Event Management and the Cloud
Cloud computing is the delivery of shared resources, software and information over the Internet. It is a relatively new delivery model for IT services and provides users with a completely different way to use and manage their IT software and platforms. A common way to use cloud computing is to subscribe, or pay a monthly fee to use a particular software solution. Instead of the software being installed on a user’s computer directly, the user accesses the software remotely, via their web browser.
Some of the generic benefits of cloud computing include:
- Cost: Cost can be greatly reduced since capital expenditure is converted to operational expenditure, lowering the barriers to entry
- Local Independence: Users can access systems using a web browser, regardless of their location or device they are using
- Scalability and Peak Load Capacity: Using software on the cloud means that companies can manage peaks in demand with ease
- Reliability: Reliability is improved making is a safer option with regards to disaster recovery
- Maintenance: This is easier on cloud computing since the software is not installed on the user’s computer; meaning that support and upgrades are managed and taken on by the provider themselves.
Event managers are able to take advantage of cloud computing and use it to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of their events.
Two of the most popular cloud software solutions for event managers are:
Google Docs is a fantastic example of cloud computing. Traditionally, working off a master document on a conventional server or network could cause many issues, such as:
- Not knowing if you’re working on the most recent version
- Only one person at a time being able to gain access
- Only those working on the server/network would be able to access the document
- Issues with duplication
However, hosting documents on the cloud means that key members of the event team (and external partners and suppliers) can access documents at any time from any place (Internet connection pending). There’s no limit to the number of people who can view the document at any time, updates are made in real time, and there are no issues with document duplication. Additionally, hosting documents on the cloud is also safer, since they are not relying on the security of the network or server they would normally be kept on.
Event Management Software
Event software is starting to play a key role in the organisation and management of events. Comprehensive event management software includes features such as:
Website integration: event software should seamlessly integrate with your existing website without the need to re-design or re-brand
Online Registration: event management software should allow event managers to create a fully customisable online booking form capturing the most relevant information from your delegates
Event Communication: Clear and targeted communication to your delegate audience is crucial, the event system should include integrated event communication tools such as email marketing, invitation and surveys
Event Badges: One of the most time consuming jobs for an event manager is production of delegate badges. Event software enables personalised badges to be created pre or during the event simply and quickly
Event Resource Management: Simply manage and allocate all resources through a comprehensive calendar feature, providing total control of all aspects of the event management process
Event Financials: Technology enables event managers to offer a variety of options for delegates to securely pay online with confidence, providing ease of use via automation
Event Reporting: Determining the true ROI from events can be determined and managed through a powerful reporting and analysis suite
Event Scheduler: Manage and schedule multi-faceted one to one meetings for your delegates and suppliers simply and efficiently
Venue Management Software: Flexible venue planning and scheduling tools that manages the event facility no matter what type of events are being hosted
Document Management: An easy way to publish and manage speaker abstracts and biographies
Event software can help event managers create more effective, successful events. Research has shown that during the current economic downfall, many event companies have begun to take advantage of the benefits of automation and event technology to help stay afloat. Increasing efficiency and reducing the cost of hosting events is helping to increase the return on investment provided to both the event company and to the delegates attending.
A cloud based event management solution offers the opportunity for event managers to manage event teams and service delegate and booker requests, from any location at any time. At the same time, event promotions, bookings, cancellations and updates can also be undertaken using the internet as the key delivery vehicle.
From the event managers point of view, event management software on the cloud will take care of high volumes of outbound transaction (email newsletters, invitations, etc) and inbound transactions (event bookings, modifications, cancellations, etc), saving time and money, whilst giving delegates a smoother and improved experience.
From a management point of view, a cloud based event management solution provides the mechanism to be in real time control of all of events activities – event managers are able to get an accurate view of the state of active events, what stage particular event marketing campaigns are at and the feedback being received on your on-going events programme. Third party partners – trainers, speakers, sponsors, caterers, venue managers, etc – can also be granted easy access, in a secure fashion, to the event related details that they need access to and can respond to any event changes that affect them, again on a real time basis.
Having a cloud based event management solution in place opens up significant opportunities for integrating the solution with complimentary applications and solutions both internally and externally. For example:
- Finance applications
- Customer and contact management solutions
- Partner websites
- Third party online payment providers
- Social networking environments
With a cloud based event management solution, the management of events becomes wholly a business issue with the IT issues being handled by the cloud application provider. The availability of the events management solution, the backing up and securing of data, as well as the scalability of the solution in times of peak activities are all handled, transparently, by the cloud application provider.