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First Ever VIRTUAL Markit Summit - and the Importance of Cake in Online Conferences!


The pandemic has forced businesses into even more virtual environments, whether it's for client, partner or internal meetings, trainings or industry conferences and seminars. 

At Markit we have over a decade of experience with distributed, remote/online training and internal meetings but, as for many companies, attending and hosting virtual conferences has brought new learning curves. 

Markit Summit is an internal event that once a year brings together every Markiteer to spend a few days together in one physical location.

In 2020, for obvious reasons this has not been possible, so the Markit Summit went Virtual.

Undoubtedly there are many benefits to online conferences as we have seen from our experiences this year. 

  • Saving Money – Virtual exhibiting costs are lower (or should be) plus the lack of hotel accommodation and flights etc. means savings whether attending as a delegate or exhibitor. 
  • Saving Time- Less time is wasted on travel and theoretically its faster to move around an online environment than a physical space so the potential to meet more people is there. 
  • Easier Record Taking – in a virtual environment everything can recorded and stored, much easier than taking notes by hand, where potentially vital information may be missed. 
  • Faster Planning, Set-up & Close-down – as an exhibitor you can be up and running faster and close down is merely a flick of a switch. Inviting people to attend with online processes is simpler than arranging physical meeting places and associated accommodations etc. 
  • Wider Reach – Because events are online theoretically more people can attend from more countries as they do not have to travel, plus social media sharing whilst live, can grow audiences further.

BUT we have observed important downsides too: 

  • Lack of focus – Attendees, and possibly even exhibitors, can be distracted by what’s happening “in the real world”. An email. A phone call. A family member who needs attention. Finding a way for attendees to truly engage as they would at physical events is a key challenge event organisers and exhibitors face. 
  • Lack of spontaneity and reduced networking – At real world conferences you can randomly bump into people, make ad hoc connections and sometimes these lead to valuable business or referrals. This just does not happen in a virtual B2B event. 
  • Lack of “fun” and excitement – Let’s face it, an industry conference is not just about the event topic itself. It provides a welcome break from the usual work routine and is something to look forward to. To meet your peers, socially interact and dare we say, have a few drinks and make friends at a gala or conference party. Again, virtual just cannot compete. 
  • Generational differences in attitudes to online events - more traditionally minded people may lack online networking experience or skills which means they may not gain or give as much value in a virtual environment compared to a real-world event. Cultural differences may have an impact too.

Content and Delivery Become Paramount 

The most accomplished speakers know that stagecraft, body language and “working with the audience” are key factors to successful presentations. In the virtual space the quality, relevance and engagement value of the messages and content raise in importance significantly as the presenter just cannot display their commanding physical presence in the same amount. These factors can be seen as positive or negative depending on the topic and the depth of content detail or value to the audience. 

Markit Summit Virtual 2020 

So, when we planned a virtual version of our annual Summit we tested some new ideas to address these issues. It was certainly a very useful learning experience that received positive feedback from our teams across 35 countries, which will help us further improve our virtual communication abilities. 

 A virtual Summit is of course not the same as a real physical event. Still, thanks to the wonders of technology, positive attitude and participation from all our Markiteers, some comedy, live music, virtual cake-making, a fun run and even a virtual disco!, it was a productive, fun and bonding experience. Our chosen sociability tools allowed Q&A with speakers and virtual chat everyone where people could connect 1-2-1 or in small breakout groups. 

What the Cake? 

Imagine having dozens of people simultaneously in different locations waking up in the morning and starting the day with a fresh coffee and “baking a cake” of their choice for breakfast. Watching fellow Markiteers enjoying themselves, exchanging ideas and recipes was beautiful to experience. Be it online or live events – these anchoring memories and peak-experiences are the ones that sometimes make the needed emotional mark of good events. 

Social interaction and a sense of fun are things we all need in these difficult times where we don’t get to meet face to face as much as we would like. 

What is the Markit Summit? 

The Markit Summit tradition started in 2009 where approximately 35 Markiteers came together in Tallinn, Estonia. Since then, it’s travelled 10 countries. 

The Summit is an inspiring, and now legendary, annual event where we come together to

  • Celebrate Markit’s culture and our achievements during the passed year 
  • Share and discuss our goals for the future 
  • Gain insights into current IT procurement trends and building Markit  
  • Have fun with our 135 fellow Markiteers from 35 countries 
  • Recognise individuals and teams with Markit Awards - for their standout performances and for demonstrating Markit’s values of loyalty, transparency and hard work.  

It’s rare we draw attention to any particular Markiteer’s achievements publicly but this year, we will make an exception. 

Special recognition goes to Mindaugas Mickus (Country Manager at Markit Lithuania) and Aleksandrs Melnikovs (Country Manager at Markit Latvia) who were jointly awarded the Markiteer Lifetime Achievement Award for their 15 years with the company with outstanding results, and loyalty in the extreme.  Well done guys, you deserve it! 

On a final note, we also feel humbled that approximately 2,000 new companies have become Markit clients since the start of the pandemic. It shows that Markit’s IT marketplace solution really has helped international IT buyers and CPOs save time and money and more importantly, for some, avoids the pains associated with inconsistent product availability and pricing that they faced before turning to Markit. 

Helping so many new companies succeed in reducing the cost and pain of their IT purchasing was just one of the many achievements we celebrated at the Summit.