For two decades, Accenture has published an annual Technology Vision Report on the top technology trends that will impact business and IT leaders in the coming years. For many years as part of the global launch, Accenture has hosted several VIP client events around the world. In 2020, the launch events came up against the ultimate disrupter: Covid-19.
If Tech Vision events were going to take place in 2021, they would clearly have to be virtual.
Accenture didn’t want the launch event to feel like a typical virtual meeting. The goal was to make it feel both interesting and engaging —as innovative and exciting as the technology trends that would be discussed.
The challenge Accenture put before Touchcast was as thrilling as it was daunting: to create a global, virtual launch event that offered the global accessibility, high-end production values, and the analytics possible with a virtual event married with the real-time vitality, buzz, and connectivity of an in-person event. In essence, to bridge the physical and virtual worlds.
They didn’t want the Tech Vision launch event simply to share the possibilities of emerging tech —they wanted their clients to experience it. One thing apparent to the Accenture and Touchcast teams from the start was that they couldn’t merely move the Tech Vision event of years past online. To go virtual, they had to rethink the event from the ground up.
The first thing Accenture did was streamline the event program. Rather than an in-person event that provides an opportunity for networking and time to experience a demo showcase, they wanted to create a very tight hour of must-watch programming that would keep everyone engaged.
They also didn’t want the event to feel pre-recorded and inauthentic. Accenture wanted the audience to feel like they were immersed in a live event. It needed to be extremely sharp and well-produced like all Accenture events, but also have the spark that comes only from real-time experiences.
“Touchcast strongly recommended that the entire event should be pre-recorded to reduce the risk of a technical glitch,” says Katy Ahern, Accenture’s lead for technology innovation marketing and communications. “But we wanted our attendees to experience a live event with interactive discussions and Q&A."
“The Touchcast technology was flawless, and the platform provided us with the flexibility to have a keynote presentation and interactive, live panel discussions."
The Accenture and Touchcast teams decided on a hybrid approach. The keynote, intros, and outros would be pre-recorded so they could be edited and finely polished. And the panel discussions would be live with the speakers beamed in from their home offices.
Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s group chief executive - technology & chief technology officer, recorded his keynote speech in front of a full-body green screen so that he could walk across the virtual stage and simulate being on a real stage. Touchcast worked closely with the panelists to prepare them for the live discussions and onboard them from their home offices around the globe.
“We were very pleased with the live portions of the event. The platform offers flexibility so we could easily change the format to look like a live panel discussion similar to a news channel on TV."
What blended both the pre-recorded and live experiences together was the branding and design, which gave the event, along with its website, a seamless, polished, and cohesive feel. The virtual stage, design element, and every aspect of the platform had to feel part of the Tech Vision experience and align with Accenture’s brand.
“I felt like we were really working with the best of the best,” says Kelcie Des Jardins, who managed the event production for Touchcast. “There was this idea of the event being both ephemeral but also something that would live on.”
The event brought together attendees from 45 countries, who listened and watched in multiple languages, all translated by artificial intelligence in real time, with over 1,300 poll interactions on event day. Even more telling was the positive feedback elicited both internally and from clients who were taken back by how immersive and transportive the event was.
For Ahern, the Tech Vision launch event offered many opportunities to learn on how to plan for future virtual events; namely that you don’t need to be in person to have a big event where attendees feel like they’re in a professional, interactive environment. The Tech Vision 2021 launch event also offered inspiration for how to continue iterating and pushing the boundaries between physical and virtual worlds.
“We're really excited about working with Touchcast because the platform provides us the opportunity to creatively engage with our audience."
The big question is then: Where does this bridge between physical and virtual worlds lead next?