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Sourabh Kothari, Senior Manager,Global Virtual Events at Cisco Systems

  |   Interviews

Sourabh Kothari, Senior Manager Global Virtual Events at Cisco Systems, has managed over 1000 webinars and 100 virtual events to attendees across six continents. He tells us about it below:

About Cisco

Founded in 1984, Cisco today has over 63,000 employees around the world, and a turnover of over $11.3 billion.

Cisco globally designs, manufactures, and sells Internet Protocol (IP)-based networking and other products that are related to the communications and information technology (IT) industry. They provide services associated with these products and their use. Cisco also provides a broad line of products for transporting data, voice, and video within buildings, across campuses, and around the world. Their products are designed to transform how people connect, communicate, and collaborate. Their products are installed at enterprise businesses, public institutions, telecommunications companies and other service providers, commercial businesses, and personal residences.

About Sourabh

 

Since 1988, Sourabh has managed over 1,000 webinars and 100 virtual events to attendees across six continents and he continues to drive innovation and seamless online experiences for global audiences.

As part of the Global Events team, Sourabh manages virtual events across Cisco on a global basis.

Prior to joining Cisco, Sourabh built the Client Services Support and Virtual events teams at ON24. Prior to ON24, Sourabh worked at Merrill Lynch where he delivered road shows, press conferences, analyst briefings, training seminars and large-scale marketing events across Asia and the US.

Sandra Malone, Director of Marketing for Marketingmoves, interviewed Sourabh.

 

SM: Hi Sourabh, thanks very much for agreeing to speak to Marketingmoves. Give me a five-minute summary of your career.

SK: Hi Sandy. I was in Sales before I was in Marketing, and with an economics and Finance background, I know how to build recognition and close a deal.  I was contracted by Merrill Lynch to deliver video conferencing at time when there wasn’t such a thing as web casting and email had a 10Meg limit. It was really a big deal to host multi-media on line. Merrill Lynch transferred me to New York and by the time I moved on, I was delivering full- blown virtual events.

At Cisco, I try to guide people away from over kill. We’ve got a highly motivated audience who are looking for great content, not 3D experiences.

SM: Your LinkedIn profile cites ON24, which delivers highly customised events for strategic clients, tell us what happened there for you.

SK: ON 24 were the leaders in virtual events and I believe my work there helped us to attain that position. I enjoyed my work at ON24, but there was a point where I decided it was the right time to move on. In your career, there are moments when you know that you won’t be able to learn more and it’s at this point you need to demonstrate a bit of bravery, first with yourself and then with others. Telling the CEO that I felt I needed new challenges was tough.

SM: You’ve been a pioneer in the advancement of virtual events and you’re well known throughout the industry for being truly innovative. Tell us about the audiences who benefit the most from virtual events.

SK: The audiences that benefit the most from virtual events are highly motivated in the first place. They are making choices to come to your event based on the knowledge that your content will benefit them and will outweigh the disadvantages of taking time away from other work critical tasks. We’ve got to make it easy for people to engage with us and then of course, we need to ensure that the content is relevant. Events can be expensive and apart from the power point pack that might follow the event, the activity itself has no shelf life.  The event itself was the destination. With a virtual event, the experience will remain relevant for longer. In the digital world, an event is a milestone and the destination is on going, it is part of a fluid customer journey.

SM: Can you describe a typical industry virtual event?

SK: On the face of it, digital events that are slick and professional as you enter the event often give a ‘wow’ factor with lots of bells and whistles. You may enter a lobby, move to briefing rooms and so on, but soon, you find that each location requires dozens of clicks. Once you’re inside the programme world, it’s like a walled garden-everything is great. That is, until you want to move away to access other content and you then have to leave the 3D environment and re-register! From the technical view point, an arrangement such as this often means that you need to hand over customer data to 3rd party platforms.

That’s a fundamental loss, the loss of reporting data against the perceived benefit of a ‘cool’ experience.

At Cisco, we believe a good virtual event starts with the relevant content and the ease of accessing that content. Of course, the total experience is important, but because we can host the event ourselves on our own platforms, we are in a position to really analyse what customers require from our virtual events and as a result, we are constantly developing virtual events for groups of customers that want innovation and access in equal measures.

SM: In marketing, there are always internal pressures, challenges and politics. Sometimes getting internal buy in can be more difficult than selling a marketing idea externally!

SK: You’re right! In virtual events, there is a continual tension between people on whether it’s a good idea to create events that will attract awards and/or the creation of events that will deliver bottom line revenue.  Beware of clean, bright shiny objects! I’ve been extremely fortunate with Cisco who unwaveringly supports innovation for on-line engagement, so we have been in the position to innovate and make a financial contribution.

SM: Finally, what’s the ‘future’ of communications?

SK: As our CEO John T. Chambers has said, it’s video and mobile from a technology perspective and that’s what we’re focusing on in developing our virtual events.

SM: Sourabh, many thanks for your t 

About Cisco

Founded in 1984, Cisco today has over 63,000 employees around the world, and a turnover of over $11.3 billion.

Cisco globally designs, manufactures, and sells Internet Protocol (IP)-based networking and other products that are related to the communications and information technology (IT) industry. They provide services associated with these products and their use. Cisco also provides a broad line of products for transporting data, voice, and video within buildings, across campuses, and around the world. Their products are designed to transform how people connect, communicate, and collaborate. Their products are installed at enterprise businesses, public institutions, telecommunications companies and other service providers, commercial businesses, and personal residences.

About Sourabh

 

Since 1988, Sourabh has managed over 1,000 webinars and 100 virtual events to attendees across six continents and he continues to drive innovation and seamless online experiences for global audiences.

 

As part of the Global Events team, Sourabh manages virtual events across Cisco on a global basis.

 

Prior to joining Cisco, Sourabh built the Client Services Support and Virtual events teams at ON24. Prior to ON24, Sourabh worked at Merrill Lynch where he delivered road shows, press conferences, analyst briefings, training seminars and large-scale marketing events across Asia and the US.

 

Sandra Malone, Director of Marketing for Marketingmoves, interviewed Sourabh.

 

SM: Hi Sourabh, thanks very much for agreeing to speak to Marketingmoves. Give me a five-minute summary of your career.

 

SK: Hi Sandy. I was in Sales before I was in Marketing, and with an economics and Finance background, I know how to build recognition and close a deal.  I was contracted by Merrill Lynch to deliver video conferencing at time when there wasn’t such a thing as web casting and email had a 10Meg limit. It was really a big deal to host multi-media on line. Merrill Lynch transferred me to New York and by the time I moved on, I was delivering full- blown virtual events.

 

At Cisco, I try to guide people away from over kill. We’ve got a highly motivated audience who are looking for great content, not 3D experiences.

 

SM: Your LinkedIn profile cites ON24, which delivers highly customised events for strategic clients, tell us what happened there for you.

 

SK: ON 24 were the leaders in virtual events and I believe my work there helped us to attain that position. I enjoyed my work at ON24, but there was a point where I decided it was the right time to move on. In your career, there are moments when you know that you won’t be able to learn more and it’s at this point you need to demonstrate a bit of bravery, first with yourself and then with others. Telling the CEO that I felt I needed new challenges was tough.

 

SM: You’ve been a pioneer in the advancement of virtual events and you’re well known throughout the industry for being truly innovative. Tell us about the audiences who benefit the most from virtual events.

 

SK: The audiences that benefit the most from virtual events are highly motivated in the first place. They are making choices to come to your event based on the knowledge that your content will benefit them and will outweigh the disadvantages of taking time away from other work critical tasks. We’ve got to make it easy for people to engage with us and then of course, we need to ensure that the content is relevant. Events can be expensive and apart from the power point pack that might follow the event, the activity itself has no shelf life.  The event itself was the destination. With a virtual event, the experience will remain relevant for longer. In the digital world, an event is a milestone and the destination is on going, it is part of a fluid customer journey.

 

SM: Can you describe a typical industry virtual event?

 

SK: On the face of it, digital events that are slick and professional as you enter the event often give a ‘wow’ factor with lots of bells and whistles. You may enter a lobby, move to briefing rooms and so on, but soon, you find that each location requires dozens of clicks. Once you’re inside the programme world, it’s like a walled garden-everything is great. That is, until you want to move away to access other content and you then have to leave the 3D environment and re-register! From the technical view point, an arrangement such as this often means that you need to hand over customer data to 3rd party platforms.

 

That’s a fundamental loss, the loss of reporting data against the perceived benefit of a ‘cool’ experience.

 

At Cisco, we believe a good virtual event starts with the relevant content and the ease of accessing that content. Of course, the total experience is important, but because we can host the event ourselves on our own platforms, we are in a position to really analyse what customers require from our virtual events and as a result, we are constantly developing virtual events for groups of customers that want innovation and access in equal measures.

 

SM: In marketing, there are always internal pressures, challenges and politics. Sometimes getting internal buy in can be more difficult than selling a marketing idea externally!

 

SK: You’re right! In virtual events, there is a continual tension between people on whether it’s a good idea to create events that will attract awards and/or the creation of events that will deliver bottom line revenue.  Beware of clean, bright shiny objects! I’ve been extremely fortunate with Cisco who unwaveringly supports innovation for on-line engagement, so we have been in the position to innovate and make a financial contribution.

 

SM: Finally, what’s the ‘future’ of communications?

 

SK: As our CEO John T. Chambers has said, it’s video and mobile from a technology perspective and that’s what we’re focusing on in developing our virtual events.

 

SM: Sourabh, many thanks for your time



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