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#MarketingEventsAwards 2021 highlight: In tough times, Cisco reaches out and connects with this its base

#MarketingEventsAwards 2021 highlight: In tough times, Cisco reaches out and connects with this its base

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When the pandemic hit, Cisco had to pivot its annual Cisco Connect event to a virtual one. While it had to tackle retaining the audience’s attention and engagement during the event, Cisco also decided to take the opportunity to alter its theme and provide solutions for businesses and clients who needed guidance in navigating through the pandemic.

Cisco’s ability to quickly adapt and pivot to a virtual event, while using it to its advantage by offering solutions to businesses and clients to help them during the pandemic, impressed the judges and secured it the bronze award for Best Innovative Transition – Physical to Virtual at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s Marketing Events Awards 2021. 

Challenge 

Cisco annually holds Cisco Connect, an educational event targeted towards clients, stakeholders, and the public, to equip them with the necessary skills and insights  they need to enhance their digital know-how. 

Cisco Connect is usually a physical event held in conference and convention venues across six countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The all-day programmes featured several topics based on the theme for the year. While the events were well-attended, they were mostly only held in one city in each of the countries – on average, Cisco Connect saw 800 attendees per country every year.  

However, after the countries went into lockdown because of the pandemic, Cisco Connect had to adapt and pivot to a virtual event. While it was a new format, this also presented the opportunity to reach a wider audience. Cisco Connect 2020 was themed after remaining digitally resilient in the time of COVID-19.  

Like any virtual event, Cisco had to tackle retaining the audience’s attention and engagement during the event. To that end, Cisco prepared a programme equipped with significant keynote speakers, a relevant agenda, and effort-requiring games and activities. 

Strategy 

While physical events became impossible, the need for audiences to learn about digital transformation became more critical. Hence, Cisco decided to go ahead with the event, and despite having to pivot to virtual, it allowed Cisco to demonstrate its collaboration tools through Webex. The virtual event was broadcast in six streams and translated into four languages – English, Thai, Bahasa, and Vietnamese. 

A pre-event survey revealed that among Cisco’s customers, resellers, partners, and key stakeholders, 81% had a priority in architecture and infrastructure.

Small businesses wanted to learn more about how new business technology could assure security (27%) and collaboration (13%), whereas large businesses wanted to prioritise tools on collaboration (20%) and enterprise networking (18%).

Cisco then decided Cisco Connect 2020 would centre around helping current clients traverse the complex changes of the new-normal regarding digital transformation. 

Additionally, Cisco prepared engagement activities such as polling, Q&As and the Share & Win Contest – a Facebook share-post activation for clients, employees, and social media followers – to achieve high attendee engagement. 

Execution 

Cisco’s strategy was brought to life through its prominent keynote speakers’ talking points. Cisco’s country managers spoke about how businesses have to rethink the way their employees collaborate and operate, and how Cisco could help ease the strain on IT infrastructures and policies. 

Meanwhile, Naveen Menon, president of Cisco ASEAN, explained the transformation that businesses across ASEAN were now facing, and how technology would play an integral role in helping businesses recover, transform, and boost their growth in the near future. 

Additionally, Shashank Luthra, director of customer experience, discussed how its business continuity solutions could help owners accelerate work set-ups to improve business continuity, while Vipul Shah, regional director of MNC sales Asia Pacific, went into a deep dive on how technology-driven partnerships can impact businesses in the constantly evolving technology landscape. 

All presentations were equally meaningful to the objective of bridging the digital knowledge gap for both viewers and participants, and Cisco was able to leverage the Webex suite features to ensure a smooth, seamless, and enjoyable programme for its attendees and viewers. 

Results 

Overall, the event generated around 14,066 pre-registrations. The event peaked in the first and fifth hours of the event, with a total of 23,219 live viewers. Meanwhile, Twitter peaked in the fourth hour with over 581,580 live viewers, and Facebook peaked during the first two hours with 1.65 million live viewers. 

Cisco’s post-event survey, comprising C-level executives and managers, showed that 90% were most likely to keep up to date with its products and technology because of what they learned from the event, while 81% were able to enhance their knowledge on Cisco as a brand and IT company.

The survey also revealed that decision-makers were more interested in actual products rather than services, and they appreciated the speakers were able to integrate services and products into relevant information during the presentations. This was especially so for medium-sized businesses.  

According to the survey, the participants also requested more live technical sessions and demonstrations, as well as copies of the on-demand sessions. At the same time, they enjoyed the interactive Q&A sessions – which saw about 758 questions – as the speakers were able to engage directly with the virtual audience.  

In conclusion, Cisco Connect 2020 was considered a success for the ASEAN team after 1,326 hand raisers were generated from the event, and the survey churned out positive feedback from participants. 

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