Image source: User gwire on flickr.
Previously, I wrote about the future of face-to-face events. The future of events lies in technology that creates business intelligence from event data. Events create a massive amount of data (trees) and technology should enable event planners and sponsors to “see the forest from the trees.”
Virtual/hybrid event platforms can play an important role in this future. These platforms are a primary driver of “event data.” The future for virtual event platforms is to pair the data they generate with third party data sources to generate comprehensive event intelligence.
Let’s consider reasons why Big Data is the future for virtual event platforms.
Data is no longer in one place.
Image source: Horia Varlan on flickr.
In the early days, data generated by the virtual event platform was the one and only source of event data. Along came social media and attendees began to tweet, post and pin their way around (and often outside) the event experience.
Throw in hybrid events (which have a corresponding face-to-face event) and you have another universe of data being created “on site” (check ins, user-generated video, badge scans, etc.). The reality is that event data, even for virtual events, is widely dispersed. To drive true event intelligence, “someone” needs to coalesce that data and make sense of it. For me, the virtual event platform should be that “someone.”
The ever-elusive “ROI” can be defined up front.
Virtual event planners still struggle to answer the question, “how are you measuring [and proving] ROI for your virtual event?” One reason is that the planner doesn’t quite know how to measure ROI. The other reason is that tools aren’t readily available to do so. By working with Big Data, virtual event platform providers (and the event planners) can define the ROI model when the deal is sold.
I imagine the platforms providing both standard and custom “ROI packages.” Standard packages could be “sentiment” (for internal, HR events) or “retention” (for training events). Using “pre” and “post” data, planners can now make statements such as, “our virtual town hall meeting drove a 45% increase in employee satisfaction.”
When you define, measure and prove ROI, it’s more likely that this year’s virtual/hybrid event will happen again next year (and the year after that).
The core technology already exists.
The foundation for the future is already in place: virtual/hybrid event platforms create online experiences, store data, process data and present/render data. The missing piece (and yes, it’s a big one) is the ability to integrate (import) third party data coming from social media, the broader web and face-to-face event systems.
The strategic value is in the data.
Image source: User andertoons on flickr.
Content and user experience will always be critical to the success of an event. You need the right content and user experience to drive engagement, after all. After the event is over, the strategic value you take from it is found in the data.
Attendees will remember the content and user experience. Business owners will remember the data. Why do virtual event platforms need to work with (and make sense of) data outside their own platform? Because it paints the whole picture. And because true ROI cannot be delivered without it.
There’s a technology company called Splunk that “turns machine data into valuable insights no matter what business you’re in.” (source: Splunk web site). Splunk is a publicly traded company with a market cap well over $4B. There’s value in data. Virtual event platforms can be the “Splunk for event data.”