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 Experience Article in View From the Edge Magazine

Next January, EdgeCon 2021 will be a virtual gathering to connect leaders from Higher Education, K-12, Government, and Healthcare organizations and inspire discussions of technology breakthroughs and best practices. vConferenceOnline, a virtual event solution, will help bring EdgeCon to life by creating an interactive environment and seamless viewing experience. Stephen Wynkoop, the CEO of vConferenceOnline, Bits on the Wire, Inc., and founder of SSWUG.ORG, has always had a passion for technology and bringing people together online. “I lean heavily into community and I enjoy helping people help each other and have access to the necessary tools they need to succeed,” shares Wynkoop. “Online communities allow people to learn from each other, become friends, and help take everyone’s careers and personal lives to the next level. This thought of embracing community served as the foundational idea behind SSWUG.ORG, a database technology community dedicated to learning and technology.”

Wynkoop founded SSWUG.ORG in 1999 as one of the first cross-platform sites to cover enterprise technologies. Since then, the site has become a go-to resource for articles, classes, and video-based training sessions. “The inspiration for vConferenceOnline, came from SSWUG.ORG,” says Wynkoop. “We were frustrated by the tools that were available for conducting webinars. These options lacked the capabilities to do demonstrations and to learn without a lot of overhead. This challenge led to the genesis of vConferenceOnline and building our own budget-friendly platform.”

Bringing Online Events to Life

The vConferenceOnline platform was built to foster communication and provides a similar experience to what attendees expect from a face-to-face event at a conference center. “You can watch presentations, ask the speaker questions, interact with other attendees in chat lounges, visit exhibit booths, and join round table discussions,” explains Wynkoop. “With multiple rooms and sessions available simultaneously, the experience is very similar to an in-person convention, where you can choose which presentations you are most interested in attending. The platform opens up many possibilities for stimulating, high value content and provides the tools to facilitate a more engaging online event.”

A virtual conference platform is different from a webinar tool in that it is designed to offer the same capabilities as a full-scale in-person event. As most attendees of EdgeCon agree, the networking opportunities are among the most valuable features of the conference. The vConferenceOnline platform has built-in chat capabilities that allow attendees to still connect with each other, discuss pertinent topics, and engage with exhibitors and industry leaders. “I’ve always thought of communities as a kind of conversation,” says Wynkoop. “The chat function lets you see other people’s questions and they can see yours, allowing you to answer back and forth. You will still have the opportunity to make the important connections you highly value from such events.”

Fostering Community and Connection

The vConferenceOnline platform aims to bring people together across desktops and mobile devices, no matter their location. The chat lounge offered through the platform is similar to the lunchroom at an in-person event where attendees can sit down at a table to discuss a specific topic. “With our virtual event solution, you can set up any number of chatrooms to talk about a variety of topics,” says Wynkoop. “An attendee can choose a chatroom from the menu and pop in and out of different conversations. This feature is a powerful way of highlighting areas of interest and allowing people to participate in these topics.”

The platform not only offers several benefits to attendees and speakers, but can provide great opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors to connect with attendees and showcase their organization. “There are a number of options for the exhibit hall, where exhibitors can have videos inside their booths,” explains Wynkoop. “The background design of the booth can be customized to make the atmosphere their own, with places to put posters and banners and advertise in between sessions. Plus, the chat capabilities allow exhibitors to talk to attendees and answer questions.” vConferenceOnline offers many ways for exhibitors to get involved in an event and promote their organization to a wider audience.

Enhancing the Value of Industry Events

Virtual events offer many advantages for attendees, including providing access to a large breadth of content and the opportunity to attend a wider variety of sessions that would not be possible in person. “At an in-person event, an attendee can only be in one place at a time, and you may miss speakers you would really like to see,” explains Wynkoop. “A virtual conference allows a person to catch sessions on-demand, so you will not miss any presentations or discussions that are important to you.”

Adding a virtual component to conferences is likely to become more of the norm going forward, helping to expand the capabilities and reach of such events. “Hybrid events that include both in-person and online opportunities can help expand the attendees’ options for seeing sessions exponentially,” says Wynkoop. “A hybrid event allows the in-person and virtual portions to complement each other—creating a powerful combination.  Organizations can still have on-site meetings, but enhance the value of these events by providing access to virtual sessions following the conference. Exhibitors can get additional exposure, including ongoing promotion during an on-demand session, to help keep their brand top of mind following an event.”

Whether an organization wants to host a virtual conference or a hybrid event, the vConferenceOnline platform can help create a seamless, engaging experience in a cost-effective way. Through a wide variety of options for keynote presentations, training sessions, exhibit halls, and networking opportunities, vConferenceOnline can provide the platform and tools necessary to create an unforgettable event.

Looking to connect with your peers and industry leaders at a dynamic virtual event? Register for EdgeCon 2021 at to attend the region’s premier forum where leaders from Higher Education, K-12, Government and Healthcare organizations will come together to discuss technology breakthroughs and best practices. With the theme of “Vision to Value,” EdgeCon 2021 will provide insights to help you execute on the promise of innovation and transformation through technology.