CGI Technologies’ 71,000 professionals in 40 countries provide end-to-end IT and business process services that facilitate the ongoing evolution of their clients’ businesses, with high-end IT and business consulting, systems integration, application development and management, infrastructure services and IP-based solutions.
For years CGI had held its annual Client Technology Forum. The event was well-attended, drawing 400 to 600. But for the 2011 Forum, registration lagged and CGI decided to cancel the event three months out. Sami Boudriga, Director of IT and Consulting, who is in charge of the event, attributed the decline to budget cuts, “Times were difficult and companies were not spending money.”
The Forum is approximately 50% a lead generation vehicle and 50% new product education. CGI didn’t want to forego this opportunity and began to seek alternatives that wouldn’t require travel yet maintain the interactivity that’s integral to the experience.
Boudriga had a basic awareness of virtual events. “I knew technology was evolving at the speed of light, and we felt we had to evolve our events. So, I contacted West Unified Communications Services about their virtual environment platform hoping that could resolve our issue,” he recalled.
With only two months to prepare (recommended preparation time is four months), the CGI and West teams worked at full bore to make the vision a reality. CGI’s strategy was to mirror the physical event as closely as possible. The entire event would be live. Sessions would be recorded and made available five minutes later, so no one would miss any of the 32 sessions even if they had run concurrently.
With the objective to maximize the interactivity of the attendee experience, they created a feature-rich environment. “We pushed it and leveraged 99% of the features,” Boudriga said. They utilized West’s self-service module and leveraged components such as graphics, video playing in booths, messaging and reminders, collateral and many more. “I was very impressed with the turnout, quality and features. It felt like we were in an actual event!”
Following the event, sales increased 35%. More than 1,400 attendees joined the live event, with 300 more attending the archived version. At times, some booths had more than 30 visitors. CGI was able to gain exposure deeper in customer organizations than they had before, to reach more influencers as well as decision makers: business owners, functional leaders and technical titles.
Unlike their physical event, CGI was able to track every attendee’s behavior and engagement in order to score leads for follow-up. They saw what content they downloaded, events they attended, Q&A and poll responses, chat participation, what sections they visited, how long they stayed in each place, whether they left and returned. “The virtual event cost us approximately 20% of the price of an in-person event. We doubled in penetration and increased our sales by over 35%.” Sami Boudriga Director of IT and Consulting Advantage Service Line CGI Technologies