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If you are a PCO, you know that your most valuable and finite resource is time. You also know that no matter how much lead-time you have, something will always come up at the last minute. By Gavin Burgess*

I’ve always admired professional conference organisers (PCOs) for their ability to find ways to add value to events – from attention to detail to pre-empting their clients’ needs. This continuous quest to add value to an event is the bargaining chip that PCOs have with their clients when that last-minute requirement presents itself.

In the digital age, technology is part of your value-add. It begins with your communications infrastructure, both in your office and on-site, and extends throughout the event. A successful event is one where attendees are excited to return the next time that event is held; and technology might just be the make-or-break factor.

The conundrum this presents is that PCOs rely on technology experts to give the best advice, and to implement the best solutions. But the lines between technology, IT, and AV are often blurred. When thinking about technology for your next event, here are four tips that might help save some of that valuable, finite, and very precious time:

Consult with an expert
Look for a technology professional that specialises in your field, and ask them the question, “How can I best use technology to add value to my client’s event?” A good systems analyst – the fancy term for a tech guru that solves problems using technology – will take a look at not only what can be done on-site, but also what can be done to improve your internal business processes leading up to the event. Your chosen professional should be able to recognise any blind spots, and make suggestions for improvements.

Budget comprehensively
Technology is often a thorn in ones side owing to the cost. It is tempting to skimp on solutions, but keep in mind that the reputation of your event is at stake. Your event is all about the attendee and their experience. Instead of choosing a service provider that is a one-stop shop for all your event tech needs, rather work with a professional who will give you multiple options for using various service providers. You can then weigh the pros and cons of cost versus attendee experience, and make an informed choice.

Concierge
Don’t fall into the trap of blurring the lines between IT, AV, and everything in-between. An excellent way to make sure that all of these elements are properly organised is to invest in the project management skills of a technology concierge. This is a dedicated individual, or team, that will make sure there are no mix-ups. Your organising staff might not know who to call for a problem between the IT-whatsit and the AV-thingamabob, and neither do they have the time, so it is super handy to have a single point of contact.

Greening and sustainability
If your client or event has greening and sustainability in mind, and personally, I hope that they all do, your technology expert should understand the best way to achieve these deliverables. What processes do they have in place to mitigate the environmental impact of the use of technology at an event? What have they done in the past that has worked, and what hasn’t?  Make sure that they are paying as much attention to greening and sustainability as you are to the finer details of your event.

*Gavin Burgess isa systems analyst, and the managing director of Ultimate Data Sciences.

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