Over the years, we’ve seen a strong focus on event marketing technology, and this has never been truer than in the virtual and hybrid world of events. IT has always played a critical role in decision-making and planning your events strategy, and in turn, your overall marketing and corporate engagement strategy.
Even as more events return to an in-person format, the value of virtual and hybrid events continues to be critical for your total event program. Decisions about event marketing technology, event platform capabilities, integrations with corporate systems, and technology stack have never been more influential. This is true regardless the size and types of your event programs.
As technology advances to support all three event formats – in-person, virtual, and hybrid – audience expectations are also rising. This means that marketing and event professionals are now expected to capture that engagement and build their pipelines while managing complex programs and internal teams.
Let’s address some of the key issues and challenges your event teams may face when implementing or integrating event technology into your existing infrastructure.
Challenges with Legacy and New Event Marketing Technology
The new events landscape, accelerated by the pandemic, has led to a shift from an in-person events world to one that mixes it up – in-person to virtual to hybrid. It accelerated the digitization of events as well as event marketing technology. Most events that were previously completely in-person have now moved online.
But how do organizations today get their different systems and islands of data talking to each other so that the end attendee experience makes sense? Interconnecting different technologies to make programs function is a challenge for companies. The right event management platform can help handle different data sets in making sure that things flow as seamlessly as possible.
Previously, with just in-person or virtual events, organizations had to focus on singular event experiences. But hybrid events have taken the operational challenges up by a few notches. A lot more IT involvement is required in planning for hybrid events. Contingency planning is strongly recommended by IT teams, and organizations need to have their marketing and IT teams connected via a virtual war room during the day of the event. It is also crucial to have an excellent understanding of the venue network to choose the right venue in terms of safety and accessibility to the latest technologies.
Make sure your team is prepared for any technical difficulties, including on your online platform and at your in-person venue. When little, unexpected issues pop up during a live event, you need to be quick to react. If things go wrong in the virtual feed and your audience lets you know in the chat, you must have someone from your marketing or IT team to make quick, important decisions on the spot.
Balancing Technology Decisions with ROI
Your event marketing teams are always trying to find ways to make events impactful for your customers and prospects. Therefore, it’s very easy for costs to pile up as brands get aspirational and competition runs high. But when reality kicks in, you try to rationalize those costs and translate their value. As your teams start putting things together, you evaluate your requirements. For example, do you really need to pay for network redundancy, and is it worth the expense?
So, how do you inform your technology decisions based on ROI? How quickly does that ROI need to be realized to be justified for evaluation, purchasing, and implementation of technology? And how do your IT teams work with procurement teams to justify some of those investments?
A lot of those decisions might depend on their respective risks and values. Such decisions must be made jointly by marketing and IT teams based on the risks that companies are willing to take. But you must have a baseline that you can then adapt based on the outcome and value. Such conversations with your CEO or CFO are crucial, but your IT team can help put that into perspective.
Beyond Data Security
Today, data security is paramount and top of mind for everyone working in IT teams and even those writing code. In addition to ensuring that your organization aligns with government standards and guidelines (e.g., GDPR, GLBA, ISO 27701), there are many other considerations – especially as events gather so much individual information – that you must look for in the right event platform:
- Assess third-party providers for how they handle data security. Do they have the necessary security compliances in place?
- IT and procurement teams must work hand in hand to make sure that all the necessary data security bases are covered in new contracts. It could be as minor as requesting SOC reports or penetration testing reports.
- IT teams need to deep dive into the results of such security reports to check loopholes that show exposure to risks and must make decisions about whether those risks are worth potential costs.
- Organizations must only put relevant information into their event platforms. If your marketing teams need to add things later, you should have the flexibility to extend those, but only keep meaningful data to get results.
- At the end of third-party contracts, make sure that your organization can delete or remove information to ensure the safety of your customers’ data.
Ultimately, your organization and your customers’ needs are unique. You operate in a particular industry; must comply with different regulations than others; and interact with attendees, stakeholders, and prospects with unique needs. So, your event management platform must be flexible enough to get through different security certifications based on your legal, security, and data privacy teams.
Whether you need data consent from attendees who are just registering for your event or checking in later, your event platform must have those features that can be adjusted based on last-minute requirements and different touchpoints you have along the way. You should also be able to remove all or any user data at any time.
There is so much to consider when unifying various platforms, including security, scalability, commercialization, security architecture, hosting, data management, APIs, and integration, among others. This calls for strategic thinking when trying to bring it all together. Make sure you have the right implementation partner and a dedicated project manager who does not shy away from pointing things out when timelines get condensed.
You must also bring your IT teams early into these conversations, as they will help you focus on the end goal and keep things backed up and in place on the final day of your event. Having a professional events services team can also help with business analysis and help navigate the configurations in your events platform and integrate necessary tools into your various systems.
Marketing and IT: A Necessary Conversation
So, as a non-techie marketing team, how do you talk to your IT departments about the importance of event technology that you need to implement to support your events? Simply start by involving your IT teams as early as possible in these conversations. They will not only help save a lot of time but will also provide a reality check on various security risks involved.
And as part of the IT department, how do you collaborate with your non-tech counterparts on such decisions? While you should listen to your marketing teams to adapt and partner, you must also ask necessary questions. You must feel free to voice concerns about possible challenges along the way and what contingencies need to be planned for as early as possible.
Ultimately, open communication and a collaborative approach between both teams is critical for your event success. As event marketing professionals, when you give your IT teams the context of your business goals, better solutions are found, and you can avoid unideal situations that may not work at the eleventh hour.
In these ever-changing times, having a flexible events platform that can adapt and change on the dime when necessary is also crucial – say, pivoting from an in-person to a virtual event, or from a large user conference to a regional seminar or an event with a smaller footprint. Make sure your event technology platform is nimble enough to shift inside the timeframe you contracted for to meet the changing needs of your organization – anytime, anywhere – and don’t forget to involve your IT teams when you do so.