Last Updated on October 7, 2021
What’s the big deal about big data?
If you’ve been paying even passing attention to the world of analytics (and if you’re an event manager, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be), then I’m sure you’ve heard the term at least once. Those who don’t fully understand what it is have talked it up to be some sort of Holy Grail; a tool you can use to fulfill all your business-related dreams. While that’s certainly an exaggeration, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of big data – or its value for your events.
Now, as is the case with most buzz-phrases, big data is a fairly ill-defined term. Our first step, then, is to define precisely what we’re talking about here. Basically…it’s everything beyond the traditional stuff you already collect at every event– registration numbers, budget, attendee demographics; et-cetera.
That’s not quite good enough, is it?
A Better Understanding
Let’s try again. Big data is unstructured information created by the activities of attendees, speakers, event staff, and partners. It includes details such as spending habits while on the event floor, general attitude towards vendors, engagement with guest speakers…in essence, it’s everything that cannot be tracked or monitored by traditional analytics platforms.
I’m certain you can already see what makes it so valuable. When properly analyzed, it allows you to overhaul virtually every facet of your events. Your team can be tweaked for greater efficiency, the show floor can be modified to allow for greater flow and ease of access, topics can be revisited and reworked based on attendee opinion, and costs can be sent down through the floor.
Of course, the very nature of big data makes it near-impossible for any human being to work with on their own. As such, it’s not terribly surprising that we’ve seen a host of different analytics platforms popping up across event management – these tools are designed to look for patterns in unstructured information, at which point a trained expert can examine these patterns to see if they hold anything of value. Whether you want to do this yourself or hire a data scientist to do it for you is entirely your call.
Likely as not, you will need additional training if you seek to deal with the data yourself – the analysis of big data is a fairly complex task, one requiring an analytical mind and a great deal of discipline. At the end of the day, it doesn’t much matter if you choose to hire someone or learn to manage your data yourself – either way, it’ll end up being worth the effort.
So, what’s so big about big data?
Pretty much everything, if you’re looking at it as an event planner. While you certainly shouldn’t buy into the hype, you also shouldn’t underestimate its value to the event planning process. It’s no Holy Grail, to be sure, but it’s nevertheless an extremely valuable tool – and one no event manager should be without.
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