Corona or no – the (global partner Konference) show must go on!

We’ve a tradition at K of every year going to the banya with friends organizing a conference to which we invite our favorite and most valued partners and industry colleagues. It’s a global event to which folks fly in from literally all over the world – from the Americas to Australia (unlike our smaler scale regional and functional conferences).

The tradition started way back in 1999 (a year I reviewed not long ago), and it had a good long run of 10 years until, in 2009, we split it up into smaller, bite-sized, regional conferences, since the global get-together was getting just too big. Thus were born separate conferences for: the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Asia-Australia, and Russia and neighboring states.

Back to the global conference – the first one was held in Moscow. The following year – in St. Petersburg, next – Cyprus, then Barcelona, Malta, and on and on in other coastal towns around the Mediterranean. Then appetites grew and took us to Caribbean islands, Rio de Janeiro and more exoticnesses. For more on these and other global gatherings – go here.

Several years afteAnd f the global conference was split up into regional ones, we kinda a missed it; so the obvious happened – we brought it back! (while keeping the regionally-focused ones too). For the reinstated biggies, we decided to have the world’s largest country as the theme and backdrop (well, why not?!). In 2017 it was in Moscow (where, as mentioned, the very first global partner conference was held in 1999 – what goes around comes around:); in 2018 – St. Petersburg; and in 2019 – Sochi. Curiously, 20 years ago these venue-cities simply wouldn’t have been able to host such large events; today – easily, and I’d recommend them to anyone.

Which brings us to this year…

Usually our traditional global partner conferences gather around 100-150 distributors and global partners – in-person. This year we were planning on (as is also a tradition!) spreading our wings a bit: to have it at the motorsport racetrack in Valencia. Alas – 2020 being… 2020, put paid to that! Still, tiresome, bothersome ubiquitous quarantine – it’s no reason not to have our global bash. We simply adjusted it: offline > online, rather – a hybrid of the two (yes, we do keep up with the times:). The original plan was for ~100 guests from 35 countries. In the end? 1800 from around 150 countries! // “Don’t underestimate the power of the global online event, Luke” :)

On the agenda for this hybrid global conference: my cyber-immunity concept; how the world is moving from the era of plastic to the cyber-era; our partner and product ecosystem; how our business has withstood the corona storm; and traditional reviews and forecasts from the cyber-ninjas in GReAT regarding the threat landscape.

The idea to have a conference online wasn’t entirely new, but we approached the organization most seriously: in the end we had an almost 12-hour online marathon made up of several events all brought under the global partner conference umbrella:

✅ We kicked off with a two-hour live broadcast from a studio in Singapore.
✅ Two global three-hour sessions from Moscow and London. And so partners from anywhere in the world could watch at a convenient time – we ran the broadcast twice.
✅ Between the two global broadcasts we had hour-long streams for partners in Europe, in the Middle East, and in Africa and Turkey.
✅ Three thematic breakouts: on B2CB2B and Industrial.

For added effect we’d prepared a 3D/360-degree online exhibition (open to anyone, btw). Viewers could approach the different virtual stands to learn more about our products, leave their comments about working with us (and receive a modest but pleasant digital gift), get acquainted with regional teams, and have a virtual stroll around HQ in Moscow.

There was the virtual recreation area with a cinema where you could watch short movies from the Tomorrow Unlocked film festival.

A few more facts and stats from the event:

✅ The broadcast was from three locations: Singapore, Moscow and London.
✅ In two days we built our first cyclorama in the Moscow office. Area: 18 m²; paint used: 30 liters!
✅ 1.5 days of rehearsals, of which 16 hours were spent trying to get a linkup between the video-studios in Moscow and London; total lockdown in London rendered our VPN tunnels and SRT protocols useless, but we eventually managed to get it all online.
✅ We transported – virtually – a girl from Moscow to London for an interview. Afterward, we carefully returned the valuable cargo home ).
✅ 160 gigabytes: the volume of video content from the 3D studio, animated backgrounds, alpha-channel graphics, and presentations from Singapore, Romania and Miami.
✅ 24 COVID-19 tests on the hired film crew in Moscow, and 30 in London.
✅ 25 partners from Moscow and Sao-Paulo turned up for the broadcast in person.
✅ The main broadcast was translated into 11 languages from the English: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian and Turkish.

In closing, a few assorted pics from the event:

We shared with colleagues anti-COVID greeting gestures from the cult Soviet film Kin-dza-dza:

And here are some of our Russian partners who were able to take part in person:

I think that, in terms of effectiveness and outreach, this partner conference was our biggest, best and most global – ever! Just think – if there’d been no pandemic, would it have been so?). Whatever, we’ve now set the virtual-conference bar so high, it’ll be interesting to see how we improve things even more – COVID or no COVID – next year!…

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