Highlights of the 2020 Virtual Summit For Workforce Management

Virtual Summit 1

When news of the pandemic and the shelter-at-home orders came out this spring, we were so disappointed to have to cancel the SWPP Annual Conference in downtown Nashville scheduled for late March.   After 17 years of conferences that provided such great opportunities for networking, education, and fun, we couldn’t bear the thought of not getting together with our big family of workforce professionals.   Therefore, the idea of the Virtual Summit was born.

We wanted to deliver as much of the live conference experience as possible so we worked hard to assemble a calendar full of activities that would be the next best thing to being at the live event.

Most of our registrants attended the Virtual Summit from their home offices.  Everyone had a Welcome Box delivered to their home with a package full of literature, reference materials, and many of the fun items typically picked up at the Sponsor Showcase.

The Summit kicked off on August 3 with a Roadmap session that took a trip down memory lane with photos and commentary, along with a layout of what to expect and how to use the conference app and all the conference web site features. This opening session introduced the session hosts, along with greetings from many of our SWPP Board of Advisors.  This session was followed by the annual ceremony announcing the WFM Professional of the Year with this year’s winner revealed to be Sharon Jones of National Debt Relief.

What was a jam-packed three-day event in Nashville became a month-long virtual event, with a minimum of three workshops delivered every single workday in August.  There were 70 sessions in total, and we are so grateful to the many speakers who were scheduled for the in-person conference that agreed to deliver over the virtual platform.

Many of the topics planned for the March event were altered substantially to provide attendees with stories, tips, and strategies of how to respond to the staffing changes that have happened in the last six months. Some of these topics included:

  • WFM in an Era of Pandemic and Work from Home
  • Remote Working in a 24×7 Global Center
  • Lessons Learned from Leading in a 99% Virtual Center
  • Understanding What Your Agents are Thinking
  • Seven Ways Covid Has Affected My WFM Role

Many conference attendees noted the benefits of the spaced out schedule. Rather than having to choose from multiple sessions offered simultaneously at the live event, only one session was delivered at a time.   Therefore, attendees had the opportunity to attend every single session of the Virtual Summit.  And many of them did just that!  And those that missed a session were able to access recordings of the session on the conference web site for several more weeks.

Attendees were also able to see the latest and greatest in technology offerings from industry vendors. All our vendor sponsors (Aspect, NICE WFM, NICE EEM & ESR, Verint, Authority Software, Call Design, CommunityWFM, Genesys, Serenova, Calabrio, ICMI, injixo, and Intradiem) had a virtual booth in the Sponsor Showcase where attendees could see product demos, pick up literature and white papers, and register for giveaways. Each sponsor also had a Showcase session in the agenda to demonstrate new products and discuss development plans and some also hosted Behind Closed Doors sessions with current customers.

While it was hard to replicate the nights out in downtown Music City, we did manage to have some fun and parties as part of the Virtual Summit.  During the Virtual Happy Hour events, there were lots of trivia games and other fun activities, including some music by our very own Board Member, Todd Gladden.  And I think most attendees would rate Virtual WFM Jeopardy as their favorite conference activity with a heated match up until the very last question!

August was a busy month, but as we look through conference evaluation forms, we’re certain it was worth it.

Thanks to all who participated in this virtual event!  We hope to all be together in Nashville in 2021, but now we know that we can successfully connect virtually!

Here are just a few of the comments from the Virtual Summit attendees:

“I liked that it was spread out over a month. It gave time to digest information and I never felt like it was information overload and won’t forget to put things into practice.”

“The sessions were so relaxed, much more feeling of family and getting to know about people.  Greatly appreciated the fact I didn’t have to choose between which sessions to attend as they were all independently scheduled.  I would hope that more of this is to come!”

“This is by far the best conference both in person and virtually.”

“I loved being able to attend the conference while I work my normal responsibilities. I’m not sure if my company would have paid for me to fly out, but they were willing to let me do this! It made it a full month, but it was so full of learning! I also loved that I could go back and watch ones I missed. I’ve downloaded all the sessions for my team to be able to listen to as well. I also loved hearing from all different types of contact centers and the ‘best practices’ people have found. Overall it was amazing. Well done!!”

“Hearing from peers about the direction of the WFM industry is valuable.  I always walk away from the event with ideas and things to think about that I hadn’t considered previously. It also provides a barometer for us in terms of our evolution as a WFM team.”

“The attendees and hosts are passionate about Workforce Planning/Management, and it really helped to make the conference successful.”

“Lots of participants from diverse industries and various global locations.”

“It was well organized and I felt like every presenter was prepared and truly looked to provide value in their sessions.”

“An in-person conference can be cost and time prohibitive due to travel costs and time. The virtual conference made it accessible