The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all walks of our lives. From work to education and commute to shopping, almost everything is impacted. Some countries are getting back on track, and The Netherlands is one of them, although there’s some time before we return to the new normal. During this period, most events that were supposed to happen have shifted online and the renown World Summit AI is one of them.
World Summit AI
The World Summit AI event brings together a global AI ecosystem of enterprise, big tech, startups, investors and Science. Also, some of the brightest brains in AI as speakers are present every year to answer and tackle some of the most burning AI issues and set the global AI agenda. However, as 2020 turned uncertain, the organisers at InspiredMinds decided to make World Summit AI a digital experience.
While it might sound easy, the digital transformation of one of the most significant global events wasn’t easy. In a conversation with Silicon Canals, InspiredMinds’ CEO, Founder and Board member, Sarah Porter, lets us in on some of the challenges they faced in their journey of taking the World Summit AI (WSAI) online. Furthermore, we also delved deeper to know about key trends that will take centre stage in the event’s next edition, and what Amsterdam means to WSAI.
Digital transformation can be ‘challenging’
The decision and process of taking one of the most significant events online is no easy feat. This year, WSAI was all set to happen in Montreal, Canada, but just two weeks prior, the decision to switch the event to digital was made.
“As a leader, I felt sick. We spent a year preparing for a physical event, but the surge in cases globally was evident. While there were no cases at that moment in Quebec and very few in Canada, a pattern was clearly forming. With a high ratio of international attendees, I decided to switch the event online,” notes Porter. “InspiredMinds teams worked tirelessly with our speakers to create a digital platform. We made pre-recordings to eliminate the risk associated with live production. We made the event available on demand for 60 days, and our delegates loved this. Our community supported us, and it went quite well.”
WSAI has since then run over 20 digital events. These events span from a COVID series webinars for their medical community, to a two-day online event in May. In part, InsipredMinds was learning as a team on how to execute a digital event since its Q3 summit would be conducted virtually as well. The firm wanted to be well versed in what could go wrong and what their customers wanted by Q3.
“The impact on WSAI, which usually runs in October, has been challenging. Our community traditionally uses such summits to network, for experience (in our festival style summits), for world-class content, and for conducting business face to face. Transferring this to a digital platform meant shifting focus firmly on a high level of production, high level of speakers and curated content that we are known for and facilitating the best networking experience possible,” says Porter.
Since networking and facilitating was a problematic and key scenario for the event, the team used a customised platform instead of uploading the content on YouTube. “We chose to invest in the very best platform and production teams by outsourcing parts to a specialist broadcasting team and a BAFTA TV director. Also curated the audience’s experiences,“ Porter adds.
Ensuring engagement online
For all people working from home, it’s not easy to engage with content online. To tackle this, the WSAI team divided 12 stages of its event into 8 sessions in a series that spans three months. “We also saw a huge opportunity in the way online democratising access to our summits. It resulted in a notable increase in attendance globally, which is exactly what AI needs.”
5th anniversary of WSAI will be celebrated in Amsterdam
WSAI signed a two-year deal with the city of Amsterdam to host its event there. While this year the event is being conducted digitally, next year is the 5th anniversary of World Summit AI, and folks over at InspiredMinds say that they have something ‘huge’ for next year, which they’ll soon reveal. As aptly put by Porter, Amsterdam is home to a quiet, yet powerful tech scene.
Porter remarks, “Amsterdam is regarded as the pan European epicentre of AI for both, the Dutch national strategy on AI and also for the European and global coalitions and government strategies, which are based in The Hague and the Amsterdam surrounding area. It is an incredibly sustainable city, which is a part of our ethos too. Overall, World Summit being a community built from within the ecosystem itself, there’s a lot of love for WSAI by the practitioners and business leaders who see Amsterdam as its home for next year.”