The SIIA is delighted to introduce the newest member to SIIA’s Software & Services Division, CadmiumCD, an event management platform provider. I had a chance to sit down with Michael Doane, Head of Marketing at CadmiumCD to learn a little more about how technology is changing event management. Please find my interview below.
Rhianna: Tell us about CadmiumCD and what makes you unique.
Michael: CadmiumCD was founded in the year 2000 by the husband-wife team, Peter and Michelle Wyatt. They were chemical engineers at the time and attended industry conferences often. But they saw a problem: they had a library of conference proceedings binders that were taking up way too much space on their shelves back home. They thought there must be a better way. So they started taking those conference proceedings and putting them on CD for conference organizers. They then tackled the content collection problem by developing software which makes it easy for organizers to collect biographies, photos, presentations, and much more from speakers and exhibitors. That software has blossomed into a complete event management and attendee engagement platform which includes everything from proposal submissions and reviews to conference websites and event apps. Today Pete and Michelle are still in charge, but their company has grown from two people in a basement to over 40 people in a full office space complete with a ping-pong table!
Rhianna: What key questions should people be asking in their event app RFP?
Michael: First and foremost, meeting planners should be asking for what they need. Beyond that there are typically 5 questions we encourage people to ask that we don't see often enough. 1) Is the app native or web-based? 2) How much bandwidth is recommended? 3) How does data get into the app and does it integrate with other software I'm using? and 4) What type of data can I import/export? We've actually expanded upon these questions in a recent article, which readers can view on the CadmiumCD blog.
Rhianna: We put on a number of events and one thing we have struggled with is getting attendees to engage via a mobile application. It sounds surprising but it is true. What are for getting attendees to connect with an event mobile application?
Michael: Integrate that app into their conference experience. An app without a purpose is worse than no app at all. The first thing I'd suggest is to weave your educational content in with the app. Allow attendees to takes notes, ask questions of the speaker, and comment on the presentation right within the app. The world is social, so giving attendees the ability to connect with others through your content and programming is essential. The second thing is to bring in a little competition. An educational scavenger hunt is a great way to do this. If you have a trade show aspect to your event, it's a great sponsorship opportunity for exhibitors as well. The third way is to record your conference's sessions and make those recordings available as webinars in the app following the event. This way attendees can bring home your conference and use it as a resource they can refer back to at any time.
Rhianna: How do you think technology changing the conference industry in the next 18-24 months?
Michael: We put together a resource earlier this year about how technology is changing conferences. What we found was that it's not the tech that changes the conference, it's the attendees and planners who demand the tech. Many meeting planners are still collecting session proposals, speaker materials, and exhibitor data through email and managing that information on spreadsheets. Technology has completely transformed this process and saves meeting planners thousands of hours every year. Attendees in this day and age also expect technology to be interwoven into their conference experience. If you don't have an integrated platform for them to interact with, they will notice. So things like in-session social engagement, digital signage that integrates with their event app, and microsites where they can grab more content from your event are crucial. What we'll see over the next 18-24 months is a wider acceptance and understanding of these technologies, and with that will come better events, better engagement, better experiences, and better education.