Coronavirus is Causing Tech Event Cancellations

Moshe Beauford

Several tech giants have cancelled events, citing rising concerns over COVID-19

Amazon Avaya Cisco Microsoft
Coronavirus is Causing Tech Event Cancellations

Cisco Live! was supposed to be held this week, March 3-6 in Melbourne, Australia, but event organizers canceled the conference, meaning 8,500 would-be attendees remain in their home countries. The same goes for Google, the company said Tuesday, it was canceling I/O 2020, a conference slated to take place May 12-14, along with its Google News Initiative Summit.

Last week, Facebook said it would cancel its annual developer conference F8 due to rising COVID-19 concerns, and was slated for May 5-6. Starting off the trend of tech event cancellation was the mammoth of a conference, Mobile World Congress. The event typically hosts over 100,000 attendees from every corner of the world. GSMA, the minds behind MWC said a few weeks ago, they’d cancel the Barcelona event because of the virus.

Notable tech firms including Nvidia, ZTE, Amazon, Intel, and LG pulled out of the annual event, prompting a swift and full cancelation. RSA, one of the world’s biggest cybersecurity events, went on as scheduled, from Feb. 24-28 in San Francisco. A total of fourteen companies, six from China, did not attend, however, citing concerns over the virus.

Some tech giants have taken what the World Health Organization has yet to classify as a ‘pandemic’ as an opportunity to flex their technology’s muscles. Google said it would make its upcoming Google Cloud Next conference, previously set to take place on April 6-8, a digital conference. In a statement on the conference’s website, Google wrote:

“We are transforming the event into Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect, a free, global, digital-first, multi-day event connecting our attendees to Next ’20 content and each other through streamed keynotes, breakout sessions, interactive learning and digital ‘ask an expert’ sessions with Google teams”

Zoom’s also taking innovative measures, reinventing one of its U.S., events for analysts. The meetup was held yesterday using Zoom’s video conferencing platform. Several sources on Twitter even said Zoom provided lunch for virtual attendees, too. And Microsoft followed suit with its MVP Summit, transitioning the physical networking event into a virtual one. Due to take place on March 16-19, Microsoft avoided any further interruptions by keeping the original dates of the physical conference.

Dozens of conferences have been canceled, moved, or changed to digital events so far. The very fact that these tech companies are agile enough to change their entire conference structure is a real-world application that demonstrates the importance of UC and collab tools that enable remote work and event attendance.

Today, the BBC confirmed case number 87 of the Virus in the UK. And Bloomberg reports, there are over 93,000 confirmed cases around the globe, with over 3,200 deaths worldwide. Numbers are expected to rise once more testing kits make it in the hands of health ministries across the world. As of yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said eight new countries, including Andorra, Jordan, Latvia, Morocco, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Tunisia reported cases of COVID-19.

Tech companies are also instituting travel restrictions along with much-needed work-from-home policies thanks to the Virus. Amazon asked its nearly 800,000 employees to halt all non-essential travel. Google followed suit, then Twitter, Salesforce. Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft told their employees they should also limit all nonessential travel both domestic and abroad. Amazon and Twilio have introduced travel bans but say they will attend Enterprise Connect, with Cisco pulling out of the event altogether scheduled for March 30 – April 2, 2020.

This, as a Google employee in Switzerland, tested positive for the virus, prompting the company to broaden its travel restrictions to China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy, countries all impacted by Coronavirus at a larger scale than the rest of the world.

What has been a real help during these past few weeks, is UCaaS and VCaaS solution providers who have stepped up to offer their services free of charge for the institutions most impacted by Coronavirus disruptions. These systems have also seen a boost in user count. Virtual events like our own UC Summit remain unaffected, and CCW Berlin is also going ahead as scheduled, wrapping up this week. A total of 17 brands, including Five9, however, did not attend.

Here’s a list of impacted tech events and the current status, i.e., canceled, delayed, or ones that will take on a new virtual form:

  • CCW Berlin, Mar 2-5, went on as planned (although 17 brands did not show, including Five9)
  • Customer Contact Week (Asia), March 2-5, postponed until 2021
  • Cisco Live! (APAC/Australia), March 3-6, canceled
  • Zendesk Relate, March 3-5, canceled
  • Cloud Comms Summit, March 5, went ahead as planned
  • Gartner Data & Analytics Summit, March 9-11, postponed
  • Channel Partners, March 9-12, postponed
  • Call and Contact Centre Expo, March 18-19, postponed, September 15-16
  • Oracle Modern Business Experience, March 23-26, postponed, September 21 – 24
  • Digital Transformation Expo (Manchester), March 25-26, postponed, November 4-5
  • Enterprise Connect, March 30-April 2, postponed, now virtual event, August 3-6
  • Google Cloud Next, April 6-8, postponed, date TBD
  • Talkdesk Opentalk, April 22-23, postponed, now virtual event, May 6
  • SpeechTEK / Smart Customer Service, postponed, date TBD
  • UC EXPO, May 13-14, postponed, until September
  • Commsverse, April 29-30, postponed, July 6-7
  • NICE inContact Interactions, May 11-13, canceled
  • Unleash World USA, canceled
  • Chatbot Summit, May 13-15, now a virtual event
  • Genesys Xperience, postponed,  date TBD
  • Verint Engage, postponed,  date TBD
  • Twilio Signal, postponed,  September 30-October 1
  • Cisco Live! (Global/USA), now a digital event, June 2-3

In related news, there are many UC-focused conferences on a global scale still taking place, like the Call and Contact Center Expo held this year in London. The free two-day event will be held on Mar. 18-19 2020 at ExCeL London. Event organizers said they plan to follow guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant local government bodies across the UK. “If the World Health Organization and local/national UK authorities’ advice changes, our position will change. The health and safety of our exhibitors, visitors, and staff, will always be our number one priority,” event organizers told UC Today in a statement.

COVID-19: Ultimate Guide to Free Video Conferencing & Collaboration


March 18-19 – Avaya pull out of Call & Contact Centre Expo event, March 18-19

March 16-18 – Gartner CIO Leadership Forum (UK), canceled

March 16-17 – Gartner Digital Workplace Summit, postponed

March 18-19 – Call and Contact Centre Expo, postponed, September 15-16

March 25-26 – Digital Transformation Expo (Manchester), March 25-26, postponed, November 4-5

April 6-8  – Google Cloud Next, April 6-8, postponed, date TBD

April 22-23 – Talkdesk Opentalk, April 22-23, postponed, now virtual event, May 6

April 29-30 – Commsverse, postponed, July 6-7

May 13-14 – UC EXPO, postponed until September

May 11-13 – NICE inContact Interactions, canceled

May 12 – 13 – Unleash World USA, canceled

May 18-21 – Verint Engage, postponed,  date TBD

September 30-October 1  – Twilio Signal, postponed

May 13-15 – Chatbot Summit, now a virtual event

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