The virtues of the virtual event

Virtual events are becoming the new norm, but getting in front of customers and clients is still important

By Kevin Parker November 22, 2020

Our reliance on virtual events will continue to increase, especially for educational purposes, even after the pandemic is past. Of course, it’s always the sales function that says, “No substitute exists for getting in front of the customer.” And they’re right.

Yet you can’t help but wonder how many businesses have stayed afloat amidst uncertainty when it became clear how drastically they’d reduced their expense of keeping people on planes.

Digital platforms exist for putting on virtual events but Zoom owns the future. In practice it retains many of the characteristics of an intimate, face-to-face encounter, while for the most part promoting greater focus to the task at hand.

Just as some professional sports saw improved game execution and less travel-related fatigue from going to the bubble, so too in some ways virtual meetings are to be preferred.

Happy to see you

This editor recently attended two virtual events from veteran industrial software companies bent on maintaining important relationships with users and customers. These were Connect 2020 from automation supplier, Iconics, and ACCELERATE from infrastructure engineering software company, Bentley Systems.

Founded in 1986, Iconics is one of a handful of seminal SCADA software suppliers. With 375,000 installations worldwide, Russ Agrusa, CEO, president and founder, said, “Iconics today provides a platform for integrating the world of operations technology with that of information technology.”

Besides SCADA, Iconics solutions include for time-series historians, analytics and Internet of Things. The focus is on integration and contextualization, virtualization and analytics, accessed by means of secure web interfaces.

Since 2011, Mitsubishi Electric had a minority stake in Iconics and in August 2019 it acquired the company. As a group company of Mitsubishi Electric with four global development centers, a formidable installed base and strong Microsoft partnership, Iconics has resources to remain competitive in a rapidly changing IT-driven automation sector.

The two of us

Wikipedia says the term “digital twin” was coined by John Vickers of NASA in a 2010 Roadmap report. Regardless, one of the prime proponents of the digital twin concept is Bentley Systems.

According to the company, digital twins enable visualization of infrastructure assets across an entire lifecycle, to track change and perform analysis to optimize asset performance. Digital twins combine engineering, reality and IoT data for a holistic view of infrastructure. Immersive visualization and analytics visibility leads to a deep understanding of infrastructure assets, for better informed decisions.

To support proliferation of the complex technologies involved, the Bentley Systems’ Acceleration Fund was founded in 2020. The fund is chartered to accelerate creation and curation of digital twins, and to nurture new ventures, making minority investment and acquiring digital integrators. Investments to data include in companies Digital Water Works, Digital Construction Works, Virtuosity, and The Cohesive Companies.

It was announced at the event that Norwegian company FutureOn, with its upstream oil & gas collaboration platform, had secured investment from the fund. Combined offerings are already being implemented in exploration and production workflows.

Finally, virtual events today are a big part of the trade media world. In late September, CFE Media & Technology successfully executed its first Virtual Training Week, focusing on topics related to motors & drives, predictive maintenance and IIoT.

Every week, Plant Engineering and Control Engineering stream live educationally focused, wide-ranging webinars in which you’re welcome to contribute your questions and comments.  We hope to see you there.

Author Bio: Senior contributing editor, CFE Media