Wild Digital SEA 2020 Virtual Tech Conference Review

My experience of last year’s Wild Digital SEA event was quite different from this year.

On the one hand, Wild Digital SEA 2020 has gone virtual.

However, tickets still cost between US $ 500 and US $ 800 for individuals, depending on the type of access you wanted at the event.

That meant that one would have pretty high expectations, right?

Every feature was still similar, just turned into an online experience, but that didn’t mean it was an easy effort.

In fact, I would actually say that the virtual Wild Digital SEA 2020 has managed to gather more information than its physical events could.

Virtual panels must remain

One of the most striking features of the event are of course its panels.

Over the course of 4 days (Nov 3-6) about 25-30 panels (a very rough calculation of mine) took place.

A good number of them touched on relevant topics such as digitization and the impact of COVID-19 on the business ecosystem.

Now, here’s why I think I won’t complain if Wild Digital chooses to continue going digital in the future, whether for COVID-19 reasons or not.

To be very honest, I found some of the panels in Wild Digital to be boring, like in the “I might doze off now” kind of boredom.

With it now virtual, I could choose which panels I wanted to watch without worrying that if I didn’t stay in my seat, I would lose access to the show.

Better yet, I could miss the live session and watch it again later at a more convenient time.

I could see him 10 times if I wanted to.

And that, I think, was the biggest benefit of Wild Digital going virtual.

As for the panels themselves, they were fine. There were some interesting ones here and there, but what I found disappointing was that some of them didn’t match their initial summaries.

The speaker (s) and moderator would sometimes go completely off topic and discuss something that in my opinion did not bring much value (in terms of application) to the viewer.

Some directly felt like a business showcase (which is annoying when it’s not a “Spotlight” sign).

Somehow, when it was in person like last year, I felt the panels were a lot more focused.

As for the connection, I didn’t encounter any panels disturbed by bad Wi-Fi, so I think they all worked without a hitch.

More control over meetings

The meetings and networking that take place is another integral part of Wild Digital SEA. You pay for such access even with the base 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 start talking to someone out of the blue.

Maybe you like the surprise, but I’d rather know a little bit more about someone before talking to them. Simple things like a name and what they do, where they work etc.

Here, I was able to go through the participants first and eliminate this information, and then choose who I wanted to meet.

Setting up a meeting was as easy as hovering over their profile picture and hitting “Meet”. Then you would set a time and date for it, and you would just introduce yourself.

Meetings run like a Zoom session, so you can choose to turn off your camera or share a screen.

I liked having this level of control, and I’m more likely to meet more people this way than IRL.

Gamification of engagement

But keeping your audience engaged can be more difficult online, where it’s so easy to get sidetracked by other sites and devices.

To combat this, the platform enabled gamification, which aims to increase engagement in terms of viewing more panels, visiting virtual booths, and actively contacting others, among others.

It’s in the form of a leaderboard that shows who the top participants are in terms of activity on the platform.

Classification

If you are competitive by nature, you might be pushed up the ranks.

Wild Digital SEA 2020 was hosted on Hubilo, an event analysis platform turned virtual event platform just in March.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) also used Hubilo for its Malaysia Tech Month 2020 event.

According to Hubilo CEO Vaibhav Jain in a TechCrunch interview, ranking is its most used feature.

I wasn’t particularly motivated by this, but it’s a step in the right direction to increase engagement at virtual events.

“B” for creativity, but “A” for effort

I’ve definitely seen more creative virtual events like the Tiger Beer Virtual Food Festival and the PropertyGuru Virtual Expo, but for a panel-driven event like this, a simpler execution like Wild Digital’s SEA was good.

People are no doubt missing out on face-to-face events, but I won’t complain if the future trend is towards more virtual than physical events.

They’re so much more convenient and efficient, and potentially more accessible too, as long as you have a device and a decent Wi-Fi / data connection.

If Wild Digital decides to go virtual again in the future (whether related to COVID-19 or not), I would personally recommend attendees to prioritize networking and meetings first.

Especially if you can’t wait to do it and have little time between viewing the panels and your daily work.

The panels this time around will be available for the month of November, but networking and meeting features were closed after the live panels ended (November 6).

  • Wild Digital SEA 2020 will still have its panels available for viewing until November 30.
  • You can still purchase discounted tickets for the Wild Digital SEA 2020 Virtual Event by contacting info@wilddigital.com and letting them know of your interest.
  • You can read our previous coverage of Wild Digital SEA here.

Featured Image Credit: Patrick Grove, Catcha Group Co-Founder and CEO, Wild Digital SEA

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Jothi Venkat

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