In the early days of virtual events (i.e. a few years ago), we used to say that users could attend a virtual event “from anywhere.” Of course, that wasn’t entirely true, as “anywhere” usually meant at a location with “fixed” (vs. roaming) Internet connectivity and “chained” to a desktop or laptop on a desk.
Tablet devices are quickly becoming pervasive and I believe (as do the analysts) that they’ll come to dominate the enterprise in short order. Many of the emails I receive (at work) these days are stamped with “Sent from my iPad” or “Sent from my Android device”.
The Power of the Tablet
In the enterprise, we may very well be experiencing the last cycle for desktops and laptops. When the tenure of your current laptop “expires,” your IT Department may be moving you to a tablet device, such as the iPad, or one of the many Android-based tablets. These tablets come packed with a number of key features:
- A form factor that further enables mobility
- A form factor that encourages simultaneous, “multi person” use
- Location awareness
- Pervasive connectivity, via 3G (and other) networks
What This Means for Virtual Events
For virtual events, this truly means that one can attend “from anywhere” – on the treadmill at the gym, walking along a sandy beach or sitting on your train commute into the city. Mobile access to virtual events mean added convenience for attendees – and, potentially higher ROI for event organizers and exhibitors.
Why? Because mobile can create higher attendance rates. And, exhibitors can now staff their booth and engage with visitors from anywhere. In fact, at a hybrid event, a marketer can staff her physical booth, walk down the show floor (with tablet in hand) and staff the virtual booth at the same time!
As more users attend virtual events from tablets, expect to see innovation in how events leverage users’ location data (when users opt in to share that information, of course). Ever enter a virtual event’s Networking Lounge and observe how users are asking where everyone else is from?
Now, imagine a Google Map that shows where all virtual attendees are located geographically. In addition, imagine hybrid events, where on-site attendees could use a tablet application to show virtual attendees where (on the show floor) they happen to be.
In the video below, my INXPO colleague John Leahy shows how you can attend a virtual trade show from the iPad.