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Digital experience hub as an innovative event and communication platform

In the future, digital formats will continue to reduce the importance of in-person events such as trade fairs and conferences: business meetings and gatherings are changing format and taking place online. A great number of tools and options are available to companies for this, so not only is there a lack of transparency, but also it isn’t always possible to control the crucial engagement of participants. A digital experience hub can solve the problem holistically – as a digital communication platform that meets all stakeholders wherever they are.

Proven analogue formats such as trade fairs and customer appointments on site are still only possible with restrictions or as hybrid events. It is becoming apparent that digital solutions will continue to gain relevance in future as a replacement for and extension to analogue formats. Sophisticated technologies enable the hosting of virtual events and offer a variety of options for interacting with participants. According to a survey of marketing managers by BITKOM*, purely on-site events will only be relevant for 39% of companies in the future.

The key challenges for digital events

During a pandemic, direct communication with customers and business partners is more important than ever before. As a result, companies are asking themselves how they can reach and involve important stakeholders in the midst of contact restrictions and travel bans. Although the trend is clear, virtual events as an alternative to in-person events are still uncharted territory for many. Two central pain points are the current competitive pressure and the absolutely essential attendee engagement.

There is now an oversupply of digital events: webcasts, virtual workshops, trade fairs, conferences and much more. Competition is fierce and companies need to stand out from the crowd in order to actually reach their target audiences. This can only be accomplished if they develop an understanding of the profile of their desired participants and are clear about the needs of their target groups. Each group of interested parties and (potential) customers pursues different goals and seeks appropriate content. In order to be able to meet individual needs, technological support is required. The right technology helps to generate new data and to create full participant profiles with existing data and metrics. Through the efficient use of data and methodical approaches like surveys and A/B testing, differentiation can be achieved through personalisation: for interest-based content, for invitations to events based on user behaviour, or for incentives such as bring-a-colleague features.

Minimise bounce rates using modern technology

Overall, an intuitive user journey is important: The preparation and implementation of digital, hybrid and in-person events is extremely labour intensive and time consuming. If the participants fail to be engaged and active during the event, the result is extremely sobering.

Content should therefore be prepared and made available in a way that makes the search and click path as easy as possible. For example, intuitive user journeys can be determined by using methods like eye tracking. Here, too, a precise definition of the target group, and therefore a targeted personalisation of the products, can help to keep the no-show and bounce rates low during the event. Ultimately, users are only shown content that is relevant to them.

The digital experience hub as an interactive platform

The challenge now is to present an event professionally for various interest groups. The answer to this is not another typical or on-demand format to which companies and employees find several invitations in their in-boxes every day and which end up in the bin just as quickly. On the contrary, the solution is an interactive platform which is not simply used once for an event. Rather it represents an online meeting point that promises greater reach, more leads, increased control, better insights and additional digital interaction with all stakeholders. Within a few months, so-called digital experience hubs can be developed and launched as sustainable platforms with the help of appropriate technology and experts.

Graphic representation of the Digital Experience Hub

User experience and multimedia content are key

At the centre of the digital experience hub are various formats such as broadcasting, content, interaction and communication. They are available to all desired target groups such as the press, business partners, users and customers – via various channels including the web, mobile and social media. The digital experience hub is not just a temporary replacement for in-person events, but a long-term solution that offers all relevant stakeholders added value – continuing beyond the events themselves.

Companies can host both live and on-demand events and make various content available on a one-off or long-term basis. The platform is therefore not a one-hit wonder for an event but rather scalable in all digital areas. Possible formats include breakout sessions, keynotes, interviews, demos and panel discussions, which means not only extrovert visitors can be offered an exceptional online experience with personalised content, but also introverts, who may not proactively request any information at in-person events, can communicate comfortably with the company.

The platform can also be used for internal purposes, such as employee events and/or training. A digital experience hub can be designed according to your specifications and expanded as required. The possibilities are almost endless.

Outlook for the events industry

Events, lectures, shared networks and industry discussions will not disappear – business and personal conversations with customers, partners and interested parties are too important. Companies are currently using easily interchangeable live or on-demand solutions for this, with unsatisfactory results. The much more appealing and competitive alternative is a digital experience hub, which reduces bounce rates whilst increasing crucial engagement rates.

Such a hub is not just a substitute for in-person events, but a sustainable and versatile alternative. It enables lively interaction and offers products tailored to the needs of the target groups and therefore real added value.

*BITKOM (German Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media) (2020): https://www.bitkom.org/Presse/Presseinformation/Die-Messen-und-Events-der-Zukunft-sind-auch-digital

Author Mona Eckstein

Alliance Manager
ecx.io, part of IBM iX

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