Meeting professional face a tall technology order today.
More conferences are placing a high priority on using technology that not only improves the attendee experience, extends its reach, and streamlines processes, but fits into their organizations’ overall digital strategy. It’s a tall order for meeting professionals.
Today, planners are expected to have a grasp on the latest technology solutions and social-media platforms and understand how they can be put to use to improve their events. If you’re lucky, you have a great resource: an IT team that is savvy, progressive, and eager to collaborate with you. In the absence of such a resource, you and your organization may develop an event techno-mindset that leads to poor choices. Here are five troublesome ways of thinking.
Five Technology Mindsets
This mindset, most frequently found in large organizations, starts with the premise that your business is so unique that no off-the-shelf, configurable solution will do. These organizations opt for highly customized solutions designed around existing processes. Continued improvement that supports new processes or emerging technology almost always proves to be costly, if not impossible to implement.
Whenever possible, always choose technology that allows you to examine and configure software to leverage the best practices of other power users. Never build when you can lease or buy.
Also most common in large organizations, this frame of mind is based on the notion that every transaction and process must dynamically feed the enterprise system. Staff efficiency is often placed ahead of the customer experience. Customers are required to learn new processes and remember login information that they seldom use.
Don’t overthink your digital plumbing. Your large annual meeting — that happens only once a year — will rarely deliver ROI for all of your integration efforts. Integration resources are better applied to processes and customer experiences that take place every day of the year.
Also known as shiny-object syndrome, this mentality is most often found in smaller organizations that purchase modules they don’t need or use. Too many new and competing technologies are implemented in one conference cycle. These organizations do not conduct enough due diligence to ensure that technology decisions are around long enough to deliver a return on their investment.
Most technology decisions need to be in place for three or more years in order for the organization to receive the full benefit of their investment. Do your homework and consider your switching costs before you purchase.
4) Ready, Fire, Aim
The mistaken approach that is most often taken with new technology roll-outs starts out with the best of intentions. A strong business case is rarely made before purchase. It’s quickly followed with insufficient training and a poor implementation plan. System knowledge is not documented. If the one employee in-the-know gets hit by a bus or moves onto greener pastures, it sends your organization into a tailspin.
Nearly all technology implementations should include a phased rollout. Executive buy-in and support is a must. You get that support best when you develop a business case for the investment and then report back on the results versus the plan.
5) If It’s Not Broken…
This is the most dangerous techno-mindset. Associations receive 35 percent or more of their revenue from conferences. It’s rare to find technology budgets proportionate to this revenue contribution. Organizations that apply Band-Aids to existing solutions — or put off adopting new technologies because they’re too busy working on projects that contribute less to their business — are setting themselves up for a fall.
Customers like to do business with progressive and innovative companies. Your most valuable customers are the usually the ones attending premium conferences. They deserve the best. Leverage technology to improve their experience and perception.
What are some ways to get executives and its leaders to endorse one or more of these technology mindsets? Which of these mindsets do you think is the most difficult to deal with?
Adapted from Dave’s Forward Thinking column in PCMA’s Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. ©2012.