“How I turned a 100% digital European summit in the midst of a crisis”

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Caroline est vice-présidente marketing chez Opendatasoft, entreprise qu'elle a rejointe à Boston aux Etats-Unis et travaille avec les équipes françaises et américaines de l'entreprise.

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Posted on Jan 13, 2021 6:32 PMUpdated Jan 13, 2021, 6:33 PM

“Each year, Opendatasoft organizes an event called“ Data On Board ”. The latter sees our customers, our prospects as well as our entire team meeting on the occasion of a day dedicated to the knowledge and the valuation of the data. It is a scene of expression and sharing around use cases and feedback and brings together a community of data enthusiasts.

This year, the health crisis paralyzed physical appointments and undermined many trade fairs and events. But as it was out of the question to cancel, we made the bet of an event 100% online.

From mid-June, we began discussions with management and all stakeholders in the event as well as our press agency to gauge everyone's reactions and follow the event movements of competitors. It seemed unlikely to us, given the government announcements and the end of the first lockdown in mid-May, that things would get back to normal quickly. In addition, the financial investment in this type of organization is important, there was no question of taking such a risk. So we had to be creative.

Many questions animated our meetings: how to transpose this major event online? Do we keep the event for a day or a half-day? Which platform to choose? They forced me out of my comfort zone.

Chat, polls, animations …

Such a transformation cannot be improvised. The challenge ? Find a new way to animate while preserving its quality. Above all, I wanted to avoid making an information consumption event with a simple series of conferences. Nothing (or almost) has been pre-recorded to make room for the strength of the live. We have therefore set up a “main stage”, thematic sessions and a networking space.

Throughout the day, the Opendatasoft teams were mobilized to host networking rooms that participants could join at any time in order to ask their questions and continue the discussion after each conference. A chat was also available throughout the day where participants could exchange messages and / or call each other. Surveys and various animations were also available.

Out of 1,000 registrations, 671 people joined us, 65% of which were new contacts. The absence of geographic constraints has enabled our English clients located outside London, Canadians, Americans and even Australians to participate.

The biggest challenge was to think of a way to captivate the participants. I was afraid of losing them along the way. Attending an event all day in person and behind your computer obviously does not have the same flavor … It is for this reason that we have decided to focus on prestigious guests, to limit the moments of latency and break so as not to lose the guests along the way. The average connection rate was 4.30 hours, while the event lasted 8 hours: a success.

Towards hybrid models

Of course, we will have missed a few important aspects of the physical relationship: the face-to-face meetings with our clients and partners, the giggles in small groups during coffee breaks and the spontaneous interactions. It's not easy in an online format to connect customers with each other, make introductions and get feedback spontaneously!

However, this situation made me realize the undeniable advantages of a digital event. For the next editions, we will certainly opt for a hybrid strategy, combining digital and physical, allowing us to include all our customers: English and international. This will allow those who want to move without depriving those who cannot. “



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