Once upon a time, around the beginning of May, a new customer of ours asked me if any of the sessions from Sage Summit 2016 would be streamed live or recorded. They were set for their software implementation go-live in July, so he didn’t think it would be fair to take off to Chicago for a week.
I knew Sage hadn’t been recording sessions the last few Sage Summits I went to, but I promised I would find out. So I picked up the phone and called my source on the Sage Events Team (who was just featured in Connect Corporate magazine), Danielle Cote, to see what I could find.
At the time, I wasn’t able to find much. That was understandable, especially since she had told me a month earlier there were plenty of things about Sage Summit 2016 that were going to be announced in the following months. And when you’re adding new things to an event as big as Sage Summit, they have to make sure all their ducks are in a row before introducing them to the public.
I pretty much had put the thought about online sessions out of my mind until this morning, when Sage Summit Live was announced on Twitter this morning. So to finally answer the question, yes, some parts of Sage Summit 2016 will be available online.
Sage Summit Live brings highlights to everyone
I know you’re probably sick of hearing this from me, but I’m always mentioning that Sage wants feedback about its events, both positive and negative. Sage Summit Live was born out of a desire to help people who told the folks at Sage it was difficult to get to Sage Summit in person.
“One of the challenges we have is to bring the entire Sage community and other business people interested in attending Sage Summit together,” Danielle said. “A lot of small businesses and customers have closing quarters and month end, and just can’t make it to Summit. And some can’t afford it — and it is an investment — and we understand.”
Now that Sage Summit is an international event, the impact is greater for Sage partners and customers halfway around the world.
“Obviously, for a small business in Australia, to invest a lot of money in their travels to Chicago is a really high bar for some, so we didn’t want to penalize them,” Danielle said. “Think about what it would cost them, especially since they would need an extra two days of travel to come and go, and it just takes too much away from their business.”
While an online platform is by no means a substitute for the real deal, Danielle said Sage Summit Live can bring the event to the people who can’t attend the event in a limited capacity and have a chance to engage with the community.
Every day during Sage Summit, Sage Summit Live will feature the keynote speeches and featured conversations. “So everyone will have a chance to listen to Sage CEO Stephen Kelly, Sir Richard Branson, Zooey Deschanel, and the other celebrities,” Danielle said.
There will be other parts of Sage Summit that will be featured online as well. For example, Sage Summit Live will have a camera set up at one of the Thought Leadership Theaters and will broadcast live throughout the day.
“In some cases it will be a live stream and in some cases it will be recorded and provided on demand,” Danielle said.
There will also be opportunities to chat with other “attendees” during Sage Summit Live and other interactive features.
“It’s a live platform with some ability to network,” Danielle said. “It’s not as good as face-to-face networking, but it at least provides some level of networking.”
The best news for the people who can’t attend Sage Summit for one reason or another: Registration for Sage Summit Live will be completely free.
Sage Summit Live in the complex age of digital media
Putting together Sage Summit Live was no easy task for the folks on the Sage Events Team. With almost all attendees of any conference able to record video from their ubiquitous mobile devices, celebrity guests are challenged to protect their greatest intellectual property: themselves.
It took quite a while to work through all the details of providing a registration platform that allowed for free attendance.
“Our challenge was that celebrity talent have many levels of security to protect their brand image,” she said. “The celebrities are requiring us to have registration through a gated mechanism and secure who’s seeing them so it’s not just free and clear out there.”
Another challenge was trying to find the right balance between too much content for Sage Summit Live but having enough content to keep people engaged and making sure they receive value for their time.
“What we want is that you’re going to love it so much that you’re going to want to come to Sage Summit,” Danielle said. “There’s no substitution for live participation. The level of engagement is vastly different. If people log on, do they engage? Are they multitasking? Are they really paying attention. We’ve all done it: We’ve all logged onto a webinar at work and did other things while we were listening. When you’re at the event you’re in the present.”
And just like the Developer Zone, this is a first-year attempt at creating an online platform for Sage Summit. Danielle said they are relying on the participants of Sage Summit Live to give feedback and help guide its future.
“We’re really excited about this,” Danielle said. “We want you to let us know about your experience because I’m sure we’ll build on it in the future and see if we take this and enhance it and make it more robust or is it just enough. We want to provide enough for people to get value out of it.”