WebexOne was originally planned as a physical event for 2,500 customers, partners, press and analysts at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. This two-day event was designed to introduce the All-New Webex collaboration suite to the world over of two days of keynotes, workshops and demonstrations. The vision? That the all-new Webex will deliver experiences 10x better than in-person interactions.
When COVID-19 suddenly disrupted our ability to congregate in person, our objective became much more relevant: How could we deliver a re-imagined, enhanced WebexOne digital experience that was even more enriching than an in-person event… and do it in 7 weeks?
We didn't want WebexOne to be just another virtual tech conference. Instead, we sought to maximize the power of digital accessibility to broaden and amplify our global collective stories, to drive intimate connections into your home, to celebrate the power of people (of all people) together as one… at WebexOne. Our pivot was to share the stories of how we rose to meet the challenges of working in a pandemic world; of how we each create magic when we choose to embrace inclusive diversity; of how there’s unlimited power in people and technology coming together to do amazing things with amazing remote collaboration tools.
At Cisco, our mission is to power an inclusive future for all and to inspire new possibilities by empowering people and teams. We embraced this mission at WebexOne through unique digital experiences that connected our human stories around the world … through the power of Webex.
2020 brought unimaginable challenges to everyone, everywhere. Circumstances separated us whether by health, by politics, by social injustice. And in spite of these deep divides, we still found new and innovative ways to thrive, to connect, to work and to create value in the world. It was therefore critical that when we pivoted from the physical to digital event, we did so with purpose. We sought to harness our core ethos of inclusivity – that unshakable mindset of coming together – to power every decision, message and experience within WebexOne. So our theme became, “The Magic of We.”
When we moved from a physical event at Mandalay Bay to a digital event, we knew it couldn’t just remain as a US, English-centric event. We had an opportunity to bring WebexOne to a global stage. We therefore localized all of our content into 7+ languages and deployed it across six time zones, into 9 markets. But we didn’t stop at localization. To set us apart from other conferences, it was important that the storytelling resonated with local experiences and truths. So where content wasn’t deemed relevant for the market, we replaced it with local customer stories to create truly bespoke, resonant content for our global audience.
When it came to keynote speakers, we engaged changemakers who embodied the same inclusive ethos as we did: A human rights expert spoke about the equal opportunity for every human to participate in the global economy and shared how opportunity may be unevenly distributed, but human potential is not. A host of RuPaul’s Drag Race, who helps us see a broader spectrum of gender identity and expression, closed out our event.
We also re-imagined the event entertainment: Given the arts community was one of the hardest hit by COVID, we put a spotlight on the largely unemployed Broadway community by partnering with Broadway Cares / Equity Fights Aids. Broadway stars such as Lea Salonga (voice of Disney’s Jasmine & Mulan) and Sydnee Winters (from Hamilton) gave performances and told their stories of how COVID has impacted them. Webex also provided a donation to Broadway Cares, providing medication for 120 people in dire need and filled 4,000 grocery bags at a local pantry.
Even the SWAG bag had to be re-thought. It could no longer be a leave-behind with some branded stationery, but had to be purposeful, deliberate, packaged and mailed globally to our VIP’s doorsteps. So we created “The Magic of We” gift box to further connect our theme with a physical experience:
The live, digital broadcast included 75-minute keynotes, 3 tracks with 30 broadcast sessions, 37 customer speakers, and 44 on-demand deep dive content for customers, sponsors, industry analysts and more
Global accessibility was important to us. Unlike most every other tech event, we went the extra mile to translate all portions of the event experience, down to the registration button, in 7 languages and broadcasted across multiple time zones around the world.
The results produced 2.7M keynote views and 151M+ social reach.
The WebexOne digital experience netted 92.3% positive sentiment and 80% of attendees believed that WebexOne was a valuable use of their time. Over half (52%) of attendees said they’d actively advocate and promote the use of Webex solutions and products in their business
Our results, however, are best expressed through our attendees. Some quotes: “It was 10x better to attend from home than in person.”
“Amal Clooney put an entirely different spin on the benefits of these resources. Her story and accomplishments make women from various backgrounds think more deeply about what it is that they do. Thinking about mission and how you want to be remembered is important no matter what your profession happens to be.”