How to Run a Microsoft 365/Teams Virtual Event

What is microsoft 365

Welcome to a summary of our motivations surrounding hosting virtual events on the Microsoft 365 platform.  

At Envision IT/Extranet User Manager, we live and breathe Microsoft technologies and we work closely with clients everyday developing, customizing and training them on how to get the most out of their investment. With the quick spread of Covid-19 in early 2020, all our sponsor plans went out the window giving us time to brainstorm and improvise.  

With this time, we saw a huge opportunity to support virtual conferences while leveraging our Extranet User Manager (EUM) product as it is very much so focused on helping manage external users. In order to make the conference experience a success, the attendee onboarding had to be frictionless and simple. From what we were seeing, virtual conferences were being held outside the Microsoft ecosystem and this left us shaking our heads.

 

The Concerns 

Seeing other organizations opting to host their virtual conferences outside of Microsoft 365 completely went against what we saw as an opportunity. Microsoft 365 has all the underlying functionalities to run a virtual conference and coupled with our EUM product, we truly felt that we could provide a very positive and simple attendee onboarding experience into Microsoft 365. We decided to give it a try and truly eat our own dog food. 

To begin, we knew Teams and or SharePoint Online was the ideal location for conference users to access. With Teams providing the desired one-on-one chat, Teams/Channel persistent chat and video conferencing made it the core of our approach. However with this decision in place, there were issues that we knew we would have to address head on as part of this. A simplified list of those issues are; 

  • Microsoft licensing 
  • Conference registration and user onboarding 
  • User information and privacy

The Concept 

Addressing the concerns outlined above; primarily Microsoft licensing. Wanting users to fully embrace the platform, we quickly identified they would need to be brought into Microsoft Teams as full members. For companies hosting conferences, it simply does not make sense to purchase full licenses for the conference users as they would be leveraged for 1 - 2 days and then abandoned. Additionally, since the users are external to the conference host, it made sense to leverage Azure AD B2B licensing for the guest users. Understanding, the 1:5 licensing ratio only applies when using premium Azure AD features, we recognized we could use Azure AD free accounts where no such licensing ratio applied.  

Next in the process was to address some got-chas we knew would be present as part of the registration and onboarding experience for the conference attendees. Those being how to enable users to register themselves, minimize the accounts they need to manage, and ensure the account is added to the appropriate roles. Some of these items we knew we could address right away and others we knew would require additional coaching to the users.  

The last point and it is a big one is surrounding user privacy and information. Teams provides the ability for users to be very interactive and engage within a call. However, the issue is users attending the conference would not necessarily want to be identified and or use their actual email address as a guest user. With this in mind, we set forward with the motion that we would setup Azure AD free accounts which reside in one tenant and then invite those users into the conference tenant as full guests. 

 

The Solution 

Highlighted as a concern above, we wanted to make the registration and attendee process as straight forward as possible. We ended up leveraging EUMs self registration functionality. When a user self registers it creates an EUM account which is a local account that has an email and password. Users do need to verify that they have access to the email account they registered with which is completed by EUMs email validation. With this in place, it is challenging for spam accounts to successfully register for the event . When a user successfully registers, it triggers a Logic App workflow that does quite a few things;

  • Creates an @teamsdayonline.com account by randomly parsing information provided in the registration. This then gives some anonymity to users logging in.
  • Adds the new accounts to the Conference Azure AD as a Guest User
  • Assigns the partner Teams and Azure AD roles to the account

With this process in place, all users have to remember is the single password they used to register with their account. When the conference begins, they use the @teamsdayonline.com account within the Teams desktop client, this will redirect to our EUM login for them to put in their password. Successfully submitting this will bring the user into the Teams client where they are able to chat with other attendees, comment on existing channel threads and join in video sessions knowing their email address is allowing them to remain anonymous. Below is a very high level diagram depicting this process;


Teamsdayonline.PNG 

The registration process works as follows; 

  • User browses the teams conference event site and makes the decision to register 

  • Clicking any of the Register buttons on the site redirects the user to a welcome page which explains the process that will ensue 

  • Once read, they can press continue to be redirected to Extranet User Manager's self registration. From there they can sign up with First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Country of residence and Company Name. 

  • With this submitted, Extranet User Manager goes and creates an @teamsdayonline.com account with a randomized process to anonymise the email of the user not giving away the initial email they registered with 

  • Extranet User Manager will also verify the email of the registered user by providing a 6 digit code they must enter to finish the login 

  • Once completed, they are redirected to https://www.teamsdayonline.com/welcome 

  • This page explains in more detail how the conference works. They should follow the instructions at the bottom to log into Teams with their new @teamsdayonline.com account 

  • They should then be able to see all conference teams within the Teams client  


The Results 

Our approach to this was to work with a couple different companies who had plans to host virtual events in the fall of 2020 and luckily we connected with Russ Basiura from Modern Workplace Summits. He had already set out to host Teams Day Online which he quickly agreed there would be no better place to host the conference them Microsoft Teams itself.  As we are approaching the event, we are ectastic to annouce we have now successfully registered x speakers and x attendees into the conference tenant. 

We were able to bring this from to concept to production ready in a small timeframe of 4 weeks. This is a huge opportunity for EUM as a product as it showcases one of the many strengths of managing external user registration simply and collaborating virtually through conferences is a really great things for user to be involved in right now given the ongoing state of Covid-19. 

 

Do you have a Microsoft 365 virtual event planned and would like to fully leverage Microsoft 365 to host the conference?

Get in touch with us to chat more about how we can help you run your event powered by Extranet User Manager. 



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Challenges

The EUM Solution