I’ve just come off a week of successfully helping a customer run a Microsoft Teams Live Event for an annual event they run. The nature of the event they ran last week was to showcase innovation by the IT department to the rest of the organisation. This was the 5th such event being run in as many years.
This specific event was actually part of a broader effort. It was a test of the Microsoft Teams Live Events function ahead of further potential use. The context was an executive sponsorship program with the CIO as a lead executive from the customer.
We had started this executive program a few months previously. This included senior executive involvement from Microsoft to match the customer executive and provide mentorship based on Microsoft’s success with related activities.
The Executive Sponsorship program was itself a subset of the customers Digital Workplace program. The purpose of the Executive Sponsorship program is to connect executives with employees and to help drive the culture change needed for the new Digital Workplace program to succeed.
Supporting the innovation event by live streaming key elements of it was seen as a good test case for use of new technologies. It could also broadly be seen to be a test of the following:
- Executive communications as a driving force for culture change and to drive employee engagement. Microsoft use it thus: Improving employee engagement with live events in Microsoft 365.
- A way to break down silos (in the case of this customer, between first line workers and office workers and across geographic boundaries).
- A way for a department to showcase work within its boundary as well as with other parts of the business. Again an approach Microsoft takes: How Microsoft uses live events in Microsoft 365 to run large virtual meetings.
- A learning exercise through the sharing, discussion and recording of innovative or new work to a broader audience. Microsoft always live stream key events such as Ignite and Ready where we talk about new releases, strategies and messaging – see Ignite on demand sessions for example.
In most ways I would say the customer nailed it and these broad objectives. There were some exceptions. Not because they were tried and failed but because they were omitted on this occassion.
For instance, the event was successfully live streamed but there was no discussion or interaction during the live stream. This was consciously left out only because it would have added an element of complexity which would be better handled at a later stage of proficiency. Once again, at Microsoft this is a key component of our Live Events and broader efforts at culture change (see part way down this article): How Microsoft Builds a Sense of Community Among 144,000 Employees.
We had superb feedback from many of the employees and participants. The next stage is to consider doing an all company live event with the CEO engaging with employees.
1. Professional broadcasting equipment and capability. We used a Microsoft partner, Comworks, who brought their own equipment and they most definitely brought some hard core capability. The capability was both from a Microsoft Live Event point of view (the actual running of the event using the tool) as well as filming. These are both important especially the latter when you consider quality of the footage (video and audio) and wanting to use the recorded footage for other purposes as we did. You can run a Live Event with just a PC and its limited video and audio capability – it just depends on the purpose of the event.
2. The core streaming interface: Microsoft Teams Live Events. There is a lot of documentation on this so I’ll just point you to a good starting place. This page shows how Live Events can be started from multiple applications (Microsoft Teams, Yammer or Stream). For this article and indeed the test case I am writing about we focused on Microsoft Teams as the Live Events interface. In terms of core streaming technology, the underlying platform is Azure.
Important to note: include a test event before the first real live event as we did. We ran into some administrative/permission issues which were quickly resolved. And in terms of availability to users who may not have access to Microsoft Teams or any of the other tool interfaces, you can run a public event as we did to overcome that (more here).
3. Important supporting technology: Hive Streaming. The customer partnered and integrated Hive Streaming technology to scale and offer frictionless video delivery and end-user experience.
Hive Streaming offers a unified SaaS solution for Live, VoD, testing with advanced reporting and analytics such as Hive Insights and Hive VI engagement index capabilities with network offload up to 99%. Some generic screenshots from them below
4. A good agenda for the live streaming part of an event. A pretty obvious point for any event. Here I make it specifically in relation to events that are happening in a physical location and only part of that is being live streamed as we did. There is a limit to the duration of Microsoft’s Live Events to be aware of (4 hours) when there is an all day event.
But I am speaking more about what part will be of interest to viewers and how live streaming will make that come alive for them. For instance, in my event last week there was an opening ceremony with short speeches from the CIO and other executives and then immediately a dive into interviews and demo’s of the main innovations being showcased. At the end there was a wrap up session. This was live streamed and included brief interviews of the main innovators in terms of the feedback they received from visitors and executives.
5. Cost saving
By this I mean can you establish whether something like Live Events from Microsoft can save you money. This applies to the software part especially. If you are paying for O365 already, of which Live Events is a part, then you can avoid costly expenses from using third party software that non Microsoft partners may be using to help run your live events. Check out licensing requirements here if interested. This was the case in my customer example.
Hoping this was of value. I may add to this over time as I plan more such activities with customers. Hit me up with a comment if you have any queries.