Covid-19. The biggest digital disruptor yet.

By Ashley Jouhar | 20th March 2020

First, it was the Geneva Motor Show announcing that their event was being cancelled this year due to the Coronavirus outbreak. This was then swiftly followed by a raft of other trade shows around the world doing the same. The Drum, Europe’s largest media and marketing website has also cancelled this year’s famous pubs at Advertising Week and SXSW events, for fear of accelerating the spread of Covid-19.

Instead, they have both independently taken their events on-line doing ‘digital’ versions of the live event, in much the same way as companies big and small have around the world, working remotely but digitally to keep their businesses afloat.

On the back of the cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show, a number of carmakers have put out ‘digital press conferences’ and ‘live stream’ launches instead. Among them is BMW who are unveiling their i4 electric concept sedan, while Mercedes-Benz is announcing its new E-Class in a similar way. Others are expected to follow suit.

The Drum, meanwhile, is hosting a new global online festival right now called Digital Transformation Week, comprising a packed programme of live-streamed panel sessions, talks, interviews and roundtables over the course of five days. They’ll follow that up by publishing a wealth of content online dedicated to the event.

It should be said that with technology advancing so rapidly, live events and trade fairs were already set to become increasingly digitised and experiential. What seems to have speeded up this process however is the abrupt arrival of Covid-19.

Despite the restrictions that this virus is imposing on us all, the advance in VR and AR, substantial investment and the increasing uptake of VR headsets will have a huge impact on live events as we move forward. The same can be said for its impact on the environment; carbon footprints should decrease dramatically as technology allows events and experiences to come to us, rather than the other way round.

Technology will also allow car manufacturers to engage with a larger audience on a more regular basis, providing experiential opportunities and potentially taking them on a design and manufacturing journey with the carmakers in ‘real’ time.

Like retail stores on any UK high street, consumer footfall is declining in bricks and mortar car showrooms, but ‘live stream’ events could well be the way to reverse this, making the showroom a destination for live and VR experiences that ultimately lead to purchase. Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies can create advanced car configurators that will literally put the consumer in the driving seat of the purchase process, allowing them to experience driving a ‘personalised’ car, in a virtual 360° photographic environment, without actually leaving the confines of the showroom.

Written by Ashley Jouhar – COO at Domeble 

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