Little did we know when COVID-19 first hit the world over a year ago that in-person events, certainly anything of a global, border-transcending nature, would be struck off the agenda not only in 2020, but also well into this year. At a time when, quite possibly, there has never been a more urgent need to get together and talk. As such, and rather than postponing the event to a pandemic-friendlier period, OPI has decided to hold its ninth Global Forum at the planned time but virtually.
Taking place from 5-6 May 2021, the conference will draw on the rich experience gained from the European Forum Online in November 2020. The premise then was clear – and unanimously applauded by delegates: bring in top-level speakers from within and outside the business supplies industry, cover today’s pressing issues and, as much as possible, do both in a highly interactive way.
Interactive and intimate
A core topic of discussion for everyone right now – attendees themselves or their customers – is the changing workplace. What will it look like and what does it mean for the products and services that need to be provided, in the office as well as the home workspace?
This is how the event will kick off on 5 May. Andrew Mawson of workplace management consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates will shed some light, not hiding behind a PowerPoint presentation, but engaging delegates in a virtual Q&A session which will provide real answers to real questions.
Delving deeper still, this will be followed by a panel discussion featuring a number of high-profile executives from within and outside our sector, including Innovative Office Solutions’ Jennifer Smith and Brother UK’s Phil Jones.
Responding to requests for small breakout sessions, the rest of the day will be spent in various tracks of quick-fire interviews and intimate roundtables. Topics covered comprise industry best-practice success stories, specific vendor themes, B2B e-commerce and marketplace realities, and global shipping and logistics challenges, to name but a few.
To allow delegates to attend more than just one of the tracks and roundtables, these will be repeated the next day. Before that, however, on day two, John Ghiorso is going to impart his vast knowledge learnt at Orca Pacific, the full-service Amazon agency he created to bring cutting-edge strategies and managed services to industry-leading global brands.
While this is another interactive Q&A, it is also the session to sit back, listen, take notes and be amazed by what Amazon strategies can be implemented to achieve sustainable and profitable growth.
Typically, while always having a solid international contingent at the Global Forum, the majority of delegates tend to come from North America, the usual location being Chicago, Illinois. With no considerable financial or time constraints (other than potentially having to attend very early or late depending on where you are), the online nature will make for an excellent geographic spread of attendees, but also for a balanced channel blend where vendors, wholesalers and resellers of varying sizes can learn, mix and mingle.
The last of these – networking – is one of the core components and highlights of OPI’s physical events. Though this can never be truly replicated virtually, delegates will have plenty of opportunities to chat, one-to-one or in small groups, to their peers, exchange ideas and prepare for the – hopefully COVID-free – future.
OPI CEO Steve Hilleard says: “Virtual or not, no other event brings together such a comprehensive audience of industry leaders. We’ve been working on a programme that is on point, provides plenty of practical ideas, and allows delegates to make informed, strategic decisions to ensure their businesses succeed going forward. We’ll do that in two half days and without attendees suffering from severe Zoom fatigue.”