Event planners on the hunt for a new software provider may find that there are more options to choose from these days than in previous years. That’s because our industry is growing and fast, with research showing that the global event management software market will increase 8.24% by 2020.
While having more choice is certainly exciting to a degree, it may also make the selection process that much more difficult and overwhelming. You want your next management solution to elevate your events across the board, and with so much to think about, it’s often best to take a step back, prioritize your goals and organize a game plan to source the perfect solution for your unique needs.
Before you start shopping around
First and foremost, recognizing whether your needs actually put you in the market for an enterprise solution is crucial. By definition, enterprise software should service the majority the client’s business needs. If the software you are considering requires other software platforms to handle your core business then it isn’t a true enterprise platform. Once you know you need an enterprise solution, you can automatically add items such as data security, 24/7 expert support, global capabilities, and robust reporting to your list of needs.
Whether you are already using an event management platform or not, understand the importance of some crucial factors that may not seem as obvious as the software’s features and functionality. For example, find out what regional data privacy laws you fall under the jurisdiction of and ensure that you are armed with the right questions so that your sales rep can cut through complex or ambiguous technical documentation for you.
Keep priorities in mind while talking to a potential provider
Get comfortable with the company you’re talking to by asking about the roadmap its products are heading in. This will help you identify if the company you are considering is aligned with your company’s future priorities. For example, will innovative new product offerings be a key driver for your own company’s growth or is it more important to make sure international capabilities are being continually enhanced? Also, challenge your sales rep to tailor a demo to your exact needs to weed out flashy features and components you may not ever use.
While data security has always been an important factor, it wasn’t until recently that it became a priority for planners. The invalidation of the Safe Harbor Act along with numerous high profile data breaches over the past couple of years have all made data security one of the most important reasons to choose (or not choose) a specific product. Planners should now be demanding data encryption at rest, full compliance with regional data privacy regulations, evidence of a company’s commitment to security in the form of detailed technical documentation, accessibility and frequency of security testing results, and willingness to work with independent auditors and testers.
Think beyond registration technology
Real-time visibility into the “day-of” activities surrounding events and meetings is the next frontier in event technology. Location-based technologies such as smart badges and proximity hubs are fundamental to getting this visibility. The Internet of Things (IoT) has made gathering this type of data accessible to the market. As planners, not only is this technology going to revolutionize your ability to manage events, but it will also provide real, tangible benefits to attendees that they are going to demand more and more of in years to come. Being able to properly and quickly analyze this massive stream of data to extract the most valuable insights is where event software technology is headed. A platform can no longer simply be functional; it now must be intelligent and translate that intelligence into making events better.
While data, security and innovation are all important things to look for in event software, don’t forget about the basic features all event planners need. For example, outstanding customer support and ease of use are both important, essential qualities event planners need throughout the use of a product. Overall, you want your relationship with your event software company to be a long and successful one and by ensuring these needs are being met during the sales process, you’ll be guaranteed a true partnership that will enhance your events.
Guarantee a smooth transition
No matter if you’re just getting started with event software or want to make a smooth migration to new technology, there is no substitute for making sure you have expert help to rely on during the process. Remember, even though you’ve picked the best software for your organization, it’s a still a new system to you and you won’t be an expert at it yet so you’ll want experts making good decisions for you while you are building out your new system. Engage with your new provider’s professional services team early on and have them establish a game plan for you.
Doing this pays for itself multiple times over when you don’t have to face potential business delays down the road due to short-sighted or misguided configuration choices that happened during the early onboarding process. Emphasize your reporting needs up front. Too often this is one of the last areas that gets attention which is unfortunate because it’s also the most difficult to course correct after you realize your needs aren’t being met.
Shane Edmonds is Chief Technology Officer at etouches.