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Choosing the best meetings technology: platform or deck?

It’s a dilemma facing every meeting planner. Do you opt for a company offering comprehensive tech solutions (a platform) – or pick a ‘deck’ of different vendors to try to get the very best technology for every single purpose.

Both options having potential strengths and weaknesses. Let’s explore them.

The platform

A platform is essentially an operating system. As it applies to event technology, it refers to companies providing a comprehensive technology solution to address many aspects of the meeting planning process (i.e. registration, event website, marketing, scheduling, logistics management, content management, speaker management and often more).

Planners will use this platform to meet most or all of their event tech needs.

Classic platform examples are Cvent and Aventri (formerly etouches). They have grown to be large companies and continue to grow through acquisitions of technology they don’t already possess. Event tech behemoth Cvent, for example, has made around 20 such acquisitions.

Strengths

  • One of the benefits is one-stop shopping for your tech needs. You decide on the vendor and choose from the broad menu of technology offerings they have. Fewer vendors means less negotiation.
  • In an ideal world, there should be seamless data integration among all the technology products within the company.
  • In an ideal world, the user interface should feel the same among all the varied technology products therefore requiring less training. The look and feel should be the same among the various product subsets

Weaknesses

  • It is a huge technology task for a company to cover all aspects of the needs of all types of meetings. This is an enormously complex challenge!
  • Historically, data integration has been a harder task, especially for older, legacy systems. To be fair, both of the large companies mentioned have worked diligently on updating their code and on data integration with some good progress on those goals.
  • For some meetings, dealing with these mega companies with thousands of employees may be more than is needed for small, simple events in terms of cost and complexity.

 

It should be noted there are platform options, such as EventsAir ,that have not been built through acquisition. EventsAir, formerly Amlink (one of the first event tech products in 1984), is a full-featured event planning platform that has been completely rewritten for cloud-based delivery. They combine the benefits listed above, while providing good data integration as well.

The deck

 

Strengths

  • It can be possible to choose the ‘best of breed’ specific tech solution to meet your exact needs. This can be less expensive and more targeted to the specific planning needs.
  • Technology innovation is flourishing with new ideas popping up frequently. They are often start-up ventures. This option does not lock you into one big system that may be slower to respond to new developments.
  • There is significant progress being made in terms of data integration

Weaknesses

  • Finding multiple suppliers is time consuming
  • Using products from different suppliers may require more in-house training
  • Historically, one of the biggest challenges is that there has been a lack of easy data integration among the different products – leading to a failure to easily collect data from multiple sources about specific attendee journeys and collectively to improve the overall event. This, however, is changing…

Data management systems are maturing to the point where the idea of an integrated tech deck is much more realistic. With state-of-the-art cloud-based event technology systems and advanced APIs (application programming interfaces), it is now possible to collect and analyze onsite data and connect them with CRM tools such as SalesForce.com – closing the loop from a marketing standpoint. Interoperability is at the center with much of the change that is happening.

So, which is a planner to choose: the platform or the deck? Both paths have their strengths and challenges. The good news is both paths are providing much better data integration and analytics options to broaden the options and improve events.

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Corbin Ball is a speaker and independent consultant focusing on meetings technology. www.corbinball.com, www.twitter.com/corbinball