Tag Archives: Technology

    Shaping event and content strategy in real-time via attendee data.

    The Power of Data: Shaping Event and Content Strategy in Real-Time

    We are awash in data – some of it crucial to operational success, some of it simply noise. Virtually every device we pick up and piece of software we use offers insight into our habits, our desires and our patterns. High-growth, cutting-edge companies, like multinational software provider SAP, have long ago learned to channel and leverage this data into actionable insight driving critical business and marketing decisions.

    “We have an incredible amount of data that flows through SAP every day,” SAP CMO Alicia Tillman told IDG Communications’ CMO, Josh London. “Not only does data enable us to bring transparency to customers to solve a lot of their everyday challenges, but data also allows us to innovate, to deliver solutions to business to solve their everyday problems.”

    Even for companies well aware of the value of data, translating this insight to events and event strategy – in real-time, no less – is a counterintuitive leap. We possess the ability to collect and measure an amazing amount of attendee data with incredible levels of granularity – but is that enough? What are we really learning and what do we do with what we’ve learned?

    B2B companies that host their own events need to be able to act on this data in real-time. The cliche of “adapt or die” exists for a reason and a truly responsive, innovative company not only learns lessons from past engagements, but also adapts in the moment.

    The challenge is twofold: Event hosts need reliable methods of data collection, and they need inventive ways to analyze and act upon that information in real time.

    How Do You Gather Event Data in Real Time?

    Collecting useful data from a throng of attendees is certainly a challenge, but emerging technologies are making it easier than ever to glean actionable insights from event crowds. The primary difficulty isn’t the actual capture of data, but determining which types of data are most relevant to your needs.

    For instance, if you want to optimize pedestrian traffic between event halls, it probably won’t do you much good to collect heart-rate data from smart watches. Rather, you could create a heatmap of the convention floor either using static floor sensors, wearables, or smart cameras. Then, you’ll need some way to analyze that data so you can make adjustments accordingly.

    The method with which you collect attendee data should be specific to your purpose. Another option might be to include an RFID tag on attendee badges or wristbands.

    Likewise, event-specific apps can provide another way for attendees to submit data voluntarily through live polls, Q&A interactions or integration with social media apps. Indeed, social media itself can become a powerful channel through which to collect attendee feedback. Hashtags allow event producers to place their fingers on the pulse of the show, gaining valuable insights into what parts of the event are generating the most buzz.

    In the near future, exciting new technologies such as facial recognition could make it even easier for event managers to get granular insights into how individual attendees interact with the show. For example, if attendees register with their Facebook accounts, a facial recognition algorithm could identify registered attendees and track their movements across the show floor, allowing for personalized interactions via the event app.

    In addition to delayed forms of feedback such as surveys, comment cards and email follow-ups, real-time data gives event managers the ability to boost engagement and satisfaction rates. However, collecting this information isn’t enough. The data has to be actionable.

    wrist with smart watchWearables are just one way to collect event data in real-time.

    How Do You Make These Real-Time Insights Actionable?

    Having data is great, but as Christopher Powell, CMO of Commvault, points out, getting the most out of face-to-face events requires more than just hoarding data.

    “You need a strategy,” Powell told IDG. “It sounds a little bit obvious, but you need to know what you’re going into that event with.”

    Powell goes on to state that the goal is create engaging event content that is “relevant for that audience.” Having the ability to utilize that data in real time is critical to any solid event content strategy, allowing B2B companies to interact with attendees on a more personal level, creating a more involved, exciting experience.

    Marketing guru Seth Godin explained to BizBash that unique connections are what make events special to attendees. To illustrate this concept when you see a movie, you know that people all around the world are experiencing the exact same film. However, when you see a play, that showing is unique to the audience you are a part of, making the experience unique.

    “If you want [the event] to feel special, then the more impromptu Q&A, live elements you can add to a speaking event, the more likely it is the audience will feel they are witnessing something special. All of those things introduce risk for you and all of those things are worth it, because that’s why the audience is there: to feel like they were touched by other people and by the speaker,” Godin said.

    An example: Say analytics showed that a particular speaker’s talk was packed with attendees, and then those attendees went on social media to discuss what they heard. This might prompt the event managers to schedule an encore performance later in the day, so more attendees can experience it. The announcement could be delivered via the smartphone app, or by a live content distribution system such as Marquee.

    Likewise, this access to real-time feedback can improve the value proposition for event sponsors. By being able to identify less-trafficked areas on the conference floor, and redirect attendees via content distribution systems and digital signage to these areas, host companies can improve experience for sponsors by driving traffic to their exhibitions. Approximately nine out 10 event professionals in the U.S. believe securing event sponsors will be a challenge this year, so improving the value proposition will be even more important. Showing ROI through real-time analytics may provide some peace of mind for event planners and sponsors alike.

    Gathering and utilizing real-time data is soon to become a standard for B2B events. Be ahead of the curve by embracing the power of this moment.

    PTC 2015 Europe

    ‘Anything Can Happen’: Brand-Focused Event Contingency Planning

    Live events are exciting not because they are predictable, but rather because something big could happen at any moment. That’s why conferences are such a powerful tool for companies: There’s something to be said for making your way to a bustling convention center to be part of the action and see it all happen in real time. Whether it’s the announcement of a new product or an amazing innovation, the waiting crowd wants something to talk about.

    That said, if we’ve learned anything from the seemingly endless stream of viral bloopers and mishaps, it’s that when you’re “live,” anything can happen. You can build out a contingency for every possible calamity under the sun, but ultimately, it’s not just how you expect the unexpected, it’s how you handle it. If a technical failure should happen, brands can either let the mistake become the story told the next day, or work with agility to control the narrative.

    PTC AR Demo

    Creative Contingencies, Memorable Moments

    Sometimes, a smooth save is more impressive than flawless execution. This is because it plays with, and often subverts, expectation. People expect an event to go off without a hitch, so when something goes awry, it’s critical moment of shock that makes an impression.

    To most businesses, this might sound unsettling, but think of it this way: When attendees are jarred out of complacency, opportunity to harness the moment and create something memorable abounds. A show that goes awry, and then is masterfully righted again – that is something worth talking about.

    For example, at the 2018 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a power outage stole the show away from the event’s 4,000 exhibitors. Yet a few of those companies had the foresight and innovation to steal back more attention than they’d lost.

    Car manufacturer Tesla leveraged the blackout with an ad-libed light show highlighting the vehicle’s lighting and audio technology. Elsewhere on the show floor, Energizer acted as if the blackout hadn’t happened, as its battery-powered booth continued to function flawlessly.

    These examples show that contingency plans aren’t just methods of circumventing an incident, but rather solutions that can completely turn the situation on its head. Attendees walking the floor during the blackout were sure to note the novel ways these brands were making the most of the situation, building positive associations and creating viral, organic engagement.

    Essentially, a brand is a set of expectations. We hold these expectations because they are promises that these companies have made good on again and again. To a crowd of spectators, it doesn’t matter if the plan is executed flawlessly or if it stumbles and finds balance again. If it is entertaining, informative and fun, it will be remembered and talked about.

    International Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

    A power outage at the 2018 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This image courtesy of Dialsmith, Inc. – http://www.dialsmith.com/

    Developing Effective Contingency Plans

    It’s one thing to (literally) make plans to keep the lights on and make a good showing. But what about event content?

    Delivering content at an event can be nerve wracking. After all, a failed microphone or a keynote presentation that has stalled out while loading can effectively silence your brand’s voice in a critical moment. However, strategic planning, technical audits and redundant backups can mitigate most content delivery issues before they get a chance to actually manifest.

    Getting to 80 percent stability prior to an event is more or less the entry point: It’s a good place to start, but more can be done. Though no event will ever be 100 percent redundant, the remaining 19.99 percent can be the difference between success and costly failure.

    Here are a few best practices to implement to avoid technical issues onsite:

    • Build a force field around your stage or booth: For flawless execution during keynotes or demos, be sure to install dedicated wireless access points and only allow selected devices to leverage that network. In addition, dedicate a wireless band specifically for those access points to further ensure stability and block out all of the other “noise” around you.
    • Minimize radio frequency and electromagnetic interference: When having multiple concurrent sessions with multiple mics operating within a contained space, we recommend bringing in a dedicated frequency technician to monitor and plan the wireless distribution of all wireless signals, including but not limited to: wireless communications, microphones and push2talk walkies. This will ensure signals are clean and no one “stepping” on each other.
    • Standard power need not apply:  Ensure your production company is using power conditioners to maintain steady voltage as well as leveraging UPSs (uninterrupted power supplies) for its equipment – essentially battery backup in case you lose power. A proper power distribution plan built by seasoned professionals is critical.

    Ultimately, it’s this critical combination of setting up the infrastructure to mitigate the potential for disruption, combined with the brand-focused approach to acting quickly in the event something does happen that will ensure that your next conference is truly unforgettable – regardless of if everything goes exactly as planned.

    Live events are exciting not because they are predictable, but rather because something big could happen at any moment.

    Live events are exciting not because they are predictable, but rather because something big could happen at any moment.