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Most resellers have diaries full of events with vendors and attend partner events on both sides of the Atlantic, but those plans are coming under strain because of the global spread of the coronavirus.
Those get-togethers are not just a chance to hear about the latest developments in partner programmes and where the vendors will be incentivising future activities. but they also provide a good chance for people to network.
The channel has always been a people business and the impact of the coronavirus is already having an impact on the partner event calendar.
HP has become the latest to have to change its plans, deciding that, for safety, it will move mext month’s Reinvent conference in Anaheim to later in the year.
“HP has made the difficult decision to postpone HP Reinvent in Anaheim until early autumn,” said the firm. “According to the World Health Organization [WHO], coronavirus continues to escalate, rather than subside, with widespread implications in multiple countries and markets. We must place the wellbeing of our employees, our partners, and our media and industry analyst community as our number one priority.”
Partners have already seen Mobile World Congress and Intel’s event impacted by the virus. IBM decided it would not attend the RSA security event this week and Fortinet also pulled the plug on its Accelerate partner conference in Barcelona.
Other vendors will be nervously keeping track of the virus’ spread and heeding advice from the WHO and governments ahead of what is a very busy conference season in April and May.
Just this morning, the Geneva Motor Show was postponed until September because the Swiss government ruled out large public events, underlining just how widespread the concern is about the virus. Tech vendors that are delaying events will also look to hold them later in the year, potentially causing competition for attendees at a time when other established events will be held.
However, technology will help vendors continue to get their messages out, with HP using virtual briefings as a way to issue announcements that had been due to come out at Reinvent.
A move towards using more virtual events comes at a time when the use of that technique to communicate information was already on the rise. According to Intrado Digital Media, the last year has seen a 21% increase in virtual events.
As of this month, the number of virtual meetings in China has risen by 193% year on year, while the number of participants logging onto virtual events has shot up by 978% in the past month.
Most of the attention around coronavirus has been its impact on the supply chain, but already industry events are suffering as a result of the bug.
Slimane Allab, EMEA general manager at LLamasoft, said: “While a lot of the focus has been on the short-term supply chain challenges, in the long term, the impact will be felt by consumers as it is expected there will be a wave of further product delays, shortages and cancelled events.”