Data analytics is the science of collecting and examining raw data with the purpose of drawing conclusions about the information. These analyses are used by organizations to make better business decisions, especially where change is the outcome. In Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) there is a plethora of data available for collection, analysis, and reporting; however, the relevance of the data depends on the questions requiring answers. Thus, answering the ‘why’ of needing the data is a great place to start. Below is a list of Top 10 Reasons to Collect Relevant Data from our expert contributors, David Sachs, Director of Analytics and Lisa Palmeri, VP of Strategic Account Solutions.
1. To support the need for a change in operations or process.
People often fear change, especially without supporting data to validate the need for it. Many times we see a need for a change in a process within our organizations, but approaching policy-makers with your opinion or gut instinct will not hold much ground without concrete data to support it. In today’s metrics-driven world, data is required in order to institute change or justify a business case for it.
2. To gain visibility to the unknown.
Industry professionals are smart! Our intuition often guides us when making key decisions, however, data is useful in proving our instincts right. Actionable insights add clarity to the unknown which will support or challenge theory, both of which are invaluable in decision-making.
3. To reduce risk.
Why is it that an employee cannot purchase a stapler without following certain protocols, but they can enter into a hotel contract for a meeting with little or no scrutiny? Often, people tasked with planning meetings and events in an organization are not meeting professionals, but rather meeting planning is a part of their job responsibilities. As such, they are not experts in understanding and negotiating the terms of a meeting contract and sign agreements that may not support the best interests of their company. This practice exposes both the individual signing the agreement as well as the organization to risk should an issue arise with the contract, or in the event that the meeting cancels and penalties are assessed. There are also terms that, if not properly addressed or omitted, could jeopardize the safety or well-being of attendees of that meeting. Having historical bid data or analytics that identify suppliers with whom it’s safe to do business, or to support professional procurement practices, can reduce or eliminate this risk altogether.
4. To demonstrate compliance with regulations.
No one wants to be called out for non-compliance. Whether it’s following company policies, regulatory guidelines, accounting principles, or laws, being compliant is key to job security. This is especially critical to health care and life sciences organizations that need to demonstrate compliance to Health Care Professional (HCP) transfer of value transparency laws. It’s not enough to have regimented processes for transparency, government entities want to see that the data is reported in such a way that it meets the letter of the law(s). That is why at M&IW we have a dedicated HCP reporting department whose sole job is to support the compliance needs of our clients.
5. For Executive Management support of a new idea.
Executive management, especially in publicly held companies, are being tasked with ensuring that all the decisions they make support quarterly earnings! It’s fun to be the initiator of a new idea with the potential to dramatically streamline a process, improve the bottom line and increase those earnings. Many such opportunities exist when implementing a Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP). As mentioned in point #1, suggesting new concepts may be admirable, but they won’t go very far without analytics to support them. It’s not enough to illustrate historical evidence that innovation could improve the bottom line. Often predictive analytics are necessary to project how that idea will benefit the organization going forward. Leverage data to build a business case for specific elements of an SMMP that will yield the highest ROI or provide other tangible benefits to the organization.
6. To build stronger partnerships with key suppliers.
Knowing what you spend and with whom is the first step in establishing preferred or strategic supplier partnerships. These relationships work best when they provide a win-win for both parties. Suppliers are looking for increased market share (a larger piece of the pie as compared to their competitors) in exchange for discounts and other financial incentives. This leads us to a common failure with SMM implementation. Most SMMPs go in with a consolidation approach that is challenging, especially in today’s suppliers’ market, to build compliance around. While it’s good in theory, management also doesn’t want to micro-manage or otherwise mandate the use of suppliers. A better approach is to align with partners with whom your organization naturally gravitates towards, whether because they provide a level of service meeting managers and attendees can depend on, they are geographically well-positioned, and/or they offer financial benefits already that may be improved upon as market share increases. Regardless of the approach in selecting key suppliers with whom to partner, having the data that supports who to approach in the first place is a critical success factor.
7. To leverage greater amounts of spend in order to put into place spend controls.
How do you determine your spend controls or thresholds? Establishing spending baselines can be challenging if you are limited to using industry benchmarks simply because there aren’t many meetings-related benchmarks available to reference. Reviewing your organization’s spend data on common elements such as guest room rates, meeting space rental and meals, by city and/or time of year can lead to spending limits or controls that make sense.
8. To validate cost avoidance and savings.
Cost savings and avoidance are often cited as the number one reason organizations will deploy a managed meetings program. Unless you have a consistently applied methodology to track and report in these areas, you may be challenged in understanding if real savings are being achieved. Data validates your cost savings and avoidance efforts and can serve to identify trends and opportunities for more strategic negotiations or cost-cutting measures. When it comes to saving money, knowledge is power.
9. To validate ROI.
As previously mentioned, measuring the performance and success of a managed meetings program includes the ability to report out on Return on Investment. ROI can be measured in several different contexts. Starting at a high level, measuring an SMMP’s overall program ROI based on the cost to run the program as compared to the savings and cost avoidance delivered. Often, companies deploying meeting management software are tasked with validating the ROI on technology expenditures versus efficiency gains. At a more granular level, ROI may be measured for certain types of meetings in which a financial benefit is an expected outcome. This is commonly measured in sales and marketing related meetings and events, where increased sales and revenue are compared to the cost to operate the meeting.
10. Drives innovation in event attendee experiences.
Collecting data from an attendee level is a must to the success of future events. Today’s meeting attendees expect to engage with their fellow attendees before, during and after an event. They expect to connect using social media, to be recognized and to experience some degree of personalized service while at the meeting. Event apps are becoming very sophisticated and are able to offer many innovative solutions. With the massive amount of data apps that are capable of collecting; event professionals can gain valuable insight into attendee’s preferences and drive new innovative initiatives. Data drives attendee satisfaction thus supporting your events’ ROI.
Download our Collecting Relevant Data to Affect Change handout to learn more. It features the Top 10 List along with SMM scenarios for capturing data and the best practices of successful organizations.
Interested in standing up an SMMP in your organization or optimizing your event technology and current SMM program, connect with one of our SMM experts via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.