“’Digital Darwinism’ is alive and well. Either adapt to technology change or lose business to those that do.” – Corbin Ball
In his 2012 presentation “The Top Technology Trends Transforming Events,” event technology expert Corbin Ball listed web-based event management as one of the top three event technology trends alongside social media and virtual/hybrid meetings. Some examples of web-based exhibition and event venue management technology are event websites, event registration software, and room booking software.
The emergence of software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud-based solutions over the past few years has influenced the way event and venue professionals operate their businesses. A lot of cloud-based exhibition and venue management software solutions are now on the market alongside the self-hosted options that have been available, so you may find yourself overwhelmed by the multitude of choices.
When does cloud-based exhibition and event venue management software rise above a self-hosted solution?
By one very simple definition, SaaS is any software application that you run that is not located on your premises. Essentially, SaaS cloud-based systems are hosted by your software provider using their servers, with maintenance and upgrades managed by their team. Comparatively, self-hosted software lives on site at your organization on servers that you purchase. While self-hosted software allows you to physically monitor both servers and the IT team managing the servers, a lot of event professionals cannot or choose not to invest in the infrastructure or personnel required to maintain their own systems.
There are several key benefits of a cloud-based system, including:
- Your software and data are available through the Internet, wherever and whenever you need it.
- Cost of hardware and professional IT support are spread over the thousands of users that have purchased the same software.
- Your software provider is responsible for providing technical support and upgrades.
- Providers often offer a higher level of data backup than you could provide yourself.
What considerations come with the cloud?
There are a couple of critical points though that need to be considered when using a cloud-based event or venue management software solution.
For one, you will want to understand data security and data privacy laws. Be sure to research your providers to ensure that they are PCI and PA-DSS compliant, and can verify that financial and personal information will be protected. (Read more tips about PCI compliance here.)
Another important consideration is internet connectivity. Are you equipped with a solid internet connection at all times? If not but you are still interested in reaping the benefits of cloud-based event and venue management software, you may want to see how you can resolve internet connectivity issues. It may be worth the investment to troubleshoot or discuss upgrades with your internet service provider.
Finally, with a self-hosted event and venue management software solution, you have the benefit of more immediate and direct control. If you are equipped with the IT budget and manpower, this type of control might be appealing to your business.
With SaaS suppliers in surplus, how do you choose a provider?
Choosing an event and venue management software provider can be tough, so it’s best to break down your evaluation into a few different steps to help you make your decision.
You can start by conducting a needs analysis to make sure you fully understand your operations and workflows. It helps to have multiple people in your organization contributing to the analysis and helping prioritize needs and wants.
You will want to create a complete list of questions to ask potential software providers, not only about the software functionality but also the providers themselves. For instance:
- How long has the provider been operating in the market?
- How long has the software they are offering been in market?
- How many other customers actually use the software?
- What training and support options exist?
Need more guidance in the software purchasing process? Check out this comprehensive buyer’s guide for some best practices that can help you make this important decision.