also negatively impacts our brand as a software company. And the reason is simple: event participants associate their digital experience at an SAP event to our products, solutions, and services. For the SAP Executive Board, this threat to our brand and to the business was easily recognized.
In short order, the Events Platforms & Services team at SAP was born in March 2020. Our mission is to provide strategic guidance, services, and governance around digital events to drive a consistent, innovative, and fully integrated technological environment. From our perspective, every virtual event must be delightful, relevant, and engaging to anyone doing business with SAP – advancing the SAP brand and increasing business results.
Refining our services and engagement models
To flawlessly deliver the wide range of virtual events hosted at SAP, we work in unison with the Global Marketing Events team by following the 2021 Global Event Strategy and SAP event framework. Additionally, through an Event Support Form, we connect with all parts of the organization and offer best practices and guidance on the best technology options to execute their events.
In essence, the Events Platform & Services team delivers virtual events to the business through three engagement models:
- Full service. A dedicated, hands-on focus is given to the success of our global and regional flagship events (such as SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP TechEd, and partner summits) and internal key events (for example, SAP x-KOM events). These events target our core audiences and typically require a sophisticated user experience that includes role-based registration, versatile interactivity tools, extensive content, and complex agendas.
- Self service. Regional and market unit organizations can host small or medium-size audience events that present simple agendas and short planning cycles. The SAP Event/Webinar Platform features self-publishing capabilities, GDPR-compliant registration, automated lead routing, localized templates, and data integration with the SAP Analytics Cloud solution, as well as integration with SAP Event OnSite (our physical events check-in tool). We forecast 4,000 self-service events to be powered by this service annually.
- Broadcast technologies. Through a concierge-style service, broadcast technologies support all lines of business in all geographies with streaming and video production capabilities, ranging from global all-hands meetings to employee engagement sessions. This offering includes a world-class broadcasting platform to deliver a comprehensive and interactive streaming experience and supports the knowledge and capabilities to leverage any streaming platform and social media channel. Video production services are hosted by our two broadcast studios in Waldorf (Germany) and Newtown Square (Pennsylvania, USA) and supplemented by regional resources and a network of preferred vendors. Broadcast technologies power more than 800 broadcasts a year.
Innovating user experiences to make SAP stand out with a true impact
After spending a full year learning how to scale and ensure technical stability for SAP virtual events, our focus is now directed toward designing, delivering, and syndicating innovative experiences. We aim to cut through content saturation and online fatigue to deliver greater value to attendees and impact SAP truly meaningful ways.
We hope you are among the many tens of thousands of people from more than 100 countries experiencing SAPPHIRE NOW. Our premier annual conference is the ultimate example of how innovation and attended engagement can be achieved through a powerful virtual event experience. We hope you are enjoying it, and we welcome your feedback and suggestions.