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Oct 04 2011

A new approach to virtual exhibitions

StickyWorld opens up further potential channels for construction products people to engage with specifiers, and could be attractive to exhibition organisers wanting to offer additional services to exhibitors, and extend their event’s reach and value online.

I have done occasional consultancy work over the past couple of years for east London-based Slider Studio, some of it relating to its StickyWorld platform – a collaborative ‘virtual room’ platform that allows richer levels of interaction through use of 360-degree panoramic photography, video and other tools (see ExtranetEvolution blog post, March 2011).

INSITE11

This technology, delivered on a Software-as-a-Service basis and accessible to users through a standard web browser, is this week being used to help extend the reach of exhibitors at BRE’s INSITE11 event in Watford. This two-day event (4-5 October) is showcasing products and services relating to refurbishment and retrofitting, but – as with any event – only a relatively small number of people will be able to spare the time to travel to Hertfordshire to actually see the exhibition. Therefore StickyWorld is being used to capture key information from each exhibitor and make it available online – and not just for the duration of INSITE11, but for weeks and months after the event too.

As a practising architect, Slider Studio’s Michael Kohn has long experience of dealing with product manufacturers and suppliers, and believes StickyWorld can readily be used to carry out conversations in the context of product sales brochures, or project specifications. Dialogue can take place in dedicated ‘Sticky Rooms’, and these can now be embedded in the supplier’s own website, as a professionally focused social media channel. “Using secure private rooms and marking up the documents under discussion with familiar redlining tools, technical sales staff can help the decision-making customer understand their products more fully,” Michael says.

I had a wander around INSITE11/StickyWorld.com this afternoon – without leaving my desk in southeast London. So far 19 different rooms have been populated, ranging from virtual tours of some of the permanent BRE exhibits such as the newly completed Prince’s House and the Victorian Terrace, to product showcases for – so far – 11 firms in the Innovation Zone (Slider Studio people are taking photographs and collating further information for other exhibitors throughout the show), with some of this work funded by the Technology Strategy Board’s Modern Built Environment Knowledge Transfer Network.

Visitors can learn about the technical specification of the buildings from the comfort of their own computers, leave comments or questions using virtual ‘sticky notes’, and review technical information about products featured in the buildings. StickyWorld will create a permanent online archive of information and provide a platform for those unable to attend the live event, either in person or virtually, to follow-up after the event.

Michael said:

“The theme of this year’s INSITE11 is ‘rethinking refurbishment’. This fits nicely with what we do at Slider Studio. We’ve been rethinking ways to communicate and engage people in a more sustainable and energy-efficient built environment.

“From virtual tours of retrofit housing, to our ongoing collaboration with Arup exploring occupant engagement and energy-efficient facilities management, we are extending the flexibility of StickyWorld to support the broadest possible dialogue across the industry, engaging design and construction professionals, clients and end users alike. And we’re now very much looking forward to the dialogue at INSITE11.”

Marketing products to specifiers

It’s a shame this opportunity hasn’t been more widely discussed among marketing people in the construction sector (it would have made a great topic for the recent CIMCIG event on architects and product specification – see Su Butcher’s blog – but I understand, timing-wise, this was just too close for StickyWorld to squeeze in before INSITE11). Nonetheless, I think this use of StickyWorld opens up further potential channels for construction products people to engage with specifiers. For example:

  • Manufacturers and suppliers can use this social application to augment their existing website functionality, and engage with potential customers remotely and in a richer, more visual way than through, say, telephone cold-calling.
  • The investment in an exhibition stand that might only be in place for a couple of days can be extended almost indefinitely by capturing images and content, making it available post-exhibition, and servicing the content with online communication channels.
  • Just as some conferences are now hybrid events – combining face-to-face and virtual meetings and discussion – StickyWorld makes exhibitions into hybrid events – extending the reach to would-be attendees unable to attend in real-life. This might make StickyWorld attractive to exhibition organisers who might want to offer additional services to exhibitors, and help expand the event’s reach and value online, both simultaneously and after the event venue has closed.

1 ping

  1. StickyWorld: From specification to collaboration | Extranet Evolution

    […] my marcoms blog, I bemoan the lack of discussion of StickyWorld among marketing people in the construction sector, […]

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