The Eventtech Landscape Project: 341 Eventtech Platforms [April Update]
What a spring it’s been! Time flies when you’re having fun… or collecting new eventtech platforms!
At the end of February, PIRATEx launched the 2021 Eventtech Landscape for Online Event Experiences, a comprehensive overview of technology platforms for event organizers. The 212 tools and solutions represented the various technologies our PIRATEx agency had evaluated for our client events and exhibitions over the past year, with the increasingly swift switch to online events.
But we were far from done. The marketing technology industry (of which eventtech is a significant part), is experiencing a boom in providers and tools. Eventtech is no different.
Keeping on top of those tools is no mean feat. When we first began collecting tools to evaluate for our clients, we didn’t imagine we would soon find ourselves in a David v. Goliath battle to stay on top of the “Great App Explosion”.
But as Pirates, we don’t give up easily.
So we were up for the challenge. We began to collect all the tools in our Eventtech Directory. It wasn’t long before the number of tools for event organizers began creeping up, and up.
Last month, we released an updated version of the Eventtech Landscape with 300 tools. But the pace hasn’t stopped since then.
Where we are now
Today, we’re proud to release the newest and most recent version of the Eventtech Landscape.
The Landscape represents 341 tools for event professionals looking to produce unique and unforgettable online events and experiences.
We’ve come a long way since 212 and we’re not slowing down.
This list, as always, certainly isn’t exhaustive. There are undoubtedly more tools out there to use. And that number will continue to grow. But we’ll keep hunting them down and sharing them with the event tech community. Giving back to the community is part of our company DNA. Stay tuned for updates!
We’ll be sharing some additional insights on the new additions to the Eventtech Directory in individual blog posts. Check out the first installment on virtual world platforms. Also, if you want more information about why we choose those different categories to order the tools, you can check out our previous article explaining our approach to the creation of this Eventtech Landscape 2021.
What we’ve learned
With so many tools out there, the question we receive a lot is “how do I choose?” or “what is the right tool to use”?
This question is impossible to answer, and will vary depending on your unique situation.
As organizers, we know that no two events are the same. Organizers will have different preferences and unique requirements for each event they do. It is these requirements which should influence your search for a platform. As eventtech platforms race to compete with one another on functionalities, providers are offering more and more features than ever before. It can be easy to become drawn in by these different features. Gamification? Raffles? Segue music? VIP Areas, oh my!
More can definitely be more if you’ve planned for it, and these features fit with the value proposition you plan to deliver. But in many case, more is not always better. Especially in the online environment. Sometimes it can make things worse. Especially if you haven’t designed for those features and it turns out it was just those features that caught your eye that are distracting your attendees or preventing real interaction to take place.
How to choose?
And despite evaluating well over 300 eventtech platforms, we can confidently say there really is no one platform that can do everything, for every event.
However, there are many, many platforms that do the very same things.
Before you think this is disappointing, rather, it is this variety which offers incredible choice for organizers.
The duplication of functionalities across platforms is maybe one of the most significant observations we’ve had from the start of this project. You will find opportunities for livestreaming and online meetings from a vast majority of providers, even ones that were not originally designed to be all-in-one eventtech solutions.
This amount of choice allows event organizers to carefully choose platforms based on the customer experience, or through ease of use.
In the course of developing the eventtech landscape, we’ve had the chance to interact with some incredible software providers and technology developers. They are all incredibly passionate event professionals. We’ve found that there may be many platforms that will have the right tools to produce your event. Indeed, some of the most promising providers might not be the flashiest or biggest names. Creating events, even virtual ones is ultimately a very human process. So when it comes to making your decision, make your selection based on those criteria that matter most to you. Here are some ways to do it.
Narrowing down your selection
Design your event as you would without a technology provider in mind. What are your event must haves? Be clear about your absolute needs and desires before you go looking for a platform provider. As always, it comes back to your participants and value proposition. What are your attendees looking for when it comes to their event experience? If you’re hosting a B2B event focused on lead generation, make sure you prioritize experiences that make this process as efficient as possible. Looking to take your attendees on a journey? Think about trying a 3-D or virtual world platform.
Other “must haves” might include integrations with other apps your attendees are already using, such as Linkedin, iCal or Shopify. Alternatively, you might want to prioritize engagement features built into the platform, such as a social wall, or in-platform polling. Other must-haves might include random networking, or AI-enabled matchmaking. Identify these before choosing your technology and let those needs guide your choices.
Don’t make your technology selection based only on what you can see from the attendee perspective. The backend of the platform will be the side you as the event organizer will be interacting with on a daily basis. There can be a huge variation between platforms, especially when it comes to events that have many different attendee personas, livestreams and exhibitor areas. Explore the platform and ask some tough questions while taking a demo. Try to get a feel for the ease of use. Some platforms recommend working with a trusted event agency partner to administer the event, rather than working alone. Is it easy to make changes on the fly? Can attendee information be quickly updated? How many administrators can I have on the platform? Can exhibitors and sponsors update their information on the platform themselves, or do they need administrator access? Ask these questions beforehand, and preferably, ask for a test version of the software to demo before making a final selection. Compare several options to get a feel for the variation in how platforms accommodate different event tasks (for example, uploading sponsor booths, or changing the event landing page).
The Human Side
Events are all about bringing people together. So don’t discount that element when it comes to working with a technology provider.
While one of the best things about virtual events is the opportunity to work globally, have a close look at the provider’s service and support hours. Will they be available when your event is being broadcast? When are they available, and how quick are they to reply? Also, consider personnel. Does the platform offer a dedicated manager or contact person for your project? Or are you left with a general services line?
From our experience running events, both in person and virtual, things can, and will go wrong. It might be a technical problem, or it might because a speaker can’t access the technology at the last minute. Whatever it is, having someone that you can reach quickly and efficiently when those problems arise, and who has a plan b in place, makes all the difference for us. Developing a strong working relationship with our technical providers has been the make or break when things get tough. Maintaining that working relationship has been helpful as they’ve been there to develop must-need features and ensure things are moving smoothly.
Thank you for following along with the updates to our Eventtech Landscape project. We greatly appreciate all of the event professionals who have reached out to add new eventtech platforms to the list as well as for your suggestions of platforms to add. If there’s a mistake, or something we’ve missed, please let us know! We depend on support from the community to keep this resource well updated.
We’ve received some great suggestions on how we can make this landscape even more useful for you, that we’ll be implementing as soon as we can. You can count on PIRATEx to continue updating the landscape regularly. We’re going to continue to keep building the Eventtech Platforms Directory and updating it with the most relevant information for Eventprofs. Please keep up with our latest updates and the most recent developments by following along in our regular newsletter The Lookout, released each Friday.