In March 2020, Kurt Smith faced a major challenge. As Senior Director, Strategic Events Knowledge Program at ServiceNow, Smith was responsible for spearheading the strategy and execution of Knowledge, ServiceNow’s annual customer conference. But with COVID-19 gripping the world, in-person events were on pause everywhere, and Smith and the team knew that if Knowledge 2020 was going to happen in May, ServiceNow would have to rethink it from the ground up. With that constraint, ServiceNow quickly got to work, pivoting the event into a completely digital conference within six weeks.
In 2021, Smith and the team had the advantage of building Knowledge 2021 as a digital event from the ground up, developing an event that offered a fresh, captivating spin on the B2B conference experience via 145 hours of live and pre-recorded content premiering over two weeks.
One of the most notable hallmarks of ServiceNow’s new approach was the event’s cinematic opening keynote, which inspired viewers by detailing stories of how ServiceNow’s workflow solutions were helping customers build a better world. Instead of the traditional live event “Broadway stage” experience, the team decided to go “Hollywood”—putting a new cinematic focus on the delivery of the keynote.
The Opening Keynote’s “Workflow your world” story was brought to life at the stunning California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The concept of workflowing was visually demonstrated as host Veronica De La Cruz “flowed through” the museum, engaging with several ServiceNow executive visionaries. Captivating customer story videos were interspersed throughout the 30-minute keynote to show how powerful workflows impact daily life.
This new approach was core to the strategy of the event, said Smith. The team wanted Knowledge 2021 to focus less on the company’s product roadmap and more on ServiceNow’s real-world impact. “We didn’t want to spend all of our time talking about our products” Smith explained. “We wanted to talk about the meaningful ways our customers’ solutions are changing people’s lives.”
Another major enhancement was the team’s approach to programming. While many businesses have simply ported the in-person conference experience online by producing the same hour-long keynotes and product demonstrations, ServiceNow produced programming that was short and compelling. Doing so was vital for combating “Zoom fatigue” and keeping viewers engaged. Demo sessions were limited to seven minutes and were filmed with dynamic, slowly panning camera shots that drew viewers in.
While this approach to short segments did force a fundamental change in messaging for executives used to longer sessions, Smith knew that doing so was important to creating a captivating, watchable experience for viewers. This approach also gave the clips a longer shelf life, since ServiceNow was able to re-cut the segments for distribution across various channels.
“Feedback was positive across the board because what we were doing was so different,” said Smith. “Everyone just loved the concise stories and sessions, and the beauty of what we produced.”
To view the Knowledge 2021 Opening Keynote, go to https://knowledge.servicenow.com/.
ServiceNow won four Stevie Awards in The 2021 American Business Awards. They won two Stevie Awards in the category Corporate & Community - B2B Event and two Stevie Awards in Corporate & Community - Employee Engagement Event.
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