cplace Insights
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cplace Insights

DIGI CON 2020 – A new format was born

How we made our first-ever virtual customer event happen

The cplace DIGITAL CONFERENCE is our most successful event format ever — and we are aiming even higher for cplace DIGI CON 2021! And all this despite the fact that DIGI CON was our very first major digital conference.

We’ll bring you along to see how the format was originally born and we’ll share which roadblocks and hurdles we had to get around to make all of this happen and what we want to change up this year.

Early 2020: Will there be a cplace Day 2020?

Many companies have their yearly signature events that everyone is looking forward to. This also applies to our biggest event of the year — cplace Day. At collaboration Factory, we work diligently towards this day at the end of each year. Every single employee, partner, and customer is looking forward to it. Numerous members of our community and stakeholders meet for an exchange to see various presentations about all things around cplace in Munich. The highlights for the visitors are not only the updates about the product, but also a look behind the scenes of collaboration Factory. They look forward to connecting with the team behind one of the most successful project management software products of recent years. Also, the direct exchange with our customers and partners on this day is valuable for us — to get fresh insights into our customer’s projects and to get to know the faces to the many names. A day full of important news and fun.

The shock at the beginning of March 2020 was huge, when the first Covid-19 cases were registered here in Germany. At first, we still hoped that normality would have returned by October, but we quickly realized that our beloved cplace Day probably could not take place as usual. A solution had to be found quickly, and there were only two options: Cancel the event altogether or set everything up online.

“For us, collaboration and proximity to our customers and partners is particularly important. This includes, above all, networking and working together in our community. Our cplace Day brings the community together and promotes the exchange of experiences and a look beyond the horizon, providing inspiration. Therefore, cancelling was not an option.” — Andrea Kern, Head of Marketing at collaboration Factory AG

DIGI CON 2020- Our first digital conference — A new format was born

As great as the joy of anticipation was in the beginning, we also faced a number of questions and challenges. None of our #bestteam had any previous experience with large online events, so we had to start from scratch.

Looking at similar events seemed helpful to us. We were able to get a first impression of how other event providers handled those challenges. But again, we quickly realized that we wanted to do things differently than what we had seen before. Most of the events were interesting, but the viewers didn’t have the feeling of being involved and were forced to just consume the content like sitting in a lecture at university. No matter how exciting the content was, it didn’t work to simply broadcast hour-long presentations digitally.

“We didn’t really see our approach of community and togetherness in any of these events, because they often tried to bring the on-site format into a digital form, which does not work. The digital format requires high quality, best technology, special speaker training and a different way of preparing the content: Short, informative, and entertaining.” — Andrea Kern, Head of Marketing at collaboration Factory AG.

When it came to finding the right tool for our event, we were probably facing the most important question: How do we integrate and entertain our viewers? How do we make sure it’s not just another boring online event, but one that creates excitement? How do we bring the cplace Day spirit into a digital format? Characterized by sharing and getting to know the team behind cplace?

We were able to try our luck with Zoom when we had a first virtual partner event in July. During this event, we realized that the standard features of the program were not sufficient for us, even for a small event. How could this work for a large event with estimated 500 participants? In our eyes, Zoom could not meet our expectations. Therefore, it was not an option to use this platform for DIGI CON.

After many hours of research, we did not find a provider that matched our expectations. Zoom and other tools are pushed to their limits through large events. The event software solutions did not live up to our claim as a modern software provider, who attaches great importance to a modern digital environment and corresponding UX, and to branding that has to be visually appealing.

Shortly after, two of our ambitious and passionate employees from our strong dev team took the project in hand. Thus, in collaboration with our factory, the streaming platform Hypercon was created, which met all our wishes and requirements. Live streaming of presentations, a chat function, and different breakout sessions found their place on our event page. After we reached this big milestone in our planning, we started to work on the content of our DIGI CON 2020. Since this was a completely new format to us, some important questions came up here:

  • How do we manage to keep all of the information short and compact to not overload the participants and strain their attention?
  • How do we show our values and personalities and are approachable and inviting?
  • How do we convey our spirit in a digital format?
  • How do we engage with our customers and partners through different presentations?
  • How do we make DIGI CON 2020 come alive and make the participants enjoy being part of the event, getting involved and having fun?

Solutions to all these questions and many more had to be found over the summer months, and in the end, we managed to solve them together as #bestteam. From the beginning, it was clear that we wanted to send our participants a small ‘care package’. The idea was to create a sense of community when every participant enjoys the same coffee from our cup. And also, to increase anticipation and to get a piece of DIGI CON.

We gave our team members the chance to show their skills during the breaks and at the beginning of the event. They submitted various clips, ranging from baking cake with our CEO Rupert Stuffer to music, to sports activities, which made the breaks sweeter for our viewers and, on top of that, introduced the team behind cplace.

But we also provided a humorous variety of content-related contributions. The challenge was to keep the presentations short and to put everything important in there. We packed cplace updates into short and funny product clips that put a smile on the viewers’ faces. In addition, they were able to assemble their own individual agenda by choosing between different presentations in parallel breakout sessions.

A few weeks before the big day, the Corona cases in Germany kept rising sharply. Therefore, we decided to no longer bring all speakers to the location in person, but to spontaneously record some videos in advance. Thus, the number of people on site could be reduced to those responsible for the necessary live stream content. However, we had to find a spontaneous solution to record presentations. Also, our support team and the chat moderators were not live on-site at the event location. They were outsourced to our office spaces, where they could do their jobs following a strict hygienic protocol. At the event location, everyone had to strictly follow the guidelines, too. So, in the final sprint, there was a lot of rescheduling and a lot of uncertainty regarding the Covid-19 rules that kept changing.

This spontaneous change of plans, however, also had a positive aspect for us. The live event itself was easier to coordinate because of the large number of recordings.

During our online event, all presentations were recorded and made available afterwards. We saw this as a big advantage compared to our cplace Day, as we now have many hours of live footage that are still available after the event is long gone. A ‘Content Hub’ set up before the event with all these recordings was so well received by our users afterwards that we made it available online for longer than we had planned originally. Even now, website visitors can still have a look at some of our event videos. Selected presentations can be found on our website at our resources.

An event can’t always run perfectly, so there were some little things that we would have liked to see differently. In the Open Round at the end of the planned framework program we wished for more discussion, as it is always gratefully accepted at our cplace Day. Unlimited exchange and networking are what make our event special. But networking online via new tools and formats is something that participants have to get used to.

Despite this, the audience gave us very positive feedback — not only in their chat messages during the event, but also afterwards in various personal messages — and in the end that’s what really counts. Perhaps we were able to convince one or two skeptics of the online format with our DIGI CON 2020.

“Guys that was really a sight to behold…thank you for the nice afternoon!!!”

“In my opinion, this is better than the live on-site appointment. The spirit and connection are just there. I saved myself 8 hours of travel in addition”

After DIGI CON is before DIGI CON

There are points that we learned from our first online event and will do differently next time. Any event and any presentation benefit from the quality of the speakers. But are there any differences between digital events and live events for them? A very common question! How the speakers move during their presentation has a different effect when they are on camera. There is no audience to get direct feedback from, for example, whether a joke hit home or not. And constant eye contact with the right camera is often the biggest challenge for newcomers. All these points can only be improved through practice, so it is important to prepare speakers very well. They will get more and more used to the digital format over time.

But it’s not just the moderators and speakers who have to get used to the new format; the participants also will catch up. We saw online networking in particular as a major weak point at DIGI CON 2020. It is difficult to achieve the desired networking spirit in a digital format. And this is the biggest question we take away when the planning next digital events: How can we create even more interaction and networking for such a large number of participants?

The benchmark for our other digital event formats was set high. Because one thing is certain: DIGI CON 2020 was just the beginning and a new event series was born.

This format gives us the opportunity to bring many more experts together from around the world for a special day all about project management. The months of hard work paid off in the end and we look back on it with pride and a smile on our faces.

And one thing is clear: We will have another DIGI CON in 2021.

No travel, hop-in and hop-off to individual sessions, content that can be used at any time, even after the event. We will continue to use all these advantages and many more to bring our community together, for events in times when we cannot be together in person.

“We are looking forward to the next cplace Day and to meeting our community up close again. Because networking and personal contact are not the same online and will never be. So, in the future, we will focus on two different formats — and who knows if and when we will dare to take on the hybrid challenge.” — Andrea Kern, Head of Marketing at collaboration Factory AG

Have you missed DIGI CON 2020 and want to learn more about it? Then take a look at our Behind the Scenes video (The Making of cplace DIGI CON 2020) to get impressions of the making of and see how much heart and soul we put into our events. And if you like what you see and want to be a part of it, then join us at DIGI CON 2021. Just subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date and save your early bird ticket here. We are looking forward to seeing you!

Written by Tina Nagler, Junior Marketing Managerin at collaboration Factory AG.

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collaboration Factory AG

collaboration Factory AG

collaboration Factory AG is the company behind cplace, and helps companies to successfully manage complex business processes.

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