Guest blog: CES 2021 – What Glastonbury could learn from this virtual behemoth...

13 January 2021

Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts_580x280
Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts_580x280

With international consumer electronics show, CES going all-digital for the first time this year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the stage is set for all kinds of live events this year – including world-renowned music & contemporary performing arts festival, Glastonbury.

In this guest blog, James Browne, Director at experts in intelligent self service and virtual communities & events, 4 Roads outlines the main challenges faced by consumer tech show, CES, the role tech is playing in augmenting the virtual events space & his expectations for what’s next...

Having pivoted online for the first time ever, this year's all-digital CES is going to set the stage for all events taking place in 2021, whether that’s corporate behemoths like SXSW or major music festivals like Glastonbury – all of whom are in the midst of re-imagining their digital futures, especially if social distancing continues to be advised.

Emulating the buzz of in-person events is a challenge, but necessity is the mother of invention, and that could not be more applicable to the virtual events space, which has become increasingly sophisticated in recent months.

We’re already seeing the fruits of this at CES, where augmented and virtual reality tech in particular is coming into its own, enabling delegates to interact with new products as easily as if they were there in person. LG even used a virtual influencer to launch its new products.


Meanwhile, quality video conferencing has democratised – and ultimately enriched – the experience for delegates and presenters, by offering access to business and thought leaders across the globe who may have previously been inaccessible, whether due to professional commitments or otherwise.

The virtual nature of this year’s CES has also allowed organisers to extend its life. Everything will be kept online for 30 days, which means visitors can consume content at their own leisure, and access events or talks that they may not have had time to in person. It was even pushed back a week – a move that would have caused havoc with diaries if happening in person.

The element of virtual events that I’m really excited to see develop over the course of this year is social engineering – to replicate those serendipitous and career-defining networking moments, that usually take place by the water cooler or over the buffet counter.

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