Your Conference Competitiveness Depends Upon Flexing Big Data Muscles

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Everyone seems to be talking about the tech trend Big Data!

According to IBM’s 2011 CIO report of 3,000 global companies, more than 80% identified business analytics from big data as their top priority for business competitiveness.

Technology guru Graham Oakes says that 90% of the data ever created has been created in the last two years.

Traditional Conference Data Collected

Mining that data set seems obvious to most business professionals and entrepreneurs in order to make future strategic decisions. However, many conference organizers only look at traditional inputs and outputs like expenses and revenue, attendance, exhibitors and sponsors.

Some organizers create weekly updates that compare attendance and sponsorship numbers to the past couple of year’s conference trends. Yet that is not enough in a real-time data driven world.

Going Where The Puck Will Be

Meeting and event professionals need to become the Wayne Gretzkys of their field. Wayne Gretzky, labeled the greatest hockey player ever, said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Great conference organizers need to skate to where the puck is going to be. They will use big data to plan meetings that will be where their future customers will want to be. They will plan programming that will be exactly where their potential customers’ needs will be. Their conference planning will revolve around where the puck is going next, not where it has been!

Great conference organizers will begin using big data to capture what potential attendees are interested in by aggregating what content they consume and collect on the web. From the data, they can gauge what type of content has their customers’ attention and what they’re committing time to learn more about. They can find the pain points of their customers and plan content to attract audiences with solutions.

Great conference organizers look at repeat loyalty (how many individuals attended at least two of the past three annual meetings) and then research why people are not returning to their conference every year. They will adjust their planning to re-attract those that are not returning.

Great conference organizers review speaker evaluations to improve the quality of their education offerings. They use predictive analysis to forecast which speaker and topics will resonate with their audiences.

Great conference organizers will step out from their desks of logistics, pause, reflect and take a deep breath. They will be more intentional about the questions they ask. They will ask deeper questions than “did you like or dislike” because sentiment data is available in recommendations, personal profiles and online communities. They will link analytics to the decisions they make and ultimately the bottom line.

Choose Your Path Wisely

As a meeting professional, you have to ask yourself if you want to be a strategic player that will begin to collect and use big data or you want to be administrative staff that counts coffee cups, tables and chairs. It’s up to you whether you want to be known as “Great Conference Organizer” that plans where the customers will be or plans according to last years’ numbers.

With hat tips to Marcia Conner’s Fast Company article Time To Build Big Data Muscles.

What types of data do you currently collect and analyze for your conference and event planning? What tools do you need to better collect and analyze conference data?

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  1. Yes and using that data to uncover their real pain points is where you want to talk to speakers about delivering content attendees want to consume – VS what are the popular topics regurgitate at every conference.

  2. […] Traditionally, conferences have relied on data through batch processing. The organizers take a chunk of data and send it to the server to wait for delivery of results. This works when the incoming data rate is slower than the data processing rate and when the result is useful despite the delay. With new sources of data from social and mobile apps, the traditional batch process disintegrates. Real time, near real time, periodic and batch are all velocity rates conference organizers need to consider. […]

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