by Michael Shapiro | January 24, 2011

I'm still processing some of the ideas, announcements and discussions from the recent PCMA Convening Leaders and the Virtual Edge Summit in Las Vegas -- and it's that very process of sifting through my memories and notes that has me thinking now about one of the demos I saw on the Virtual Edge show floor. Tech supplier Altus announced a couple of products they're billing as a "hybrid event solution" -- Event MyStro and Mobile MyStro. The strength of these tools is the way in which they focus on the aggregation and accessibility of content.
And that's really where the company's expertise lies. Altus is known for producing on-demand content solutions, and one of the coolest elements of what they do is the search functionality. For archived video presentations, every spoken word is transcribed and made searchable; in other words, I don't have to watch an entire recorded keynote presentation if I just want to review one particular section. I just enter the appropriate keyword and it takes me directly to the relevant parts of the transcript, and video.
For a hybrid event that I attended in person, then, I can easily consult footage after the fact -- and conveniently search for that part in the general session where the speaker mentioned "social media ROI," for example, or told the story about the "best sushi" he ever had in Schenectady. It's almost like cataloguing and searching one's memory directly, right? Or, once the show has ended, I can search across all of the sessions for "social media ROI" and review not only what I saw, but also what I missed.
That's all potentially pretty useful, but still primarily focused on aggregating content after it's been delivered. Event MyStro and Mobile MyStro are designed to work during the show by offering similarly robust search functionality of seminar descriptions and schedules, and helping attendees quickly find what they need to know. (That sounds pretty dry on paper, but a keyword search that returns nearly instantaneous results to your smartphone based on entering a few letters can be your best friend at an event.) The mobile app runs natively on a wide array of devices, and live streaming video can be viewed on an iPad, because MyStro doesn't use Flash. So, in the case of the latter, you can really be in two places at once at the event -- watching one address on an iPad while attending a different event. Not ideal, in my opinion, but it does open up interesting possibilities. Built-in networking functionality and social media integration also open up opportunities for increased engagement among in-person and remote attendees.
Mobile MyStro is rolling out now, and Event MyStro should be available come March. I look forward to seeing how they are adapted by customers. Obviously, the technology is just a start; it's how these tools are put to use at a conference, particularly with respect to attendee engagement, that could make the experience truly brilliant.