The onsite meeting used to be known as the “black hole” of event data management. . Planners used computers to gain insights before and after events, but during an event they were “flying blind.” For example, paper surveys were handed out, but tallying wasn’t completed until after the event – not in time to make mid-course corrections.
Emerging Data Collection Tools
Now, it is possible for every touch on a mobile event app to be tracked, scored and rated. Social media channels can be monitored and incorporated into the mix. Onsite “likes” and mobile polling and survey tools can be scored in real time. Meeting planners and event marketers can know immediately answers to the following questions:
What are trending hot topics?
Who are the top speakers?
What exhibit booths have the most attendance?
What speakers/exhibitors are “liked” the most?
Who are the key connectors/influencers?
What are the attendees’ ratings on specific survey and/or polling questions?
With coming advances in geo-positioning and beacon technology, it will be possible for every attendee movement to be monitored precisely (usually with permission from the attendee) to yield even more data. This includes:
What is the crowd flow through an exhibit hall? Where are the hot spots and where are they not?
What are the “dwell times” of specific attendees in front of specific exhibitor booths? (For example: an attendee would be likely more interested in an exhibit if the stood at a booth for 15 minutes compared to just walking by. This is very valuable information for exhibitors to know who specifically are interested in their product or service. It could also be useful for attendees to be able to generate a list of the exhibit booths visited and the amount of time spent with each of them.)
Where are queues forming for registration, food and/or transportation in order to send reinforcements?
Who is in the meeting room? (This could be useful for many purposes including automated CEU tracking or to send pop-up messages targeted only to attendees in the room to open up a room-specific mobile poll.)
This real-time collection of onsite data can be a goldmine of information to gain insights for event improvement, to make midcourse corrections, to engage participants and to provide more targeted marketing
The Next Step: Data Analytics
With better onsite data collection tools than ever before; the next challenge will be finding useful, real time analytic tools to interpret these data. Many mobile event app companies are beginning to provide easy-to-understand real-time analytic tools. For example mobile app DoubleDutch’s Event Performance tool can provide real-time sentiment analysis with specific tools to measure engagement and “happiness.”
GenieConnect (recently purchased by Lanyon), provides an event portal and event app system that provides a range of analytic and marketing tools as well.
Attendee management companies such as Certain Software, Cvent and Lanyon are developing event intelligence tracking through their systems.
Beyond this, there are other emerging analytic tools. IBM’s Watson Analytics (makers of the super computer that won the TV Jeopardy contest), now offers a freemium “super computer” data analytics tool. Up to 50 columns by 100,000 rows of data per upload can be analyzed for free! Included in the feature set are simplified graphing and analysis tool to more easily see trends and tell the story to others.
These “big data” tools can provide very useful business insights about what is happening at an event. …And in time to make a mid-course correction if needed!
The field of data analytics is a rapidly growing and evolving one. The costs will continue to fall and the insights gained will be quicker and deeper. Attendees are already carrying around the sensor and engagement tools in their pockets (smart phones with mobile event apps). Now is the time for meeting planners and technology providers to take these data collection and analytic tools to the next step to more fully implement them to improve the quality of the event.