What happens when you and your team put your personal time into planning an annual IT Conference and a global health crisis forces you to radically rethink the shape and format of your event? You turn to Webex of course!
Back in 2015 I co-founded AtlanTec, a conference located on the edge of the Atlantic ocean in Galway City, Ireland. Nestled at the foot of Galway Bay, the city boasts a vibrant, multi-cultural atmosphere with a long history of festivals and a strong startup IT community. Our vision for AtlanTec was to showcase the vast pool of talent situated in the west of Ireland and to bring great minds in the IT and Med Tech communities together.
As the conference entered its 6th year, our committee reconvened in late 2019 and started working on the agenda for 2020’s line-up, which promised to be bigger than ever before. As the global health pandemic escalated, we quickly decided to transition the conference to a series of virtual events over Webex, which offered an outstanding opportunity to support the conference and continue all of its traditions.
We quickly spun up a new Webex site, and our invites were re-shaped for attendees registering for virtual events. Hosting the event online allowed us to reduce our cost outlay making the conference a free event to all attendees as we extended our famous ‘céad míle fáilte’ (A hundred thousand welcomes’ in Irish) to attendees joining us from Australia, the US, the UK, Kenya, Spain, India, and of course from all across Ireland. We simply would not have had the opportunity to reach these people without the power of Webex.
I opened the conference with our very own Distinguished Engineer and Cisco Galway Site lead Keith Griffin as he spoke through how Cisco are leading the way in evolving AI in the Collaboration landscape.
The topics presented throughout the conference were diverse with sessions such as ‘Creating a Data Science Culture’ and ‘How a police force resounds to new waves of E-commerce financial crime’, but we were also able to use Webex to give a voice to IT startups in our community. We invited speakers to talk about how to lead teams remotely and how best to address new challenges which arise as we work away from the office. Our presenters spoke about how to engage and bring your personality to meetings by having your camera turned on and seeing your friends and colleagues in high definition through the 5×5 grid view on Webex.
In total we saw over 5,000 registrations for a series of 30 events held throughout the week including our inaugural AtlanTec quiz with Webex also providing the ability to seamlessly record all our events, allowing for those that couldn’t join live to catchup later.
We received feedback from attendees who praised the interactive capabilities of Webex. For me it was very rewarding to see levels of engagement rise during these Webex sessions as attendees used the inbuilt Webex chat service to pose even more questions to presenters from the comfort of their own homes.
Introducing Webex to the AtlanTec conference will change the way we approach future conference days, allowing us to stream future sessions to attendees who cannot be there on the day but want to experience our sense of community online.
Ultimately, AtlanTec has always thrived on a sense of community and the meeting of minds each year in Galway. It was a privilege to combine my work life as a product manager on Webex with my passion for this conference. We were thrilled to see this conference continue in 2020 as we leveraged the power of Webex to bring everyone together – especially as we need community spirit more than ever right now. Check out AtlanTec (www.AtlanTec.ie), and maybe we’ll see you in Galway next year — or even remotely, via Webex!
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