First Google and Facebook moved their conferences online.
Yet Apple remained silent.
Finally, we heard from Apple. They didn’t just “move their conference to a virtual conference” but rather, promised a whole new experience considering the shift from in-person to online.
We are delivering WWDC 2020 this June in an innovative way to millions of developers around the world, bringing the entire developer community together with a new experience.Phil Schiller
Interestingly, just after this announcement, Google flat out canceled their event. Apple’s wording of the shift didn’t go unnoticed in the android community, and I suspect I’m not the only one who thinks that companies who only take the in-person event online, without reimagining the possibilities, are making a mistake.
I have no doubt this was a difficult decision. It’s one that many companies, my own included, are wrestling with.
The underlying question though is beyond conferences. When something moves from physical to digital, whether it’s a conference or a credit card, the new digital format opens up new possibilities.
Companies that only think about how to use digital to replicate the “old way of doing things” are going to miss the point. It’s harder work to imagine new capabilities optimized for a new format… but the payoff is important. Not only because digital offers efficiencies that physical formats don’t/can’t, but because companies are competing on experience more than any other criteria, even price!
If you want to understand how to win in whatever world emerges from the virus, you’re going to have to understand how to maximize and personalize for each individual experience you are designing. It’s no longer enough to deliver “one size fits all” (a conference that you can do either in person or online). You’ve got to understand the possibilities each platform / format manifests and take advantage of them to the delight of your attendees / users.
I like to refer to this “look at the possibilities rather than one-size fits all” trend as omniexperience. I’ll be writing more on this as time allows.