Choosing the right event technology

images (2)I went to a presentation last week held by a leading event technology provider because they keep popping up everywhere and I thought it was about time that I got to know them better.

Now, just to be clear, I consider myself to be pretty technology savvy.  There are lots of things I don’t know but I am at the earlyish end of adoption. And I like things that increase efficiency and engagement.  So I am a receptive audience.

The technology on view was pretty clever, it did a lot of great things and I’m sure that it is as best of breed as the sales team say it is. That isn’t my issue. The big problem is how technology firms present their solutions to what is essentially a non-techie audience.

In the events industry, the majority of people buying into these services are operations or marketing focussed, not IT professionals.  We need to understand in bite sized chunks how a system works, what the benefits are, how the solution replaces some processes and how flexible it is when we need to tweak things at the last minute. After an hour of listening and watching a very good presentation I still hadn’t nailed down the specific benefits which I could take back to a client in order to get them to invest the time and money in utilising the system.  Rather than running through a shopping list of features and benefits, with a link to the app, it would have been much more useful to have a number of examples of how people were using the software in different scenarios. I was left with a feeling that I had seen something great, but I couldn’t actually tell you what it was, and I know that some of the other guests who were there felt the same.

Technology is like rather like the dessert trolley at the end of a three course meal.  Everything looks delicious but which one, in what quantity, will leave you feeling satisfied and replete rather than bloated or disappointed?  The trick is to know your capabilities and capacity before you make your decision.  If you know that what you really need to sort out is your attendee registration systems and you have a team that can handle it in-house, then this is where you must focus in the first instance.  If you want to dovetail your marketing into a full-service CRM system, then you must specify a solution which does this within the parameters of your existing, or planned, skillset.  For a better onsite attendee experience, you should have a clear understanding of your audience, both their technical capabilities and the venues before searching out your app supplier etc.

It is very easy to get bowled over by the bells and whistles of technology, particularly when you are being influenced by the techie evangelists. The most important step you need to take before even entering into a conversation is to create a specification based on your audience and their needs. 

As an old boss of mine once said: “Don’t let technology lead the process, make it your servant not your master.”

Hellen @missioncontrol