Why is Data so Valuable at an Event?

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Since we are talking about Data, let's start this blog post out with some data about data, and its disruption across industry. According to a report by Capgemini that surveyed over 1,000 senior decision makers in nine industries; 64% of companies believe that big data is changing traditional business boundaries, 58% expect to face increased competition from start-ups enabled by data, and 24% of companies report disruption from new companies moving into their industry. What does this data mean? Basically, that if you are not collecting data that delivers relevant and pertinent insights to your company, you are leaving the door open for more data driven companies to enter your market.

How is this relevant for events? Events are full of actionable insights. Corporate Events and Industry Tradeshows are an opportunity for attendees, sponsors and organizing companies to collect data around interests, products, people, and their industry as a whole? So why aren't more companies making data collection an essential part of their event experience?

How about looking at the past to help us understand the future. Before there were websites and registration platforms, there were fax machines and alphabetically organized sheets of paper with every registrants information. Who isn't happy that is gone? Before there were mobile apps, there were lots of handouts of schedules, maps, and other information that organizers thought would help their attendees. But let's be honest, attendees still asked the temp staff where they needed to go. Lastly, before there were scanners, there were just business cards. And while some companies still encourage the use of business cards, the majority of people don't even bring them to events.

The industry has made great strides, but there is still such a long way to go. So much data is being lost that could contribute to real insights for each of the three stakeholders at an event (attendee, sponsor, and event organizer). As an attendee, I go to an event to learn, to network and to come home with information that will help my business make better buying decisions. But right now, there is no way for me to collect that data unless I sit there and keep a folder of stuff beautifully organized with handout material, business cards, and notes. That's just not going to happen.

As a sponsor, I send a couple people from my sales and marketing team to set up these beautiful booths that are supposed to attract potential buyers. My company spends between $10k - $100k to be there. Yet, I still rely on some flash-in-the-pan game to attract people, and then I might scan them if I get around to it, or possibly, I might get a business card. How many potential leads do I really lose? Not only from missed conversations, but also from lack of information about the interest of the attendee.

Lastly, as an event organizer, I am spending millions upon millions of company dollars on this event where my company will bring in our best customers and potential new customers for a unique opportunity to get face to face relationship building time. Yet, despite all of this time, energy and money to get these attendees to our event I don't know anything about how they interacted with our sales team, our products and other attendees. In essence, my company just spent millions of dollars on a marketing campaign that collected ZERO data. Is that good business practices? Where are the CMO's?

The truth is, events are the single largest marketing program where companies get a chance to collect real data, get actionable insights, and build robust relationships with customers. This is true for the attendee, the sponsor and the event organizer. This is no longer a nice to have, this is a must have. This is how companies take advantage of the opportunities presented to them at events and show their teams that events are the best opportunity to get real, actionable data.

Technology exists right now for this type of data collection. There is RFID, there are scanners, there is near-field-communication tools. But none of those take a holistic approach that provides data for every stakeholder at an event. Beacons are a start, and mobile apps are an additional tool, but the only technology that provides the insights for everyone, is Loopd. This bluetooth LE, two-way communication platform enables every stakeholder to walk home with relevant data. This data can be synthesized into information that helps companies better understand the value of their events to attendees and sponsors alike.

Instead of just shrugging off new technology in the event space, or thinking of data collection as a nice to have, event organizers should be thinking about how each event will help their organization achieve their growth goals. They should be thinking about how collecting data will help them better understand their customers, help them give their sponsors more value, and help them continue to lead the way in their industry...through data.