5Q With Cvent's Anil Punyapu
Published in Business Travel News
June 02, 2011
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Meetings technology firm Cvent plans to release during the third quarter several modifications to its strategic meetings management technology solution, including a module for pharmaceutical and life sciences companies. Since releasing its enterprise SMM solution in January 2009, the company has signed "over 40 enterprise clients," including John Deere, Alcatel-Lucent and Roche, which should "dispel the myth that Cvent is just for the midmarket," said vice president of enterprise sales Anil Punyapu. Punyapu recently spoke with Management.travel's Chris Davis about the progress of SMM, the challenges of globalization and the future of enterprise technology. An edited excerpt follows.
Were you specifically targeting larger corporations with the SMM product?
Absolutely. When we started the enterprise solution, it was to go after large companies. It was designed with the flexibility to implement for large customers multi-country, multi-office, everything. Enterprise sales and enterprise meetings is the fastest growing area of Cvent. We've invested quite a bit into it, and it quickly has become over 10 percent of our business. We see it as a trend across the marketplace. Every time there's a recession, companies contract. The minute the recession is over, they increase productivity with the tools and the manpower that they have, and add more manpower and tools, and increase output. That's what we saw in 2010, and that's what we're seeing in 2011: this drive by companies, especially large companies, to purchase and implement technology. We're benefiting from it, and a number of companies in our space are, as well.
Considering the competition, is the pie of new clients interested in implementing SMM big enough for everyone?
We're still very much in fledgling stages of meetings management. The concept of SMM is not something that applies just for the top 100 companies; it applies to the global 5,000. We've seen quite a bit of success with large companies, but a lot of success in the midmarket as well, those with $1 billion to $6 billion in sales. Out of those 40 [clients], 25 to 30 came out of [the midmarket]. We're starting to see more companies interested. It's a major area of growth, and the pie is so wide that between all of the companies in our space, there's probably only 10 percent penetration in the marketplace.
What have been the biggest challenges to implementation overseas?
The biggest challenge internationally is adoption. It was about being able to provide the service and support for the market to adopt the tool. We have a supplier response team on the site selection and sourcing side of 30-plus people, and that team's whole goal is to get hotels and other venues to respond to RFPs. A company would send an RFP through the tool, and there's nobody to help them at the property understand and adopt the system and respond to the RFP. We faced this challenge first in the U.S. when we launched our sourcing tool in 2009, so we knew about it going into Europe. This team calls them up and says, "You've received an RFP, will you respond to it?" We have 85-plus percent response rates around the world, including countries like China. The online registration tool helped build a name for Cvent in the marketplace, but helped us learn how to localize service and software to different countries.
Once implemented, how do you get the end user planner overseas to actually use the tool?
We're seeing more corporations going away from mandates and toward voluntary programs. The culture nationally and internationally is changing. I did a presentation recently in Chicago and asked the attendees if they had a mandate style in their organizations, where management tells you what to do, and out of 25 people from big companies only two raised their hands. I would bet that five or 10 years ago that number would have been 15 to 20. But more employees are remote employees, more are from the next generation, and the idea of a corporate mandate is just not there. We're capitalizing on it by taking away repetitive tasks.
How do you see the remainder of 2011 and 2012 developing?
One term I heard at a recent conference was "consumerization of the enterprise." It's a very powerful topic. There are so many companies focused on just the enterprise, but if employees--and meetings is a very people- and employee-centric process, just like travel is--demanded to do something a certain way, then the corporation will have will have to adopt that into its overall process. That's why we're focusing so much on social media, networking internally and externally, and mobile-friendly solutions. We're focusing on constantly simplifying the solution itself. In our next release coming out this summer, we're focusing on simplifying the budgeting process. It's one of the hardest things, and meeting planners do not like it. That's one of our major goals. In our next major release, we'll also make the product more mobile-friendly. Right now, you can register on an iPad, for example, and you can set up and run a meeting on an iPad. But we want to help develop apps that enhance the attendee experience as well.