The Switch’s Robert Szabo-Rowe looks at how home working, regional lockdowns, event cancellations and travel restrictions mean that enterprises need to go virtual in the right way
As the COVID-19 coronavirus has spread over the past few weeks, workers and business owners across the globe have quickly awakened to a new world in which the face-to-face, handshake method of doing business has overnight been replaced by a surge in digital communications and virtual meetings. As remote working becomes the norm, a whole new way of life, in which “self-isolation”, “social distancing” and “global pandemic” have become everyday terms, has emerged. Indeed, a survey of over 2,200 marketers conducted by Econsultancy and Marketing Week in March revealed that 82 percent of North American and 91 percent of UK marketers say their business customers, unsurprisingly, don’t want to schedule in-person meetings. The impact on traditional ways of doing business has been huge.
The wholesale postponement or cancellation of live events makes ‘business as usual’ an unprecedented challenge. But live press conferences, product launches, corporate announcements, investor briefings, customer seminars, town hall meetings, campaign kick-offs and other business-critical face-to-face communications cannot wait indefinitely – finding effective and professional digital alternatives is essential.
Of course, businesses must put the welfare of their staff, customers, partners and other contacts first, but the demise of genuine face time is hitting business progress and that is not good news for jobs, the economy and life itself. The Econsultancy/Marketing Week survey shows that 55 percent of marketers in the UK and 57 percent of those in North America say that their own product or service launches are delayed or under review, while a similar proportion across both markets say marketing campaigns are delayed or under review. What’s more, 55 percent of UK and 64 percent of North American marketers expect delays in product or service launches from business clients.
Savvy enterprises are working hard to find new ways to engage, inform and serve employees, customers, investors, suppliers, and other stakeholders. The organizations are finding creative and effective ways to survive and thrive by “going virtual” and making the internet work for them in highly effective ways.
When it comes to remote and virtual events, a webinar with a basic set-up won’t have the desired impact or help organizations stand out from the crowd. It is crucial to find fresh approaches that enable companies to raise their game and produce “TV like” experiences for their audiences by using a professional studio or creating a remote production environment supported by the technology necessary to reach enterprise audiences.
At the Switch, we are working with enterprises to ‘broadcast’ to their audiences in a way that elevates the virtual event beyond talking heads in a poorly lit meeting room. Companies of all sizes and budgets are able to create the impact and gravitas of a top-caliber live business event by leaning on our two decades of live production experience and, in many instances, employing our studios in Burbank, Los Angeles, New York or London, to communicate to markets across the world – or linking via Skype into the professional production environment of these facilities and their global connectivity.
Already we are working with major organizations running industry summits across continents, so that they can draw on our expertise and facilities to enable people oceans away to see and speak to each other in real time. The world’s biggest brands, from Microsoft and Nintendo to Facebook and Blizzard Entertainment, rely on The Switch to deliver high-quality live content from their most important live events throughout the world – from one-off product launches to major industry gatherings. With our professional facilities, they are supported by broadcast experts and are unencumbered by the latency/delay problems other simple off-the-rack conference solutions often come with. For example, we recently worked with a money management firm that needed a simple live-to-camera piece to address employees around the world about the current state of affairs. Professional solutions such as ours can meet the needs of enterprises of all sizes and types – and it won’t break the budget.
Additionally, in providing these production and delivery services, the health and safety of our staff, customers and guests remains our top priority. As such, we continue to follow CDC guidelines, taking every precaution to keep people safe and our facilities operating 24/7 at time when providing production and transmission services to organizations communicating to audiences across the globe remains critical.
The one thing no company should do at this point is to go dark and stop activity out of fear until the crisis passes. Effective communication at every level of society, including between and within businesses remains of paramount importance. In fact, businesses have to take the view that they are not simply making the best of a bad situation but must communicate more effectively than ever in order to create new opportunities. Those are the businesses that will emerge from the current crisis as strong as or stronger than before.
In the meantime, they can minimize the number of people who need to travel while we provide a safe environment for organizations to connect with the people they need to reach. The upshot is that taking a professional broadcast approach to live enterprise events will enable companies to continue to successfully launch new products, share company news, talk to their employees, and create thought leadership – in short, it will enable them to more effectively bring home the messages that drive their business.
Robert Szabo-Rowe is Senior Vice President of Product Management at The Switch