For a massive group--25,000 attendees on-site and another 15,000 remote viewers--Drury Design creative director Chris Drury took over the MGM Grand arena in Las Vegas to showcase IBM Cloud and Mobile at IBM InterConnect 2016.
IBM InterConnect is IBM’s premier Cloud and Mobile Conference, and this year’s event was its largest to date. The theme of the conference was “Outthink Limits--a powerful phrase used to communicate that customers could outthink markets, competition, threats, complexity and disruption using IBM Cloud and achieve successful business outcomes.
The theme was driven home during General Sessions, in Thought Leadership Sessions, in the Expo and Social Park, and in hundreds of workshops and smaller sessions.
The Opening General Session introduced the "Outthink Limits" theme in a dramatic, high-energy and theatrical way, setting the tone for the entire week.
The 130-foot-wide screens were filled with custom after-effects animations and original footage of customers sharing their inspirations and dreams. What can IBM Cloud make possible?
The piece was underscored by a live 27-piece band/orchestra/choir that was dramatically revealed at the crescendo of the piece behind the giant perforated center screen.
The excitement built as a capacity crowd entered the massive MGM Grand arena.
As no one venue in Vegas could support an audience of 25,000-plus, Drury set up live simultaneous feeds to the Mandalay Bay Events Center and other viewing areas, where thousands more attendees watched.
During walk-in, a live band in the MGM arena and a DJ in the Events Center added excitement and entertainment, as attendees from 80 countries entered the two venues for the start of the event.
For this conference, IBM wanted to depart from the traditional model and adopted the philosophy that InterConnect2016 would be “by customers, for customers.”
In keeping with this aim, three IBM customers opened the event, rather than the traditional executive remarks.
Westpac’s Richard Holmes, Alpha Modus’ Bill Alessi and Siemens’ Matthias Rebellius took turns sharing their experiences and delving into how each of their companies is using IBM solutions to outthink limits in their respective industries.
For attendees raised on a heavy dose of media, visual information was as important as the spoken word.
All InterConnect sessions departed from traditional Powerpoint presentations and instead supported the messages with beautiful illustrations, stock and original photography, and animations.
With a tech audience as savvy as InterConnect’s, it was vital that the social influencer program be powerful and exciting. Drury worked with the IBM social team to create a robust and meaningful program that included special live presentations in a unique theater space, as well as more intimate podcasts.
The Park literally was an oasis of greenery in the sea of hotel ballrooms; a social space for media and attendees to tune out the distractions and tune into the social media world. With a full line-up of demonstrations, press conferences, social media leaderboards and live feeds, the Park was an exciting and active social hub.
The VIP Veranda, new for InterConnect 2016, offered a place for media to hold interviews, deliver podcasts, create videos and meet with industry leaders.
Celebrities are as much a part of a tech conference as anywhere else, and this year the droid BB-8 from "Star Wars" garnered much attention when it made an appearance with IBM’s Joshua Carr.
Carr demonstrated “the force” by using an Emotiv Insight to control the droid with his mind, a technology built with IBM Bluemix, which he also showcased during the Day Three General Session.
New to this year’s IBM InterConnect were five unique Thought Leadership sessions.
Each session featured an outside industry thought leader, followed by IBM customer stories supporting the topic and an IBM executive as host.
For instance, one session featured Dimagi, a company that helps clients in low-resource areas build their own sophisticated mobile applications.
Another Thought Leadership session featured professional race car driver and F1 sports commentator David Hobbs.
He was joined by representatives from Honda R&D Co. Ltd., who spoke about how their Formula 1 teams use IBM technology and "Internet of Things" data to improve real-time decision-making.
The perforated center screen was again used for high-impact dramatic effect for the Opening of the Day Three General Session.
The opening featured the inspiring story of Simon Wheatcroft, a blind ultra-marathon runner, who uses the IBM Cloud-powered app Runkeeper to run unaided on the open road.
After running from Boston to New York and then running the New York Marathon, his next challenge is running a solo 160-mile race in the Namibian desert.
The perforated center screen was the perfect canvas for Drury Design to paint a picture of the athlete’s journey.
Another image from the opening of the final day.
One of the last speakers of the day, 12-year-old software developer Tanmay Bakshi stole the show.
Bakshi builds apps using the IBM Watson API and had his first app accepted to the Apple App store when he was only nine years old.
An image of Bakshi with his various apps using IBM Cloud.
John Cohn, IBM Fellow, Internet of Things, closed the show with advice that one might not expect to hear at any conference, much less one devoted to tech: how to bring play into work.
His key points were met with a Twitter explosion: "Keep your inner child; Find some playmates; Break the rules; Don’t worry so much. "
IBM also tasked Drury with finding creative ways to make announcements on stage.
On the first day, an important Apple partnership was announced, and on the last day, Mark Josephson, CEO of Bitly, announced that Bitly will be moving all of its 25 billion data-infused links to the IBM Cloud.
Huge news, and Drury responded with dynamic graphic support.
For the final night, Drury’s team transformed the floor of the MGM Grand arena from theater seating to a concert setting.
The stage was also transformed to work with Elton John’s band and media.
Sir Elton is definitely still standing--and he had the crowd on its feet.
With a crowd this large, Drury and IBM produced a second activity on the final night, a rocking party at the legendary MGM nightclub Hakkasan.
As the conference came to a close, Drury and the IBM team were already applying “outthink” to how they would “outdo” themselves in 2017!
Drury Design helps IBM and its clients push past limits with the massive IBM InterConnect 2016--IBM's largest conference to date.
Photos courtesy IBM InterConnect