After more than 30 years in healthcare marketing and advertising, including 17 years as CEO of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, one of the largest healthcare agency networks in the world, Matt Giegerich decided to turn his creative energy to the fast-paced world of technology services and solutions as the CEO of The Inception Company. He was impressed by the company that his colleague, Doug Mack, had built offering engagement products and services to help clients reach and connect more fully with their stakeholders, but Matt was especially intrigued by the company’s newest innovation, Pando, a virtual platform that delivers the experience and impact of an in-person meeting by integrating a full studio production with in-studio moderators and/or presenters, a 40-ft video wall, and remote attendees participating from anywhere in the world. As Matt approaches his second anniversary at The Inception Company, PM360 spoke with him to learn more about his transition to a technology company and what he sees for the future.

PM360: You have a long and storied career as the CEO of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide. What made you decide that you wanted to join a small, entrepreneurial company instead?

Matt Giegerich: I had reached the point in my career where I felt that I had accomplished much of what I ever thought was possible. While there were always new challenges and new opportunities, I was looking for something smaller and entrepreneurial that I could help build. I saw that the need for virtual collaboration and communication was continuing to rise as all companies are being asked to do more for less. I also realized that while traditional virtual platforms met some needs, a tremendous gap still existed between virtual and live meetings. Our virtual platform is the first of its kind, and it bridges that gap by delivering an in-person experience and extraordinary engagement for an ever-growing list of potential use cases.

What kind of use cases are you talking about?

We have done a tremendous number of programs under the broad stroke of training: Product launches, leadership training, clinical trial updates, speaker training, scientific sessions with physicians, CME, and product training to name a few. We have also done advisory boards for both HCPs and patients, sales and marketing meetings, market access meetings, market research—really the use cases are limitless. One client asked us to transform the studio into a nightclub with specialty lighting and staging to announce their President’s Club winners. Representatives were encouraged to get together at restaurants or homes and to include their families, if possible, so all could share in the excitement. Seventy-plus home office employees were in the studio to interact with the 2,500 sales representatives in the field. It is such a great example of how versatile the platform is.

On the other end of the spectrum, we recently conducted a global medical affairs program with 51 countries and 1,600 HCPs participating, which was a huge success—so much so that the client is hosting another one this year. Not only did they increase the number of participants and reduce their costs, the virtual platform allowed them to hold two annual meetings instead of one live meeting.

You have been in-market for a little more than a year with this platform. What has most surprised you?

Honestly, I think the overwhelming response from our clients. When we first started, companies were signing up for one meeting. That did not surprise us because it’s always considered a risk to try something completely new. But what we were excited to see is that immediately after hosting one virtual event most, if not all, clients signed up for several more and suggested the platform to their colleagues. That has been especially rewarding for me and my team. As you can imagine, a lot of time, resources, and sweat equity goes into building something new. We could not be more pleased about our clients’ receptivity and their willingness to adopt a new way to engage with their audiences.

What do you think has most surprised your clients?

Without a doubt it’s the level of engagement—and even fun—they are having. Unlike traditional virtual meetings, where it’s easy to be distracted and multi-task, this platform has lean-in engagement. You can be seen life-size on the video wall, collaborate with your colleagues, raise your hand to ask questions, participate in real-time polls and surveys and, most of all, speak directly—eye-to-eye and in real-time—with the meeting attendees. While live meetings will always be the gold standard, the platform offers a highly personal connection because it’s as if everyone is sitting in the front row. We have had clients tell us that the possibilities it presents is causing them to up their game.

As you look to the future, what do you see?

Technology is definitely changing the world we live in and how we communicate. When I think back on my own career and the travel and time spent to accomplish our goals, I am awestruck at how technology has been able to bring people together to collaborate in a fraction of the time. The secret is not to use technology for technology’s sake, but to use it to enhance what’s possible and to exceed your goals.  It is truly amazing and I’m looking forward to what’s next!

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