From a technology perspective, it’s been a wonderful and exciting journey for meeting planners. In the past 20 years, we have gone from running our meetings by index card, spreadsheet and fax to automated systems that practically run your meetings without human intervention! OK, that’s a stretch, but you get the general idea.
Today’s meeting technology solutions make it easier than ever to build registration sites, publish mobile apps, create name badges and run all those pesky reports that we all need.
But, no matter how you slice it or dice it, your meeting technology solutions are, in the end, NOT Mary Poppins. Today’s meeting technology is smarter than ever, but in many ways, not smart at all.
Many technologies in use today still make you, the meeting planner, dig and hunt for the data you need. If our technology was really all that smart, it’d be telling us in advance where challenges and issues were heading.
Nothing is worse than getting a Saturday afternoon phone call from an irate attendee, complaining that they can’t reserve a hotel room, the website says it is sold out! Wouldn’t it be great if we got proactively notified that you were running out of hotel rooms?
Everyone claims their technology is flexible and customizable. However, being able to add a few custom fields doesn’t really solve serious requirements for custom workflows and procedures, does it?
And that is the real crux of the issue.
Meeting solutions are built around a series of assumptions and processes. The software publisher designs a workflow and set of solutions that THEY think solves your problems.
If it were only so…
If you company operates in a different way, or if you have unique workflows and procedures for how you operate, you are typically out of luck. You are asked to adapt to the processes your technology offers, or simply suffer the consequences of not getting the work done the way you need it.
The end result is that our meeting management practices are a series of compromises, kludges and frustrated attempts to get our work done.
It’s NOT practically perfect in every way! Mary Poppins would not be happy!
So, where do go from here? What do our future solutions look like?
Fortunately, the industry is seeing great promise in the latest generation of meetings technology. For the first time, there is radically new architecture in the design and delivery of these solutions.
In the past few years, we’ve seen the explosion of mobile technology, apps and SAAS solutions (software as a service). In other words, no box CDs, DVDs or huge downloads of executable files.
Instead, we have apps.
Today, we not only seeing apps on our mobile devices, but technology delivered to your PC in exactly the same fashions. These apps install from a web URL, are lightweight, quick to download, quick to install, and are easily updateable.
That’s not all, however.
Apps uses architecture that is much easier to program for, adapt to, and much more.
Today, for the first time, we are seeing meeting registration technology that provide an open architecture so meeting planners can create custom apps. In other words, one can take the standard registration tool, and easily build custom solutions that provide you with unique and powerful customized workflows.
You can now get the work done the way you need it!
Remember, data is simply that, data. Data can exist in your core technology…it’s how you work with that data, collect it, report it, process it, display it that is unique and custom.
This is the future, and the future is here! Mary Poppins would be pleased.