HP Inc. says it will move to “virtual engagement models” for all of its events running through the end of October, including the Reinvent 2020 partner conference.
The conference had already been postponed until the fall from its original date of March 24-26, as one of countless tech events impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Now, the PC and printer maker says Reinvent will be among the events that will go entirely virtual, in some form. All HP events through the end of the company’s fiscal 2020, which ends Oct. 31, are moving to virtual formats, HP disclosed Thursday.
HP had described Reinvent 2020 as a “World Partner Forum,” and the Reinvent conference has attracted hundreds of partner attendees in past years.
Christoph Schell, chief commercial officer at HP, said the specifics are still being finalized for Reinvent–and that there might not be just one virtual event for all partners.
“It might not be a single Reinvent meeting. We might have different virtual meetings in the different markets, localizing it a little bit,” Schell said in an interview with CRN. “That’s one of the advantages that virtual meetings give you. We’re still thinking about how to do it, but there will of course be touch points with our partners. We need to have that.”
Juan Fernandez, vice president of managed IT services at Oklahoma City, Okla.-based ImageNet Consulting, is a past attendee of Reinvent and said he will miss the social element of the in-person conference. But he expects the virtual event will still bring a lot of value.
“I always enjoy the energy you get from being there [in person], creating new connections. I will miss that,” Fernandez said. “But it’s the responsible thing to do. And truth be told, I find that you can still be very productive in those types of virtual environments.”
In fact, the shift to virtual conferences opens up the possibility of bringing new innovation to virtual meetings–to get them closer to the “captivating” experience of in-person events, he said.
“I think that we need to innovate in a way that’s going to make events captivating in a virtual environment,” Fernandez said. “As human beings, we’re very creative. I can’t wait to see see what it is exactly that comes out. I have a feeling that it will be amazing. It’s going to be fun.”
In a news release Thursday, HP said that upcoming events through the end of its fiscal 2020 will transition to “virtual engagement models to deliver a sustained drumbeat of curated news and information and networking opportunities, leveraging both internal and external voices.”
HP said it’s planning for Reinvent to return as an in-person conference in the spring of 2021 in Toronto.
On Thursday, HP also rolled out an array of relief measures to its channel partners, which are meant to help improve their financial stability during the current period of economic upheaval.
The initiatives, which cover both personal systems and print, include market incentives and more-predictable rebates, as well as deadline extensions for partner reporting.