The sudden restrictions on travel and large in-person gatherings resulting from the pandemic have forced companies worldwide to rethink their event strategy to focus on virtual meetings. And Ingram Micro is no exception.
Every year in the fall, we hold our annual ONE event, which is among the most anticipated and well-attended events in the technology industry. Versions of the event are held in each of the geographic regions in which Ingram Micro does business (North America, Latin America, Europe/Middle East and Asia Pacific). The goal is to showcase how solution provider partners can work with Ingram Micro’s experts and resources to stand apart from the competition, to maximize their service opportunities and close deals more quickly—all while imagining what’s next for their business.
Addressing the challenges
Converting the in-person ONE event into a virtual format presented considerable logistic and programming challenges—uncharted territory for our company’s event team—especially since these challenges had to be addressed within a relatively short period of time. Planning for the ONE event usually starts a year in advance, but the new circumstances required the revamping to be done in six months and changes to standard expectations for deadlines and production. Since demand for virtual events in the pandemic was stronger than supply, however, many virtual event companies were at maximum bandwidth and couldn’t take on new clients, which meant available outsourcing partners were extremely limited.
Fortunately, at the last minute, Ingram Micro was able to turn to our long-time exhibits supplier, Freeman, who developed a new digital platform
to facilitate implementation.
Given the time limitations and the high priority of the event, Ingram Micro took an “all hands on deck” approach—mobilizing key associates companywide and drawing from multiple departments and regions worldwide, including events, marketing, Agency Ingram Micro, and the digital and executive teams.
The thinking behind the planning
Through research, brainstorming and extensive dialog, those involved in planning the event came to several key realizations:
- In-person events can’t be translated into a virtual format—they have to be reimagined.
- We had to change our mindset from planning an “event” to creating an “experience,” because that’s how we ultimately wanted attendees to consider it. This required a paradigm shift—thinking of attendees as “guests” and viewing the format and content through the lens of hospitality—and changing the focus away from IT and technology platforms to infotainment.
- Participants in virtual events are often doing something else at the same time. Since it was critical to “own the distraction,” entertainment became a key component. To “facilitate the distraction” the planning included the coordination of musical performances and an on-demand global game of Pong.
- The virtual format allowed us to pool resources and turn four regional events into one global experience. Of course, this required us to consider multiple time zones, cultures and languages in our planning in order to deliver an experience that would be relevant and valuable for everyone.
The implementation game plan
The ONE team held ongoing meetings to brainstorm the format and content and develop a game plan for implementation. This included:
- Ongoing email, social media campaigns and other digital content and PR efforts to hype awareness of the event and the new virtual format, as well as to promote registration.
- Recruitment of high-powered speakers and entertainment acts to position the virtual ONE as a unique, must-attend event—and offer an agenda that went beyond technology-related presentations.
- Video production of the majority of “event presentations” in advance.
- Developing an online format called Innovation in Action to bring our story to life.
The companywide effort to reimagine the 2020 ONE
Experience was a success on many fronts. As we will showcase in a follow-up to this article, attendance was strong and the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. More importantly, the process of reimagining the event to meet the demands of the moment has transformed our thinking about what events can and should be, not to mention Ingram Micro’s event strategy moving forward.
Watch for part II of the ONE story coming soon. To see content from the event, visit ingrammicro.com/one