In the business world, there’s a lot of talk about big data, small data and everything in between. But when it comes to trade shows and events, how can Organizers start to think about data and business intelligence? Organizers know their events are full of useful data that can help inform stakeholders throughout the event ecosystem. But accessing the data, and making sense of the information in order to make strategic decisions, is often a challenge. To help Organizers better understand the opportunity, while cutting through the clutter of buzz words, we launched a blog series created to shed some light on the topic. We spoke with our team’s leadership and event technology thought leaders, to shape the conversation and provide an accessible and educational look at event analytics.
We launched this series, because we often hear the following:
“What data can I collect from my event and how do I use that information to improve future events?”
“Is there a way to consolidate information across multiple events?
“How can I demonstrate revenue and return for my sponsors and exhibitors?
“How do I prove my event is profitable?”
Sounds all too familiar, right?
These are just a few of the typical questions Organizers are increasingly under pressure to answer.
Luckily, there are event technology tools that streamline operations and provide valuable information. But all too often data from those disparate solutions resides across multiple sources – making it
tedious and nearly impossible for Organizers to consolidate information. And without holistic insights, answering these questions remains a stressful experience for all those involved.
“Event Organizers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the complexity and costs associated with integrating multiple best-of-breed solutions and databases. It requires internal expertise, willing
technology partners, and a common framework for sharing, storing, and accessing data that doesn’t yet exist,” says Michelle Bruno, editor of EventTechBrief.
Nevertheless, to create the best event experience – for attendees, sponsors, exhibitors and your
association – your event needs data-driven business intelligence.
The State of Business Intelligence
Paul Weiskopf, senior vice president of corporate development at Domo, a business intelligence and data visualization firm says, “Data is everywhere and essential for businesses to live, grow, and thrive.”
As Event Organizers are all too familiar with, today’s data-driven climate means information is
available almost everywhere – from their event management software and mobile app, to the attendee registration system, floor traffic measurement, and other industry related platforms and CRMs.
But knowing how to harness that data for valuable insights to shape better experiences for exhibitors and attendees is a whole other story.
Enter Business Intelligence (BI).
Typically defined as “A technology-driven process for acquiring, analyzing, transforming and
presenting raw data into meaningful and useful information,” BI is rapidly becoming an essential tool for many professionals– especially event organizers.
According to Zion Research, the global business intelligence market accounted USD 16.33 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach USD 26.50 billion by 2021.
Why is it gaining so much momentum, so quickly? According to the Top 10 Business Intelligence Trends for 2016 report from Tableau, a company that helps people see and understand their data:
“Data is changing the conversation – in boardrooms, in the media, and in social media. People are visualizing their data to explore questions, uncover insights, and share stories with both data
experts and non-experts alike.”
Having a defined business intelligence strategy helps event organizers:
- Detect/understand hidden trends/patterns in data points
- Improve and accelerate real-time decision-making
- Identify new business opportunities
- Re-engineer inefficient business processes
- Cut costs
- Track performance
Why using a total event tech platform matters when it comes to BI and beyond:
Let’s say it’s been a long week and you’re craving pizza for dinner. Do you go to eight different pizza shops and buy a slice at each to make up a whole pizza?
When it comes to planning your event’s BI strategy, the same concept applies. Why would you go to multiple event tech vendors who only sell you a piece of what you need – versus a single organization who offers a comprehensive, best-in-breed platform?
Just like in our pizza example, Event Organizers save time, money and resources by working with one company for their event technology solutions. A single platform that provides event management software, mobile apps, kiosks, beacons, and wayfinding is the most optimized way to deliver a seamless experience across every aspect of an event, convention, trade show or corporate meeting – and gain valuable data insights.
“An ecosystem that allows data to flow freely, and for new data and understanding to be automatically created, benefits every stakeholder,” Bruno explains.
Collin Tokosch, Senior Account Manager at Core-apps, adds, “By looking at your event tech strategy as a single ecosystem, you’ll deliver a seamless experience for attendees–from their pre-event planning all the way through their entire on-site event experience.”
On the flip side, a piecemeal approach to multiple event technologies often means unnecessary logins.
“For example, attendees create a username and password in order to register for the event. Then, they create a separate account and log in to plan their schedule on the event’s mobile app. Add in the challenge of integrating these multiple sources of data so attendees can print a simple schedule, it’s no wonder why Organizers are always stressed out about these details.”
Aside from creating a disjointed user experience, imagine the additional time and costs needed to get all these individual applications up and running – let alone integrated with a CRM like Salesforce or systems like eTouches, Experient or any other industry database.
A single source event technology platform also means your data does not live separately. All technologies work seamlessly together to provide comprehensive event
analytics, which provide insights into your event’s historical data.
As a result, rather than spending time getting systems and data to talk to each other, Organizers should spend time focusing on understanding and acting on the business insights gained.
The bottom line to planning your event’s BI strategy? Compared to going with a single-feature event technology platform, it will take more time, you’ll pay more for each technology application “slice,” and you’ll miss out on the benefits of true, holistic data integration.
Key Questions to Ask Your Event Technology Partner
Choosing a technology partner requires due diligence and homework. Get started by asking these questions:
Q1: What’s your niche?
Many individual event technology vendors typically specialize in specific features. For example, several mobile app vendors strictly focus on social media sharing capabilities, so event content takes a backseat. Other application providers might just specialize in medical and scientific abstract management, while a third may have recently started offering event registration software as an add-on service.
On the other hand, a Tier 1 provider like Core-apps, understands the importance of approaching events as an entire ecosystem, and optimizing for the best event experience across the board.
These providers continuously iterate and make improvements to ensure all technology works together seamlessly. They also have honed relationships with leading CRMs and industry databases to make integration a snap.
Q2: How long have you been in business?
Many application providers have jumped on the events industry bandwagon, providing solutions only for a few years.
Other platform providers have been in the industry for much longer. More experience equates to better industry insights, which can be applied to benefit your event.
So for example, if you’ve sold out your event and can’t add additional booth space, those providers with greater industry experience draw on insights they’ve been gathering for years and are able to use that knowledge to provide specific recommendations and suggestions on how to generate additional revenue and a better experience for attendees.
Q3: How is customer service handled?
When you’re deep in your event prep and need help, it’s critical to know you’ll get the support you need – fast.
Find out if customer service experience consists of calling or emailing a general support contact. Many Organizers find this kind of approach means the support contact doesn’t know who you are, hasn’t worked with you previously, and has to do research and talk to others in order to answer questions.
On the other hand, providers who offer dedicated customer service, ensures your contact knows every detail about your event, your process and your goals – and questions or concerns are rapidly addressed and resolved.
Says Tokosch, “For most Organizers, a dedicated support team helps ensure your event app is successful from the initial strategy and on-boarding all the way through implementation–and more importantly, eliminates any potential concerns that may arise.”
Q4: How much can we do on our own?
The days of only “large events” using event technology are gone. The right partner helps you easily scale your business intelligence needs – whether your event has 100, 10,000 or 100,000 attendees.
Some providers have hard-to-use interfaces, or require you to pay for programmers to make changes. Ask specifically what adjustments, formatting and changes you can make on your own. This is especially important if you anticipate needing to make adjustments on the fly without having to pay (or wait) for costly changes.
Don’t forget to ask about the on-boarding process. Many platform providers share best practices and ideas to make on-boarding easy.
Q5: What key metrics and information do you provide?
Remember, the goal of BI is to acquire, analyze, transform and present raw data into meaningful and useful information.
Ask potential providers questions to understand what you’ll have access to, such as:
- What data is available instantly/in real-time?
- What off-the-shelf reports exist versus what can be customized for us?
- What new insights/future opportunities does your system provide?
Don’t forget to ask these other important questions to understand how you’ll work together:
- Who’s the team that will be working with our organization?
- What industry databases and CRMs have you developed APIs for?
- Realistically, what should our implementation time frame be?
- How do you handle privacy and data security?
And remember, a partner who’s invested in your success will ask questions too. Understanding your overall goals, how you manage your data, and what you plan to do with your data ensures any business intelligence solutions will be a good match for your needs.
Realizing the Benefits of Business Intelligence
For Event Organizers and Directors to make better day-to-day decisions and identify future trends or new opportunities, staying with the status quo is no longer enough.
In today’s era of accountability, to know what’s working and what could be improved – not just for planning purposes, but also for attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and even speakers – events are experiencing a digital transformation.
Organizers need to invest in business intelligence to inform their marketing decisions and address the needs of all event stakeholders.
The best business intelligence insights come from an integrated platform. While individual reporting is usually part of individual event applications, without integration there’s a missing holistic view – in addition to the additional money, time and resources needed to manually piecemeal data.
Learn more about Core-apps and our complete event technology platform that includes event management software, mobile apps, beacons and kiosks, supported by the industry’s leading customer care team.