This year’s edition of Google Cloud’s annual partner and customer event, Google Next ‘20, is the latest major tech conference to be hit by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, with the event being switched to an entirely digital affair.
“The health and wellbeing of Google Cloud customers, partners, employees and the overall community is our top priority,” said Google Cloud chief marketing officer Alison Wagonfeld in a blog post, dated 3 March.
“Due to the growing concern around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in alignment with the best practices laid out by the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], WHO [the World Health Organisation] and other relevant entities, Google Cloud has decided to reimagine Google Cloud Next ’20, which will still take place from April 6-8,” she said.
In place of the initial physical event, Wagonfeld said the company is transforming the event into Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect, a free, global, digital-first, multi-day event connecting attendees to Next ’20 content and each other through streamed keynotes, breakout sessions, interactive learning and digital “ask an expert” sessions with Google teams.
“Innovation is in Google’s DNA and we are leveraging this strength to bring you an immersive and inspiring event this year without the risk of travel,” Wagonfeld said. “As we work on all the details of this new digital experience over the coming weeks, we will update our Next ’20 website with additional information, including registration information.”
The move sees Google follow in the footsteps of Salesforce, which in February moved to cancel its physical regional World Tour event for Sydney due to coronavirus concerns and has replaced it with a “reimagined” version that will be streamed completely online.
Detailed in an email sent out on 19 February, a spokesperson for the company said the “evolving situation with the coronavirus outbreak” has caused Salesforce to essentially cancel the physical event.
“After careful consideration of our customers and reflection on our values, we’ve decided to change the format of our World Tour in person event on Wednesday 4th March to be an online experience,” the spokesperson said.
The Google and Salesforce events are just two among an increasing number of global and local tech conferences by the likes of Microsoft, HP and Facebook to be cancelled due to the outbreak of the virus.