Virtual Environments Go Mobile
There is no question that virtual platforms are extending the value and reach of physical events, but what about extending beyond the laptop? Mobile devices have now reached the level needed to act as a direct connection into the event itself. Within Cisco Live Virtual, we began to see this trend, as attendees looked to the virtual space as well as Twitter, to ask a myriad of event-based questions during the event.
Recently I read about a startup known as Mobile Roadie, which is a platform to create custom iPhone apps for events. The well-known European web conference, Le Web, recently leveraged this platform to create a comprehensive and well designed app that bundled all conference essentials into one neat package. Anyone who downloaded the app could now quickly view all speaker bios, session info, event news, buzz, maps, photos and links. Of course this app would not be complete without Twitter and Facebook integration, allowing attendees to share thoughts on the event, as well as see who is attending each session. Many of the sessions, such as keynotes and interviews were streamed live using UStream, also built into the app. The app is free, I suggest downloading it and taking it for a test drive.
What is interesting is that this kind of application demonstrates a new player in the virtual event space. The Le Web conference chose not create a browser based virtual event, and instead opted to create a mobile app which offered many of the same features. For major events such as Cisco Live, I see this more as a specialty item, as the Cisco Live Virtual platform is an environment where attendees will interact for many hours at a time, a task not well suited for mobile devices. However, for the physical attendee, an app such as this allows them to keep one foot in the virtual world, and leverage as much as possible from the physical event. I wonder if the current top virtual event platforms have mobile devices on the roadmap?
From a green perspective, eliminating paper event catalogs is yet another step in reducing the carbon footprint of the event. The ability to make last minute changes to a session catalog is not always an option with a paper guide, but can be instantly pushed to the mobile app.
The possibilities for apps of this type are endless. The level of interactive multimedia that can now exist within one mobile application, based around a single event, and experienced by the majority of attendees, is staggering. For the organizers, this will create a new level of reporting and attendee usage patterns which should help shape future conferences. I would expect to see many more custom apps like this coming out soon. Mobile Roadie currently only supports the iPhone, however they expect to have an Android version coming out soon.