Cisco Aims to Facilitate Events Suited for the Post-Pandemic World

Summary Bullets:

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G. Willsky

• Socio’s platform enables execution of hybrid events spanning in-person and virtual attendees.

• Event organizers benefit disproportionately from the platform as compared to meeting attendees.

In May 2021, Cisco announced its intention to acquire Socio Labs, an event management platform provider. The acquisition is expected to finalize in Cisco’s Q4 fiscal year 2021 (May-July) subject to customary closing conditions and required regulatory approvals. Cisco declined to reveal the value of the transaction.

Socio’s platform enables execution of hybrid events mixing in-person and virtual attendees. As the end of the COVID-19 pandemic draws nearer, “hybrid” has emerged in the lexicon to represent a new normal in the workplace – a blending of in-office and virtual employees. Cisco’s new events capability is a corollary to that reality.

Once equipped with the Socio platform, Cisco will expand its Webex Events offer beyond meetings, webinars and webcasts to include large-scale, multi-session events and conferences. Such affairs are reminiscent of the pre-COVID world when no one thought twice about jetting to destinations near and far to join scores of others crammed into hotel venue rooms or convention centers. Socio’s platform reflects today’s need for some to join from the comfort and solitude of a home or office while others navigate crowds while traversing institutional carpeting under their feet.

Socio’s features span activities conducted before, during, and after events. These range from registration, ticketing, and agenda building to audience engagement plays such as polls and Q&A sessions (leveraging Cisco’s recently acquired technology from Slido) to post-event analysis. Other capabilities already inherent in Cisco’s Webex platform come into the fold such as background noise removal, immersive sharing, and real-time translation.

So how worthy of accolades is Socio? Somewhat. For meeting attendees, it is business as usual (albeit a relatively new “usual”). Virtual attendees do enjoy a more gripping meeting experience by virtue of the various bells and whistles inherent in the platform but those are fast becoming the norm. Meanwhile, most of the technology Socio brings to the table eludes on-site attendees. For them, they simply return to a time before virtual events existed. In comparison to attendees, event organizers disproportionately benefit. Socio facilitates ticketing, registration, and post-event analytics. In doing so, Socio provides rich data to assess the value an event generated for attendees which can then be weighed against the expense incurred in hosting it. Over time, companies can sponsor increasingly more valuable and more cost effective events. Bottom line, the Socio platform provides real benefits but they are heavily skewed towards event organizers and quickly becoming table stakes as the world turns hybrid.

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