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The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting event and workplace shutdowns, as social distancing measures become key to slowing the spread of the disease. Despite the restrictions on travel and in-person meetings, the Digital Utilities event was able to connect utility leaders across the country by moving quickly to deliver a successful digital conference.

Hosting an event can be challenging at the best of times, and a global pandemic is an unprecedented situation for most event organisers. With the coronavirus situation changing far more rapidly than anyone could have anticipated, on Friday 13 March it became clear that Digital Utilities 2020 could and should not go ahead as a live event.

In only three business days, the entire conference program was transferred to an online format, ensuring the safety of attendees by removing the need to travel and meet face-to-face in large numbers.

In the utility industry, embracing digital technologies and business models is vital for optimising asset management, improving network operations and keeping up with changing customer demands – as video conferencing and remote working becomes the new normal, Digital Utilities was able to create something of value for all participants and ensure conversations around the highly relevant topic of digital transformation could still take place.

From 19-20 March, over 130 delegates tuned in to watch the Zoom webinar live, with many others intending to watch the presentation recordings at their leisure. A lot of valuable information was exchanged and there was plenty of social interaction through the in-built Q&A and chat functions.

The support for the digital conference from speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and delegates was overwhelming, with many commenting how glad they were that the event still went ahead, with the majority of industry gatherings cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future.

Bentley Systems — a global software development company with a portfolio of solutions that accelerate project delivery and improve asset performance — maintained its role as the Event Partner for a third year running, kicking off day one of the webinar with an informative presentation about digital twins.

Major Sponsors, GHD Digital, Hexagon PPM, AVEVA, Wipro and DXC Technology, and Sponsors, Publicis Sapient, IFS Australia, Quadient, Monoova, BidEnergy and Amazon Web Services, were also able to share information around how they are helping to accelerate digital transformation in the utility industry.

The two-day digital conference was just the beginning, and all delegates are supporters will soon be invited to join an exclusive online networking group, as well as eventually taking part in a live function later in the year once circumstances allow.

We’ll continue to share some of the insights from the event in the coming weeks so look out for more updates.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

©2020 utilitymagazine. All rights reserved

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