My experience with last year’s Wild Digital SEA event was quite different from this year’s.
For one, Wild Digital SEA 2020 went virtual.
However, tickets still cost US$500-800 for individuals, depending on what kind of access you wanted at the event.
This meant that one would have rather high expectations, right?
Every feature was still similar, just transformed into an online experience, but that didn’t mean that it was an easy effort.
In fact, I’d actually say that the virtual Wild Digital SEA 2020 managed to pack more information than its physical events could.
Virtual Panels Need To Stay
One of the most prominent features of the event are of course its panels.
Over the course of 4 days (November 3-6), around 25-30 panels (a very rough calculation of mine) took place.
A good number of them touched on relevant topics such as digitalisation and COVID-19’s impact on the business ecosystem.
Now, here’s why I think I won’t complain if Wild Digital opted to continue going digital in the future, whether for COVID-19 related reasons or not.
To be very honest, I’ve found some of Wild Digital’s panels to be boring, as in the “I could doze off right now” kind of boring.
With it now virtual, I could pick and choose which panels I wanted to watch without fear that if I wasn’t staying in my seat, I’d lose access to the show.
Even better, I could miss the live session and just rewatch it later at a more convenient time.
I could rewatch it 10 times if I wanted to.
And this, I think was the biggest benefit of Wild Digital going virtual.
As for the panels themselves, they were alright. There were interesting ones here and there, but what I found disappointing was how some of them didn’t actually match their initial summaries.
Both speaker(s) and moderator would sometimes go completely off topic, and discuss something that I felt didn’t really bring much value (in terms of application) to the watcher.
Some just straight up felt like a company showcase (which is annoying when it isn’t a “Spotlight” panel).
Somehow, when it was in person like last year, I felt the panels were a lot more focused.
Connection-wise, I didn’t come across any panels that were disrupted by bad Wi-Fi, so I believe they all went on without a hitch.
More Control Over Meetings
Another integral part of Wild Digital SEA are the meetings and networking that take place. You’re paying for such access even with the basic US$500 ticket, so why not take advantage of it?
Virtual meetings and networking are a blessing to me.
I’m quite shy in person and find it hard to just start talking to someone out of the blue.
Maybe you like the surprise, but I prefer knowing a little bit about someone first before talking to them. Simple things like a name and what they do, where they work at, etc.
Here I was able to first browse the attendees and get those bits of information out of the way, and then pick and choose who I wanted to meet.
Setting up a meeting was as simple as hovering over their profile picture and clicking “Meet”. Then you’d set a time and date for it, and just show up.
Meetings are conducted like a Zoom session, so you can opt to turn your camera off or screenshare something.
I liked having this level of control, and I’m more likely to end up meeting more people this way than IRL.
Gamification Of Engagement
But keeping your audience engaged can be tougher online, where getting distracted by other sites and devices is so easy.
To combat this, the platform allowed for gamification, which is meant to raise engagement in terms of watching more panels, visiting virtual booths, and actively reaching out to others, amongst other things.
It’s in the form of a leaderboard that shows who the top few attendees are in terms of being active on the platform.
If you’re competitive by nature, you may be driven to rise in the ranks.
Wild Digital SEA 2020 was hosted on Hubilo, an event analytics platform-turned-virtual events platform just this March.
Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) also used Hubilo for its Malaysia Tech Month 2020 event.
According to Hubilo’s CEO, Vaibhav Jain in a TechCrunch interview, the leaderboard is its most used feature.
I wasn’t particularly motivated by it, but it’s a step in the right direction for increasing the engagement at virtual events.
“B” For Creativity, But “A” For Effort
I’ve definitely seen more creative virtual events out there like Tiger Beer’s virtual food festival and PropertyGuru’s virtual expo, but for a panel-focused event like this, a simpler execution like Wild Digital SEA’s was good.
There’s no doubt that people miss face-to-face events, but I won’t complain if the future trend moves towards more virtual events than physical ones.
They’re just so much more convenient and efficient, and potentially more accessible too, so long as you have a device and decent Wi-Fi/data connection.
If Wild Digital decides to go virtual again in the future (whether COVID-19 related or not), I would personally recommend that attendees prioritise networking and meetings first.
Especially if you were looking forward to doing so, and have limited time between watching the panels and carrying on with your day job.
The panels this time round will be available for the month of November, but the networking and meetings features were closed once the live panels ended (November 6).
- Wild Digital SEA 2020 will still have its panels available to rewatch up until November 30.
- You can still purchase now-discounted tickets to Wild Digital SEA 2020’s virtual event by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org and letting them know of your interest.
- You can read our previous coverage of Wild Digital SEA here.
Featured Image Credit: Patrick Grove, Co-founder & Group CEO of Catcha Group, Wild Digital SEA