Cloud technology is not new. But even though companies have been gradually embracing cloud computing over the past decade, last year proved just how vital the technology was to event planners.
People couldn’t leave their homes for the most part of 2020. As Covid-19 affected economies, organisers quickly realised that they needed the cloud’s web-based computing services to provide new digital services to home-bound customers. With the roll out of hybrid models, consumers witnessed a new generation of events that they could watch without the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
At the height of the pandemic, the events industry globally suffered massive losses. According to Plan B, a UAE-based events agency that surveyed more than 300 companies, the events industry in the Middle East lost between Dh2.8billion ($762.3 million) to Dh5.5bn ($1.5bn).
As the vaccination drive continues to gather pace across the world, physical events are beginning to reappear. But will hybrid or virtual events rein superior over physical experiences in the future?
In the US, a report this year by American computer software company Flexera showed that 92 per cent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, while 82 per cent have a hybrid cloud strategy. Despite the acceleration of cloud adoption across the business landscape, most companies are barely scratching the surface of the cloud’s vast potential.
A PwC survey of C-level leaders in the US, released in 2021, showed that 53 per cent of companies have yet to reap substantial value from their cloud investments.
The Tokyo Olympics set a huge benchmark for the future of digitalised events and it marked a transformative time for athletes and sports fans, thanks to cloud-based technology. By offering new models of content delivery through the cloud, the Games reached a wider audience. An innovative broadcasting solution was designed to help transform the media industry for the digital era.
Going ahead, all eyes will be on the Middle East for the next two years as organisers gear up for Expo 2020 Dubai and the final preparations for the Fifa World Cup in Qatar.
Before the pandemic, it was predicted that up to 25 million visitors would attend the six-month-long event with more than 70 per cent of visitors coming from outside the UAE. While some travel restrictions remain, to expand Expo 2020 Dubai’s audience reach, the need for cloud-based technology seems more important than ever.
There are plans to livestream events such as panel discussions. The cloud's broadcasting solutions will enable citizens from across the world to immerse themselves in the event even from the comfort of their homes, throughout the six months.
While we are still some time away until the Fifa World Cup 2022, the potential for cloud technology to transform sports entertainment is immense. A series of artificial intelligence-powered solutions are set to transform and digitalise the way sports entertainment has so far been organised, broadcast and consumed.
One solution, for example, called Fan Video Hub, collects and filters real-time videos uploaded by fans from all over the world to a variety of social network platforms. Such innovations are bound to reshape the way sports entertainment is consumed. And enhancing broadcasting solutions through the cloud will only maximise the thrill of such sporting events.
Humans crave social interactions, therefore the global event landscape will not completely shift over to in-person events, but the reality is that nobody really knows when the pandemic will be over. With several restrictions lifted across the world, audiences will determine their own comfort levels with risk when it comes to attending these events.
But from the organiser's perspective, planning for an event to be hybrid or virtual allows companies to lay the groundwork for back-up plans while still anticipating actual physical attendance for these big events. When the virtual components for a hybrid event are already arranged, it is easier for attendees and planners to pivot between attending in person or online without completely rethinking the format.
For events to compel and connect, organisers need to keep up with the pace of change and contribute to its conversation. Technology has the power to accelerate and facilitate but not alter the fundamental experience.