Databricks Data + AI Summit 2021
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Give us an overview of the event and what made it so successful?
TData + AI Summit 2021 is, first and foremost, an event for the data community – an opportunity to have as much content as possible that both offers thought leadership presentation though keynotes, as well as deep, hands-on instructor led (with TA support) training. From the first two days of training for the data community, the Summit evolves into 200 sessions+, multiple industry forums, and more, that help target content to whoever are looking for it in regard to Data and AI. Data + AI Summit 2021 is important for helping attendees learn from industry professionals, companies from all sizes, and other like-minded professionals in the community.
Focusing on community, the Databricks Experience offered a “space” for our customers with curated content and engagement that made us able to build out a great conference different from previous years. Databricks stayed true to the fact that content is key for the conference, and MeetingPlay rose to the challenge to create an entire new UX design for the Databricks Experience.
Ultimately, the amount of attendees, the custom platform and unique design elements, and the overall performance of the event platform for the virtual attendees, puts Data + AI Summit 2021 as one of Databricks most successful events to date. This event successfully raised the bar for their data professionals, having had such a successful virtual event in 2020, they really wanted to ensure their event was bigger and better and fresh for their customers. They managed to do that, especially by incorporating the Databricks Experience within the platform.
What were your event's main objectives and goals?
Databricks committed to a week-long, global virtual event due to the pandemic, looking to adjust to the new way of working and hosting events. The Data + AI Summit 2021 (formally named Spark + AI Summit) boasted free entry and was hosted in an effort to unite the data community through highly technical content, presented by leading experts, plus a full slate of hands-on training workshops for everyone from data engineers to data scientists to machine learning engineers and business leaders.
Having the event virtually lent itself to reaching a wider audience not only through specific personas, but globally. We broadened our reach and expanded our audience, while also keeping with the times in a virtual environment. From the first two days of training for the data community, the Summit evolves into 200 sessions+, multiple industry forums, and more, that help target content to each specific attendee. Data + AI Summit 2021 is important for helping attendees learn from industry professionals, companies from all sizes, and other like-minded professionals in the community.
What platform / technologies did you use and why?
As the organizers, Databricks wanted to level up from their events in past years. They wanted to be able to offer various experiences and offer fresh content to their audience. As the conference grows, so does the complexities for the event, and they used MeetingPlay as their virtual event platform based on last year’s Spark + AI Summit 2020's virtual success.
As far as content management goes, they embarked on partnering with Cvent. The partnership offered a challenge due to the complexities of the content and agenda management. In response, MeetingPlay built out custom components to keep content fresh, offering a “space” for attendees, called the "Databricks Experience", that boasted curated agendas and playlists to industry solutions and expert help. The Databricks Experience was a custom build from MeetingPlay and resulted in higher engagement across the event’s duration.
How did you go about attracting your audience?
After 7 successful years of hosting the Spark + AI Summit, the Databricks team changed the event’s name to the Data + AI Summit 2021. The change was based on positioning the event as the premier data and AI event for the tech community, in addition to connecting more to their global audience. This helped them to broaden their horizons and continue to market through paid ads, select partnerships and exhibitors, and more.
This Summit was an opportunity for Databricks to increase their brand awareness to global audiences and build fresh content that connects with customers and tech attendees alike. Balancing the two in a virtual space was a huge priority for them and it definitely showed through the content they offered, variety of speakers they brought in, and the entirety of the Databricks Experience. Stunning ads run through digital channels, in addition to powerful YouTube ads, were among the many successful marketing tactics for the event, proving successful by bringing in over 60,000 registrations.
The virtual platform offered a variety of sponsor real estate to sell. The Databricks Experience is the “DevHub”, which combined product announcement content, hallway chatter, and the “solutions theater” which broadcasted content 24/7 throughout the event. At any point, an attendee could tune in to watch live content or pre-recorded content from sponsorship or exhibitors. The Databricks Experience allowed attendees to connect with Databricks sponsors, on-demand content, live content, forums, one-on-one chats, and social walls.
What were your success metrics?
The overall event result was deemed a big success. The event brought in 60,812 registrations and saw a 50% attendance rate - 5% higher than the average attendance rate for virtual conferences in 2021. Even more telling, the Net Promoter Score sits at a whopping 66-70 range (as of June 16th, 2021, this information is still becoming available). This is double the industry benchmark for a live streaming environment. Attendees are continuing to interact with the event’s content in the open virtual environment, equipped with the event’s sessions available on demand until June 28th. The continued participation after the official event is telling in that the platform is engaging and offers relevant content to Databricks’ customer base.
What lessons did you learn for the future?
The event proved that curated content and conversations are still top of mind, if not a major necessity, for event attendees. Data + AI 2021 offered a rich attendee experience to everyone who entered by creating a truly unique and customized journey for each attendee. For future conferences, there is a much greater desire to shift to a hybrid event model to continue the engagement into a live environment, while also keeping the virtual component available for global and at-home attendees. There are huge advantages for virtual (preloaded content, on-demand content, etc) and how to combine that with an in-person event will be their next challenge. They will take what worked well in the virtual space, and do what they can to integrate into the hybrid environment.