At Dell Technologies, virtual events are format that has been well appreciated and more and frequently requested by our customers, both internally and externally. By leveraging the TV team originally founded by EMC to support our marketing and conference needs, we have able to provide offsite event access for tens of thousands of viewers in a highly produced environment. As our customers devices and expectations became increasingly sophisticated we grew our capabilities to match. Over the last several years, our virtual event offering has expanded from a multimedia broadcast of show floor coverage into a layered interactive multimedia experience.

Beginning with the Dell-EMC merger, announced in late 2015, my team was asked to investigate how we might expand our virtual events platform beyond a simple Brightcove broadcast into the interactive space. Traditionally our video broadcasts would see a huge traffic spike for the opening keynote of an event, followed by an almost equal drop in viewership for the rest of the program. My team was asked to propose solutions that could reduce churn and falloff over the course of hours, or even days.

Virtual Events: Product Growth Over Time

Version 1:
The “Day One” Dell-EMC Merger Celebration (2016)

The “Day One” merger of Dell and EMC was planned as a 3-hour event, which would be broadcast to 80+ countries around the world. Every major office was converted into an event celebration space. For many thousands of employees, even that was not enough for them to experience the largest tech merger in history in a personal way. For Day One my team had to deal with divergent firewall restrictions, multiple languages, an RSVP system that spanned a broader scope of address formats than is typical in even the deepest of commerce applications, and the creation of an interactive interface that could hold a remote employee’s attention for three full hours.

Objectives:

  • Increase viewer retention time
  • Facilitate global RSVP to regional office celebrations
  • Foster greater inclusion of our global audience
  • Create a social buzz around the merger

Components

  • Streaming Broadcast/Multicast
  • RSVP Application
  • Second Screen experience (interactive features but no video feed, mobile)

Wireframes

Production Screenshots

The final dashboard in action
The Event Finder (Employee Celebrations)

Version 2:
Dell EMC World (2017) – powered multiple follow-on events

The team’s next opportunity came shortly after the merger with the first co-branded Dell EMC World (DEW). As our annual flagship PR event, DEW had a different set of requirements from the original internal celebration. We needed to work much more closely with the TV team, while providing information for a global audience that would be far less patient than internal employees. The team proved that we could boost engagement in a limited setting, now our executive upline wanted to see if we could do it on what was traditionally EMC’s biggest stage.

Meeting the ambitious goals set out by leadership required several rounds of user research and usability testing, which culminated in the unpacking of a design sprint. This was particularly challenging because we didn’t have the ability to colocate the group in a single office. Instead, we made use of Dell’s telepresence system, which allowed us to link up conference rooms in Boston, London, and San Francisco on a shared video feed.

Fascinating aside: the front end of our design (as pictured below) was largely duplicated by Maestro, who has gone on to create a major virtual event product of their own. It’s true what they say about the sincerest form of flattery.

Objectives:

  • Boost multi-day engagement with the Dell EMC World Broadcast
  • Communicate the on-site excitement to a global audience
  • Double the online traffic received in previous years
  • Create an evergreen post-event website for all recorded media
  • Increase event pre-registration for the following year

Components

  • A modular responsive web-app
  • Integrated event sponsorship
  • Post-event archive
  • A media hub for hosting all press releases related to the event

Event Screenshot

Version 3:
Dell Technologies World (2018) – currently active

By 2018, we were so well established at Dell that the executives had begun to talk about productizing our work (spoiler: that is happening in 2019). For DTW’18 we were asked to raise the bar and take a few risks while streamlining and rebranding the UI. Due to quarterly budget timing, we had only a six-week runway to translate our 2017 post-event retrospective notes into an updated version of the product.

Conference room walls in San Francisco and Round Rock still show the burn marks from the amount of hair that caught on fire last Spring.

Objectives:

  • Continue to grow the remote audience
  • Rebrand to Dell Technologies
  • Use technology to convey the scale of DTW in a way that hadn’t been done before.
  • Improve analytics to better prioritize a productization of the app.

Components

  • A modular responsive web-app
  • All previous features from DEW’17
  • A Virtual Reality gallery, in conjunction with OmniVirt
  • A test pilot of Amplitude for measuring advanced behavioral KPI

Until Spring of 2019, reviewers can still find the evergreen version of this application online:

www.delltechnologiesworld.com/live.htm

Year over year growth of our audience exceeded 100%. SUS scores increased with a redesign of the UI to use a lighter color scheme and a better agenda layout. The VR gallery was just as successful as the 2D gallery. In post-event, we learned from Amplitude that many users were using the time scrubber in an attempt to discover relevant content. As a result, our next iteration is focusing heavily on timeline and interactive transcript technology for the evergreeen version of the upcoming Dell Technologies AI summit (November).

Prototype of v.3.1:
https://share.protopie.io/cNrXXzWx1HQ