Data is probably the single most important asset available to the modern marketeer. Online or offline, data helps you understand your audience, target appropriately, and evaluate what you have achieved. Marc Michaels, Director of Direct Marketing and Evaluation, COI For every organisation, there is an imperative to measure: be this HR statistics, i.e. attendance, satisfaction, […]
Monthly Archives: May 2011
We’re going on an efficiency drive…
Just the phrase is guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of any employee or organisation. And with justification as this has become the thinly-veiled way of saying “we need to make budgetary savings and the easiest way to do this is by cutting our largest expense” – i.e. the labour-force.
While fiscal pressures may mean that production needs to be cut back to match a shrinking order book, and consequently less manpower is required, but shouldn’t this be a last resort rather than a first? If an organisation sheds valuable intellectual capital and/or the means to re-engineer its operation too quickly, can it ever recover its place in the market or reputation for delivery of excellence.
The dictionary definition of efficiency is that it is the state or quality of being efficient, and interestingly the definition of this word suggests that efficiency is achieved more by interrogating systems and working patterns than simply slicing numbers off the bottom line.
(esp. of a system or machine) Achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.
(of a person) Working in a well-organized and competent way.
Organisations that top the efficiency leagues come in all shapes and sizes, but a common denominator between them is that they also tend to top the best places to work lists as well. Their employees feel involved and able to contribute to discussion and decision-making processes: the organisation benefits by being able to tap into a wealth of knowledge and experience that can deliver custom-fit best practice… and efficiency.
By moving from a top-down decision-making to a collaborative process, board-rooms can exploit the experience of all areas of their operation, allowing innovation to spring up from every quarter and be properly dissected and discussed. The difficulty for large organisations (small ones really don’t have any excuse unless they have multiple office sites) is how to action this process effectively.
Large scale meetings don’t really fit the bill because: a) they are expensive; and b) only the people with the loudest voices get to contribute unless they are very carefully designed. Enter the virtual business solution… companies like Cisco, HP, Kaiser Permanente and GE have been using this technology for some time now to enable effective communication that reduces time out of the office, carbon footprint and the timelag in disseminating a message to a large number of people while increasing knowledge, motivation and challenging the efficacy of existing working practices.
If ever there was an efficent way to drive the efficiency agenda – this is it.
Humans, if nothing else, are creatures of habit. Which goes a long way to explaining why it can take a seemingly inordinate amount of time to introduce a new business practice or why the first reaction to change is often resistance.
The development of the Virtual Experience Platform has followed a path that has taken this need for security in acquaintance into account. The first iterations of the technology frequently been labelled Virtual Event Platforms: two-thirds of which are clearly understood by the majority of the business population and one-third which requires but a little explanation.
By creating an environment online which replicates much of what we would experience (except the transport delays, bad coffee and lack of seating) at a live event, early pioneers of virtual events have been able to cross that line from innovation to familiarity in a very short period of time. With an inherent understanding, participants know that to view a presentation they must navigate to the auditorium, to participate in a moderated chat they must go to a meeting room and that in the exhibition halls they will find organisations and their representatives promoting their products and services on digital booths.
And therein lies the difficulty. To many, the term Booth just doesn’t cut the mustard. It says static and without innovation, like the Grandma at a teenager’s party.
The discussion Are trade show booths in a virtual event really relevant any more? was started on LinkedIn by Richard Feldman in the Virtual Events and Meeting Technology group and has already managed to traverse into other virtual events related groups on the site. Amongst the comments about the unsatisfactory nature of the Booth in the virtual environments are some that would be awfully familiar to a live event producer: lack of information and content from the booth owner; and the need to illustrate real ROI, particularly where the booth has been paid for as part of a sponsorship package. A number of individuals comment that sponsoring companies should be scattered around the virtual environment for best exposure rather than having a single site presence (aka a Booth) – but why can’t they have both?
Which brings us to another conundrum… if you aren’t going to have Booths at your virtual event, what are you going to have to push your delegates to part of the site that the sponsor owns, you can’t have lists and links need to go somewhere… You need to create an area that the sponsor owns and can create as their own. Ideally you should be using one of the high performing platforms such as 6Connex, Ubivent, On24 or InXpo that allow this creative and design flexibility so that Booths don’t necessarily have to look like… well Booths.
Perhaps this is one of those chicken and egg discussions, where we pretty sure that we aren’t happy with the status quo, but there doesn’t seem to be a suitable, more effective or as easily understood alternative. Rather than concentrating our energies on trying to find a ‘booth-alternative’ shouldn’t we be focusing on getting clients and participants enthused and engaged in the concept of creating great, relevant content for the virtual audiences?
*Booth = Stand