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Now That We’ve Found Data, What Are We Gonna Do With It?

data analysis event organizers

Event organizers know much more today than they used to about all the ways to collect data. And, it’s almost a given that for any new software to be viable, data collection and reporting has to be part of the value proposition. But, now that we’ve arrived at the point where event data is plentiful, what’s an organizer to do?

Lock Down Usage

According to a number of my colleagues, data experts like John Federico, Rob Miller, and Joe Colangelo, when event organizers contract with technology companies to process and/or collect data for an event, it is mutually agreed that the data belongs to the organizer. But, the attendee’s agreement to surrender his/her data is still fuzzy.

A cursory review of Attendee Terms and Conditions for a number of trade shows and conferences makes no mention of attendee data or content. Typical boilerplate language covers the use of images, for example:

“By attending the Event, you acknowledge and agree to grant Organizer the right at the Event to record, film, photograph, or capture your likeness in any media now available or hereafter developed and to distribute, broadcast, use, or otherwise globally to disseminate, in perpetuity, such media without any further approval from you or any payment to you.”

But verbiage about the right to collect, use and/or share information collected from an attendee—content placed by the attendee on the event mobile app, survey and evaluation results, data on movements registered by beacons throughout an event space—doesn’t appear to be standard in the terms and conditions of attendance for many events.

John Federico suggests, “A good practice is to claim ‘joint ownership’ of the data with the attendee, but allow the attendee to opt-out of the data being sold to a third-party or used in a manner that the attendee isn't comfortable with.”

Get Data Back from Vendors

Even with data ownership and usage well established, my stable of experts say that organizers aren’t well versed in knowing which data to ask for from the vendors. “Should they be going after each swipe that’s recorded on a smart phone by an app provider or just those who log in? So there’s definitely a question of depth of data, says Joe Colangelo.

Leverage Data Insights

Transforming raw data into actionable insight is THE ultimate challenge for event organizers, and one for which there is no easy (and certainly no standard) answer. But in order to even attempt to address such a challenge, organizers have to take a number of steps:

  • Develop a data strategy with the help of an outside consultant or an internal data expert.
  • Map data flows across vendors and from attendees through various collection software and devices.
  • Store data in a location that is both accessible and agnostic. “Does it go back to the AMS? Do we store it somewhere separately?  Who internally owns it (IT, event team, marketing)?” Colangelo asks.
  • Research the gaps and opportunities.

To find any answer, you have to first ask the question. In the past, event organizers had neither the questions nor the resources from which the answers might come a.k.a. data. Today, we’re about half way there with a vast reservoir of information and some forward-thinking event organizers at the beginning stages of asking the right questions. What should organizers do now? Take ownership of the data and process and keep the questions coming.

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