Cisco Systems, the San Jose, Calif.–based technology giant, has announced plans to market its suite of collaborative communications tools to the events industry.
After several years of using its technologies to expand the reach and reduce costs at its own conferences, Cisco is packaging a collection of existing products under the title Collaboration for Events. These include its Cisco TelePresence high-definition videoconferencing system; Cisco WebEx, which offers a variety of Web conferencing applications; Cisco Show and Share, a system for creating and distributing videos in a secure business environment; interactive digital signage; and Cisco’s video surveillance technology, which can give event organizers oversight of traffic flow.
At a Collaboration for Events briefing, Cisco’s Rick Hutley, vice president, Internet Business Solutions Group, explained the factors he believes are making event technologies critically important, in particular the increased globalization of business and the high cost of face-to-face events coupled with an economic downturn. These pressures, he said, “create an increased need to get together and share ideas, and yet the cost prohibits us from doing it in the traditional way.” Hutley also pointed to the rising expectations of attendees. “Historically, events were a point in time,” he said, but today, attendees and stakeholders expect the experience to extend before and after a live event.
At the briefing, Cisco customer P.J. Boatwright, vice president of events at Fortune magazine, spoke about adopting Cisco solutions to extend the reach of its Brainstorm: Green event this past April. While the live event in Laguna Niguel, Calif., was an invitation-only conference that had limited potential for increasing sponsorship or raising registration fees, he said a digital strategy was a chance to grow. Organizers attracted 1,000 online attendees to view the free broadcast of plenary sessions and also allowed the online audience to ask questions of the speakers. Fortune will continue expand its relationship with Cisco for its Brainstorm: Tech conference July 22-24.
Hutley calls Cisco’s Collaboration for Events business “embryonic” at this point but predicts rapid growth. “Once we show the world there’s a new way of running events, it will take off very fast,” he said.
Cisco says it expects to expand its sales channel beyond its existing resellers who are trained to sell its collaboration products. “At this time,” according to a spokesperson, “Cisco is already working with several event companies to integrate Cisco Collaboration technologies as strategic assets in their portfolio of event solutions/services they offer to their clients. We expect to announce these relationships publicly in the near future.”