CES had a more fabulous online presence than offline this year. This was even though nearly 200,000 people went online and only 45,000 were in the real world. One CEO stated that he spent most of his time in a hotel room making Zoom calls. Exuberant dinner parties gave place to room service hamburgers. This dark cloud of events has its bright spots, but there are also many blemishes. The trend of atoms turning into bits continues.
Just for the 6th consecutive year in 35 years, I stayed at home during CES. Most of my friends and coworkers did the same. I tried to keep up with both the CES app as well as the website. They are provided by Web Summit, which hosts the eponymous technology conferences. Paddy Cosgrove (co-founder and CEO) of Web Summit says that he created Summit Engine as a business tool for his project, which he started 10 years ago. More than fifty engineers are currently working on the project. You should take a look at the product. It’s the first thing CES shows you. As with all great technology, you probably didn’t notice it.
Web Summit moved all events to its online software platform following the spread of Covid-19. The venue was developed in-house over a decade. Web Summit was attended by 104,000 people online in December 2020. This allowed the company to feel ready to support CES.
Summit Engine boasts several distinctive features. Summit Engine offers a Mingle feature that allows participants to meet in a video conference-style chat, mimicking the uncertainty of real-world events. Mingle puts Summit Engine’s matching algorithm in motion, placing attendees in a new meeting room with someone every three minutes. I saw five entrepreneurs and executives who were articulate, engaging, and it was all in a blink of an eye. I would be able to make friends with these people. This kind of uncertainty is what people travel worldwide to find.
The app features a handy searchable directory with both individual and company information. The CES app is listed as “social media” under the iOS app store. It struck me as attractive. It made me wonder whether these large-scale conferences, which cover all aspects of the universe, will become persistent communities in this metaverse.
After the United Nations hosted a UN Development Programme Event on Summit Engine on March 20,21, CES became the second global organization that licensed Summit Engine. Summit Engine was present at Web Summit’s first event in person in two years, in Lisbon, Portugal, November 1-4th, 2021.
Paddy Cosgrave is the co-founder of Web Summit and its CEO. “We have been quietly working on Summit Engine for almost a decade. This allowed us to move our physical events online during the pandemic easily. This software can be used to manage every aspect of an event for 100, 100,000, or both online. Jean Foster is senior vice president for marketing and communications at CES. Web Summit will allow CES to reimagine the way we collaborate and convene as an industry by working with it,” Jean Foster, senior vice president of marketing and communications at CES, said.
Summit Engine is not the only competitor. We used Hopin at the VRARA Global Summit, 2021. The most recent round in private funding saw the company valued at $7.95 million. Marketwatch states that online conferencing is expected to double in value by 2027, at US$ 4.21 Billion. Globalization and the widespread adoption of remote working will fuel market growth.