For Microsoft Build, Microsoft’s annual showcase event geared toward developers each May, the most tantalizing draw for attendees has always been the opportunity to connect in-person with industry leaders and peers. From shaking hands and touching screens, to demoing new tech and attending crowded after parties—for the roughly 6,000 people who travel to the conference from all over the world, Microsoft Build can be a life-changing experience.
But what happens when physical attendance is taken out of the equation? When COVID-19 crashes the party, what is a conference left with? Turns out, a lot. And in the case of Microsoft Build 2020, which took place in the early days of quarantine, a lot more—as in more than 190,000 online-only attendees, by far the biggest audience in the event’s 10-year history.
Suddenly, here we are one year later, partnering with Microsoft to prepare for Build 2021—which again will be online-only. For us here at Wunderman Thompson, it’s been an incredible 14 months of quick pivots, rapid transitions, mind-blowing learnings, and emotional celebrations. And not just because of Microsoft Build, because of our work on all of Microsoft’s flagship events that have gone online-only: Game Stack, Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft Inspire, and more.
And so, on the eve of the anniversary of Microsoft’s first online-only event, we wanted to take a look back at some of the game-changing things we’ve learned here at WT.