This post is one in a series where SageCircle pulls out the crystal ball and looks ahead to what happens in the analyst ecosystem in 2010. See below for links to all posts in this series.
2009 saw a few early instances of vendor analyst relations (AR) teams using virtual meetings (see note 1) to eliminate or supplement traditional face-to-face analyst summits. Virtual meetings offer a number of benefits such as reduced costs, broader participation by analysts and company staff, greater selection of content, a record of proceedings, and a smaller carbon footprint – the last being at a minimum a PR benefit.
As to be expected this early in the adoption of a new technology or technique, things did not always go smoothly with some analysts complaining publicly on social media like Twitter about balky technology, lack of private meetings, no face-to-face schmooze time, and so on. Ironically, some of the complainers were analysts who cover green technology issues and normally espouse the use of telepresence and other technologies for reducing environmental impacts.
SageCircle’s prediction is that 2010 will see a dramatic increase in the use of virtual meetings even if the glitches embarrass and analysts complain. The benefits, especially reduced costs, are too good to pass up. Unfortunately, the number of AR teams with experience with virtual meetings is small and most events will certainly have problems that will lead to dissatisfaction in the analyst community. By 2011 the technology will have matured to the point that, coupled with increased AR experience, virtual meetings will become a satisfactory way to contract analyst summits.
Note 1: In this context, we are defining virtual meetings as more than simple teleconferencing or videoconferencing. The virtual meeting functionality envisioned in this context is typically web-based, but could also include software installed on a vendor’s servers. The conferencing functionality could include some or all of the following: document sharing, real-time interaction, simultaneous audio conferencing, mobile connectivity, high-definition telepresence (e.g., HP Halo or Cisco Telepresence), private rooms, archiving, and other features that make the virtual meeting feel like its face-to-face counterparts.
- AR teams should check with colleagues in marketing and events to determine what existing technology is available
- AR teams should plan on holding at least one virtual meeting in 2010, even a small one, in order to start building the skills needed to add regular virtual meetings to their interaction mix
- Analysts need to communicate their experiences about what does or does not work with virtual meetings to AR teams who are planning such events. It is in the analysts best interest to raise/create best practices for virtual events
- Analysts should also communicate this information to SageCircle who can disseminate this information broadly and quickly across the AR community
- AR teams that conduct virtual meetings should incorporate a formal step in the plan to debrief participants and document what did/did not work in order to capture learnings as institutional knowledge
- SageCircle can assist AR teams with debriefing and documentation tips
Bottom Line: Even though there will be a steep and sometimes painful learning curve for virtual meetings, AR teams should invest in this new form interaction in 2010 to be ready when the technology matures.
Question: AR – Have you tried virtual meetings? Analysts – Have you attended AR virtual meetings? If so, what insights can you share?
Looking ahead to 2010 Series
- Analyst Market…
- Social Media…
- Analyst relations…