September 28, 2010

Virtual LegalTech- Neat technology but where are my t-shirts and snacks?

Last week I checked out Virtual LegalTech for the second time this year.  In brief, it employed very cool technology and some of the presentations used streaming video and the new technology very effectively.  Others, not so much.  On the bright side, a boring Powerpoint presentation can be put in a smaller window to the side and I can surf the web while the boring speaker drones on.  In person at typical conferences, escaping a boring presentation can be much more challenging.  While some features of a "virtual conference" mirror the real world experience, others are missing.  

If you loiter near a booth, or, even walk by a little to slowly, at a conference, a sales representative will jump out at you, scan your data to get you on an email list, and then strike up a conversation or try to show you their demo and maybe get you on a path towards a sale.  At Virtual LegalTech, you are only bothered by the occasional pop-out chat window asking if they can answer any questions.   Less bothersome to be sure and not a bad way to type hello to a few people you may already know.  And, they already have your name and email.  Do I believe this technology will replace live, in-person conferences?  No.  Business people will always need excuses to network and showcase their wares and trade shows are still the superior showcase.  However, I do believe this technology will reduce the frequency of the live events and perhaps dramatically so.  During the past two years during this dismal economy, everyone involved has noticed an overall decline in attendance.   Virtual conferences have to be significantly more cost effective and that alone will make them an alternative, or an add-on to marketing budgets.  I did hear some excellent presentations and received Continuing Legal Education credits for some of them.  But it is still kind of sad that I attended two of these Virtual LegalTechs and didn't get a candy bar, snack, toy, or even one single t-shirt as a memento.  Maybe as the technology improves...

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