IBM Think: How AI could make big virtual events better than in-person alternatives


Disclosure: Most of the vendors mentioned are clients of the author.

IBM Think, the firm’s iconic (and now-digital) annual customer event, took place this week and I was again reminded how firms like IBM with internal video competence and studios do these things better than those without. Everyone was rehearsed, even the top execs; the staging was TV-show quality, camera angles and sound conveyed a sense of competence.  The impression of competence from an event does seem to transfer to a company’s brand, positively affecting sales prospects and valuation. 

IBM spoke about two artifical intelliegnce (AI) initiatives that could address a recurring problem with these events, which has to do with personal engagement and optimizing a plan.  And it could help to drive people to content, both during and after the event, that isn’t happening now.

The initiatives are related to conversational AI and the Watson Assistant

The two large-event problems

There have been great demonstrations from firms like Nvidia using its graphics capability to construct and then deconstruct the stage for a CEO keynote, Dell showcasing a breadth of sessions on broad issues like work/life balance, and Microsoft and IBM using high-quality internal resources to produce an event. But there are also unsolved problems. 

The two problems that seem to recur are individual engagement, where people feel someone at the company cares about what they think, and agenda-setting. And, except for Nvidia’s event, there’s been a distinct lack of solutions. 

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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