Will virtual conferences be the new standard?

The current pandemic has shut down a lot of physical conferences, product launches, exhibitions and fairs. Quite a number of them got postponed or even cancelled, but some of them went virtual on the scheduled date.

It’s not a surprise that tech-related conferences and events made the transition from physical- to virtual conference almost seamlessly. In fact, some Linux-events made that transition at a surprisingly fast pace, with the help from the community.

Recession

The current situation is a very good example that life isn’t fully controllable as we might want it to be. Nonetheless, this situation shows that people can adapt quickly to a situation and transforming physical events into virtual ones, is one of those shiny and inventive examples of adaptation.

You might think that these adaptations are temporary and when the Corona crisis is over, we resume life as before. This is where I think the pandemic might change the way we look at life.

When this crisis is behind us, there’s another crisis lurking just around the corner. The one that we all thought we’d already taken care of: Recession!

Even though the main focus at the moment is the virus itself, a lot of companies, freelancers and local businesses are economically paralyzed at this moment and they must have a lot of reserves to survive the effects Corona is causing.

The hard truth is, that a lot of small businesses and freelancers will face tough times or even fall, long after this pandemic will be behind us. Companies and organizations will have to evaluate their budgets to sustain their future and from the recent past, we’ve learned that budget cuts will be made on events like these.

Cuts both ways

I’m not saying that physical events and conferences will completely disappear, but with this forced transition successfully being made, a lot of companies are already rethinking the options.

This can result in less physical events and that certain presentations or even workshops will be held as a virtual event over a physical one. The other thing that most likely will change, is the number of people a company or organization will send or sponsor to attend a physical event. When the number of attendees will decrease for an event, this may result in a company or organization decide to move from platform also.

Although the reasons described as above may seem like a logical evolvement in time, there’s also another reason for the demise in numbers of physical events.

A lot of organizations, especially in the Open-source world, are depending on physical events. To them, those events are not only a community gathering, but most of their revenues are coming from such events to pay staff and infrastructure.

In the most recent events, it is questionable if a lot of such organizations can afford a postponement, let alone plan ahead of their own future. You can say that the decision for organizations and companies moving platform, cuts both ways.

Balancing the scale

People will always want to meet other people and the urge of getting in contact on a physical level will not wipe away all the physical events.

Though, companies and organizations will be selective which events will be held in physical- or virtual form in the near future and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Virtual events are proving their significance, the only thing it has to mature in are the possibilities for smaller and vulnerable organizations (read Open-source projects) that depend on physical gatherings to be able to operate in the future.

It’s undeniable that we can expect an increase in virtual events, balancing the scale in total, since companies and organization will prioritise the significance for a product or project of having either a physical- or a virtual event.

Until we are able to physically meet each other, stay safe and healthy in the meantime.

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