Data is king. Every marketer knows it but too often valuable hours are wasted compiling hundreds of data points into a useful format when the time could be used to analyze the metrics and show real results faster and more efficiently. How you ask can I analyze without having first compiled? Welcome to the 21st century event peeps and meet your new best friend: the dashboard. It lets your event management software do the counting so you can do what you do best.
As you know a “dashboard” is an interface that gives you a real-time view into a web-based event management software program that acts as a warehouse for your data. It is accessible from anywhere your event teams are activating and anywhere you are working. Field staffers upload the data collected from your events to the dashboard as frequently as is needed (often daily). The manager can then check status troubleshoot problems provide progress reports to clients and upload leads at the speed of download. No more long Sunday nights entering consumer demographics into a spreadsheet before the Monday morning meeting. Instead you will have spent your time more wisely evaluating the data and developing meaningful conclusions.
There are two basic categories of data: event management which covers staff communications troubleshooting and day-by-day progress reports; and analytic platforms which process your custom-defined measurement needs into user-friendly formats saving time and human resources. There are several comprehensive platforms that will handle both of these types of work and it is up to the agency or brand to decide what will work best.
Event Management. Now more than ever agencies and brand marketers are expected to do more with fewer resources. Steve Fry coo of event management platform provider Spindustry says that through automation less time is spent on what is going on and more can be spent on why. He likens it to mission control at the home office monitoring several “missions” at a time. “In the old days ” he says “brands wanted to see cool pictures of consumers interacting with a brand as a result of an event or program. Now even executives are being called on the carpet to prove ROI. Brands have to ensure success.”
A dashboard can do this he says. First of all by allowing for on-the-fly repairs. If something is not working be it a staffer who doesn’t get the message or an exit survey question that indicates visitors didn’t like one aspect of the event that kind of problem can be addressed in almost real-time because the intel is coming back to mission control daily via the web-based platform.
ActiveEvents which makes another web-based platform is in the business of efficiency too. Eric Olsen senior director of strategy for the company says his clients were frequently having to use several vendors to manage staff inventory and other elements of events. With a dashboard the clients have a one-stop shop.
“A dashboard has to save time and money through automating routine tasks for the agency or brand using it ” he says. “It also needs to drive performance and event strategy through increased transparency. The software needs to be technology that will allow event professionals to execute an event then justify it to the cmos and ceos who are requiring better measurement.”
Doug Duncan director-experiential planning at Usmp a division of The Marketing Arm has been using dashboards for two years. “The strongest competitive tool we have is the experiences we create and this reporting tool helps us see what works and [then] do it ” he says.
Analytics. For now web-based event management technologies or dashboards seem to be almost a panacea for metrics and on-the-spot troubleshooting. But as the technology develops it will be able to extend the life of an event by managing social media and word-of-mouth tracking according to Fry. Dashboards should be quick-hitting and actionable but they cannot replace full data analysis post-event says Craig Steensma ceo of event technology firm eShots. “The dashboard has to become a virtual safe for asset and lead management during events so they are organized for prompt and efficient follow-up.” em