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What is an online conference?
An online conference is a processional conference streamed online. They usually cover various subject matters such as Marketing. They will then go into more depth with workshops and programmes based on topics such as ‘Influencer Marketing’ and ‘Chatbots’.
Online conferences are the same as traditional ‘in person’ conferences in that they aim to educate and inspire with all the programmes that they deliver. Online conferences deliver educational sessions, panel discussions as well as interviews, much like regular conferences.
Why are online conferences becoming more popular?
In this day and age, it is becoming increasingly popular to ‘go digital’. People are leading ever increasingly busy lives, yet still wanting to further their education and career growth. With time restrictions, people are becoming more interested in accessing online content which can work around their current work schedules and other commitments.
In addition, as the work force becomes more digital, more people are deciding to ‘work from home’, as a means to be more productive in their own work environment, as well as cut down on additional travel expenses.
Moreover, in light of recent events in 2020 such as the global epidemic health crisis ‘Coronavirus’, people are now trying to find ways to combat the lock-down in which you may have to spend weeks or even months without leaving their homes. Online events, webinars and online conferences are therefore the best solution to still carry on with education and work events without having to leave your home.
Are there any disadvantages of online conferences?
Of course, there are a few disadvantages to online conferences. The main one being the lack of networking opportunities. With online conferences, you will not have the chance to speak with other professional’s in your industry. In addition, another disadvantage is that there is no social interaction with the other online conference attendees. With traditional conferences, you will usually get time to network and socialise during coffee breaks or lunch breaks, however, with an online conference, you will not get the chance to do this.
On the other hand, online conferences are becoming increasingly popular because they have many advantages which we will explore in more detail below.
The advantages of online conferences
  • Convenience With online conferences, you can attend these educational sessions from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere, as long as you have internet connection with either a computer, laptop or smartphone.
  • Cost effective – Usually the cost of an online conference will be cheaper than a traditional ‘in person’ conference. You will also be able to save money on travel to and from the venue, as well as other expenses spared such as hotel accommodation and food.
  • Accessible – Typically, when you sign up to an online conference, you will be able to access some online resources after the online conference, for example the PowerPoint slides that were provided with the sessions. Some companies such as Forward Leading also offer a digital subscription whereby you can sign up for more online content for instance recordings of Past global summits in Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong and Jakarta. 
  • Exploring multiple sessions – Occasionally when you go to traditional conferences, they may hold different sessions in different rooms, therefore you cannot logistically go to both at once. However, with online conferences, you can sometimes have the option to purchase access to all sessions, therefore you can view all of these sessions according to your own schedule. 
  • Dress code – With traditional conferences, you will typically have to dress smart and keep up appearances, whereas with online conferences, no one can see you behind the screen, therefore you can wear whatever you feel like wearing. Want to feel more comfortable, want to wear a tracksuit and a tshirt? No problem!  
  • Global events – Online events can be accessible to anyone around the globe and therefore they can host a much larger group of attendees compared to traditional conferences.
Online conferences vs. traditional conferences to tackle ‘Coronavirus’
In light of the current Coronavirus outbreak around the globe, the World Health Organisation and local governments are putting bans on large gatherings and events. Therefore, to tackle this, event organisers must establish a new way to host conferences.
The perfect solution is to host these conferences online. These conferences of the future are being reimagined so that these events can still go ahead. Several major firms such as Adobe and Microsoft have had to cancel and change their plans for their events amid the coronavirus outbreak.
One of the companies that decided to make big changes to their events was IBM. Their conference ‘Think 2020’ has been transformed into an online event. Rather than cancelling this event completely, they have decided to turn this into a digital event with live streaming of presentation and interactive sessions, which will highlight the company’s expertise without clients having to risk exposure to the Coronavirus.
Edward Barbini, Vice President of Corporate Communications at IBM states “the reaction has been supportive and positive. They know we have made the health of our employees, partners and clients our primary concern.” He also said “This could be a path towards more digital-first events. We are optimistic this will be a success for our clients and developers”.
Moreover, it is so important to find alternative solutions to cancelling events and conferences entirely. These conferences are really important to aid in learning and development, as well as exchanging of ideas and best practices.
Will Townsend, a senior tech analyst from ‘Moor Insights and Strategy’ says, “Maybe 2020 will be the year where video collaboration really takes off”. This could be a game-changer for video conferencing and online collaborations tool companies such as Cisco Webex, Zoom Video Communication, Lifesize, Bluejeans and Fuze.
It is clear that certain functions of conferences can easily be moved online for example, keynote speakers, presentations, Q&A’s and even various tracks focused on teaching specific skills. Some say that mega events with thousands of attendees at traditional conferences can be impersonal, so moving an event online can be a more personal and direct experience.
Forward Leading Online Summits
In light of the current Coronavirus epidemic, Forward Leading has taken the opportunity to host our next summit, June's Forward Marketing Summit Singapore, online! We are excited to announce that our upcoming event has gone virtual. To learn more about this online event, please click here. We look forward to welcoming you!
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