Cisco Live Networkers: A Hybrid Approach

Last week Cisco Live Networkers took place in San Francisco. Cisco opted for a hybrid event approach; meaning a combination of a “live” event with a “virtual” component.

At the live event, content and interactivity are the keywords; keynote sessions, breakout sessions, expo area, ask-the expert sessions, hands-on labs, instructor-led labs, certification testing , social activities etc. “Knowledge is Power” is a well chosen tagline.

The virtual component – I intentionally write “component” – is not replacing the actual physical event. It is offering an alternative to people. I also see it as an extension where Cisco tries to bridge the gap between offline and online attendees to offer a full event experience beyond the actual live event dates in order to link people with the Cisco brand and products.

The live attendees get full access to the virtual component as an additional benefit, while premier subscribers of the online event get a 2 day full fledged virtual event and access to all sessions and content post event (same package as live attendees) and finally there is a guest entry to the online experience for free (you can see some content).

I clearly see value in these type of leveled offerings in order to reach more people and scale the content. It can help pay the platform investment while reaching more people.

The virtual component is built on the InXpo platform. It is the most extensive hybrid event I have seen so far. It is not just having taped content sessions, a resource centre, an expo area and a lounge area (the 4 traditional components of a live event). This one has more elements; a media and analysts area, links with social media to improve interactivity, blog center, a prize centre, a scavenger hunt. Some of these features can be categorized under one of the four traditional ones.

Most elements are an online representation of the live event component. From earlier posts you know that I am not convinced this is the holy grail in virtual event conferences. Though Cisco in this case adds Web 2.0 features and brings in the social media aspects. The virtual experience is a “website” on its own, where Cisco is playing in the Web 2.0 space.

I am quite sure a lot of work and thinking has gone into setting up and building the “experience”. How do you measure the return on investment in this case; the number of online premier subscribers, the number of guest subscribers, how many can you convert into the higher offering, how long do they stay online, how many interactions, feeding the pipeline, knowledge transfer, brand and product awareness etc.

Interesting. Evolution.


3 Responses to “Cisco Live Networkers: A Hybrid Approach”

  1. 1 Dennis Shiao July 7, 2009 at 06:22

    Hi Gerd – I attended Cisco Live on-site and participated in the concurrent virtual event from the physical event (I’m with InXpo). I shared some observations on how physical and virtual events are converging:

  2. 2 Lakshman Vijay July 8, 2009 at 16:10

    I am amazed by the first time virtual event with Cisco Live and it’s integration with the Live event. I was able to watch the 2 important Keynote sessions live on my laptop. The social interaction is also good showing the people that are logged online via Cisco Virtual. It had the feeling of Facebook or Twitter with most of the web2.0 technology features.

    Suggest having Keynote sessions integrated with any popular social business networking tool like Facebook or Twitter like how they do for Mr. Obama’s speech via CNN where the users can login, watch and share comments.

    Hats off to Cisco Live Virtual….

  3. 3 Etherealmind July 8, 2009 at 16:59

    I was not very impressed by the virtual content. I had problems with browser support.

    I found the interface to be overly complicated, slow to load, slow to run and overall a frustrating experience. I could not understand what sort of value that crappy interface was supposed to add – it all seemed very marketing to me and thus useless.

    Since most of your audience is engineers, not marketing people, I would like to see much improved interface with less of the crap and more of the content. Ditch the flash, go with HTML. You have a LONG road to improvement on this topic.

    Mostly, I just wanted to download the presentations, and watch some of the video. Whan it came to watching the video, the site was unusable. I couldn’t amke any sense of it. Even finding how to download the presentations was a right pain.


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