Collision was America’s fastest growing tech conference, set to be the biggest and brightest one yet this summer. When faced with COVID-19 cancelling events across the globe, the organizers didn’t shy away from the challenge. Put on by Web Summit, they brought the conference to us, accessible to attendees online from the comfort of their own homes.
Here at BitBakery, we were curious to see how the traditionally large-scale, in-person event would fare. Now that the world has gone digital by default, would the networking and learning have the same value online that it did in real life?
After building out a full online conference software system in just two months, the first day of the virtual conference doubled as its demo day. We were impressed to see this showcase received with such a positive outcome.
So what made Collision From Home such a huge success and what does this mean for the standard of virtual conferences and virtual professional development moving forward? Here’s our take.
Workshops: Something for everyone
Featuring over 450 speakers for over 100 hours of online content over three days, Collision From Home covered every topic imaginable. Running on three channels featuring different speakers across all content themes, it wasn’t hard to find something to engage in. Talks dove deep into topics such as environmental conservation, automotive innovation, data science and content marketing.
The workshops were presented through a hybrid of Web Summit’s technology and outside technology, with pre recorded Zoom interviews to keep things running smoothly.
Mingle: Virtual collisions
One of the defining features of the Collision conference is in its namesake - collisions of fellow tech-enthusiasts. These collisions fostered connections for future development, business and networking. So how do virtual collisions work? Through what felt like video chat roulette, Collision From Home offered a Mingle feature that allowed attendees to connect others across the globe.
“Seriously get into this mingle thing, it's a lot of fun and that does an amazing job of matching people.” - Wes Worsfold
While large conferences in person can hurt communication patterns, the opportunity to connect virtually helped connect attendees with people all over the world that they may have never met otherwise!
“I could do this all day” - Alex Kinsella
Chat feature: Stress free networking
“I’m not a joiner” might be the most used phrase heard at conferences when it comes to networking sessions. While in-person networking has huge benefits, the chat feature opened up opportunities for people who typically don’t feel comfortable approaching strangers to chat. Not only was Collision From Home more accessible, this feature increased inclusivity significantly.
Attendees could connect with anyone registered for the conference, and could curate and choose exactly who to connect with with the ability to know their face from their profile picture and role before even making the first move.
Exhibitors: Virtual booths
While we missed out on grabbing free stickers and other swag, we could still connect with exhibitors virtually. With major companies such as Cisco, AWS and PitchBook attending, something about Collision from Home clearly worked for global partners.
In addition to the big names above, many startups were attending and ready to connect, which was a great way to get connected with the latest tech hopefuls–all from home.
Perks: Legacy content
Another perk of Collision From Home was “Legacy Content”. These were specially curated talks from previous conferences. This included talks from influential speakers Sherly Sandberg sharing her hopes for the future of Facebook, Peter Thiel on the next level of civilisation, Tim Berners-Lee on a contract for the web and a talk from Justin Trudeau on the Canadian tech revolution.
Even if you couldn’t find a workshop or talk you were interested in, this legacy content provided even more flexibility for you to get exactly what you needed.
Reflections on hard times and hope for the future…
Finally, one overarching theme of the conference was on how companies are dealing with the challenges of a global pandemic. Now that the economy has gone digital, many reflected on the important lesson of leadership in crisis - go back to the business basics. Keep your people safe and your customers connected and collaborate in every possible way. Calm is the new superpower.
Collision From Home took leadership in the virtual conference world, and has now set a new standard for conferences and professional development in the future, perhaps both virtually and traditionally. What will we see next?