Part 2: How did Sage Sessions CRE Online stack against other events?

Yesterday, we looked at how the general and breakout sessions went for the Sage Sessions CRE Online. Today, we’re going to talk about the digital event’s support and roundtable sessions, plus how it stacked up to other digital events in 2020.


Sage Sessions CRE Online featured excellent mix of sessions (continued)

The place where Sage Sessions CRE Online shined the brightest was in the Support Sessions. When you get down to it, support is what our customers want the most out of a software conference. The No. 1 complaint we’ve gotten over the past few years is Sage dropped ouch of their hands-on or support-based sessions from their in-person events.

These attendee-driven sessions were open-ended, allowing Sage customers or partners to ask questions from start to finish. And the Sage CRE folks hit the nail on the head with their Support Sessions setup. They repeated both Sage 300 CRE and Sage 100 Contractor Year-End sessions, which was a brilliant idea.

Not everyone has the time to go back and review an online event, especially since this is the busy season for accountants. Having the choice of which session to attend makes it so much easier for attendees to attend another session that they may have otherwise missed. Also, Jesse Gordon, a principal customer service analyst for the Sage 300 CRE team, welcomed back returning attendees to the 3 p.m. version of the Q&A session who attended the 11:55 a.m. one.

That’s another benefit with multiple versions of the same Q&A session: Maybe you think of a question after the first one was over. Or maybe you attend the second to see if anyone brings up questions you hadn’t thought of.

The one thing I was disappointed about the on-demand content was that the roundtable discussions weren’t accessible. I understand why they were limited-access while they were live: In a roundtable, too many cooks can spoil the broth. However, it would have been nice to watch a rebroadcast if you weren’t able to get in — or just interested in the content and didn’t want to participate. It also could have made for great conversation starters at Sage City or any future event.

Sage Sessions CRE Online: How did it compare to other digital events?

Needless to say, 2020 is a year we’re all still trying to figure out. That’s true for large-scale event planners, who are trying to figure out how to fit days worth of in-person content into an easily digestible digital format. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from over the years, the events coordinators of this world love to compare notes as our customers do when they attend Sage Summit.

The first digital event I attended this year was Cultivate’20. The 90-year-old horticulture convention attempted their first all-digital event with mild success. While they didn’t have multiple sessions running at the same time, AmericanHort came up with the concept of networking breakout sessions that were proctored by an industry insider. While these breakouts had a topic, many times, the conversation went where the attendees wanted to take them, which is where they should go.

I also saw part of Core Associates’ online event a few weeks ago. As they’re an ISV for Sage Construction and Real Estate, their content was much more linear. There was only one session per time slot, but it suited their content. In the future, I can see them having separate tracks for TimberScan and their Titanium product.

Sage Sessions CRE Online sponsors

Sage Sessions CRE Online could have been improved if some of the sponsoring ISVs had a chance to host sessions for their products.

If I were to rank them, I would definitely say Sage Sessions CRE Online was the best virtual event I attended this year. But that’s not to say there weren’t a few things I wouldn’t change.

The first thing I noticed was there was no content from any of the Sage CRE ISVs — or any ancillary Sage products. If this event was expanded, there could be sessions for products like Sage Service and Field Operations, TimberScan, Sage Fixed Assets or hh2.

It did look like there were some chat rooms where people could hang out during the event, divided into several topics. However, they don’t seem to have been used very much. But I thought of a way they could have been propped up.

When a session finishes in an in-person event, it usually ends with several people gathering around the speaker to ask additional questions. The presenters at Sage Sessions CRE Online could have ended their classes with, “If you have any more questions or want to continue the conversation, met me over in the General Contractor Lounge. I’ll be there for 15 minutes.”

Again, these are only suggestions. While they would have improved Sage Sessions CRE Online, it didn’t detract from the overall event.

What does Sage Sessions CRE Online mean for future Sage virtual events?

Of course we want to see in-person events come back, but until then, I’m looking forward to seeing how virtual events continue to improve. And I hope this event becomes a springboard for future Sage online events.

The one thing that worries me about Sage being able to repeat its successes with Sage Sessions CRE Online is that Sage’s CRE teams and ERP teams have separate marketing and events teams. However, the fact that Nancy Harris attended this one makes me think the folks at Sage are going to take notes to carry across the board.

Then again, I would love to see for some of the ideas in the Sage Sessions CRE Online come out of the virtual world and into in-person events like Sage Summit. Seeing roundtable and Q&A sessions was a refreshing change to a wall of sales sessions.

I’m hoping this is a great opportunity for Sage to lead the way with virtual events with focusing more on the attendees than their products. If Sage Sessions CRE Online is any indication, they’re on the path for great things.

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