This blog was originally published on April 17, 2014. It has been updated for accuracy.
There’s no question that mobile event apps have become an integral part of today’s event experience. But with the proliferation of event apps comes an entirely new challenge for meeting professionals: how to make sense of all the data provided by the app’s analytics.
To tackle this challenge, more and more event app vendors are jumping on the opportunity to visualize data and analytics to make them more understandable. With new, accessible tools like Google Data studio, visualizing data is an increasingly popular way to clearly show metrics. With different types of graphs, customizable colors and other flexible imagery, you no longer need to hire a team of analytics professionals to interpret your event’s data.
But that presents some risks.
Before you fall head over heels for one event app over another, take a closer look at how you can benefit from event ROI visualization, and what the risks are with interpreting data this way:
Trends become more apparent
Visualization of data often helps reveal trends and patterns more quickly, not only within a single event, but across multiple events as well. That means you don’t have to be a math whiz to extract meaningful patterns that will help you adapt your events on the fly or tease out event ROI to plan for the future.
Better retention of facts
Visual tools make it much easier for people to remember data. This is incredibly helpful for event professionals who need to present concepts and complex metrics about events in order to make their point.
Improved attendee engagement
Some visual analytics allow data to be shared with attendees in real-time. This offers an advantage to presenters who want to add live poll or survey results to their presentations and create more interactive session experiences.
More rigorous planning
Underlying the visualization trend is a movement towards data-driven decision-making. This means that fewer events will be planned based purely on intuition, adding a more rigorous approach to event planning based on concrete goals and metrics.
Glitz outshines substance
Be careful not to be wooed by glitzy analytics that look good, but don’t offer any helpful insight. Remember, visualization of data doesn’t always make sense for all event-planning decisions – and some visual representations may not always add clarity. Look carefully at the data being visualized and think about how you will use it.
Data becomes unclear
Visualization can often reduce clarity if not used properly and in the right context. That could be the result of making a complex story too simple and, in other cases, it could be the exact opposite: making simple facts appear too complex.
Visuals become too important
If you’re like most event professionals, chances are you’re not keen on heavy number crunching, which means you may tend to rely more on visual analytics. However, over-reliance on visuals presents the danger that certain aspects of the event, ones that require a little math and elbow grease, may get neglected.
Management wants to see more
If you’re presenting results to management, you may get caught off-guard if you use a slide deck filled with visualized analytics, but have no raw data to defend your case. Make sure you always pre-empt management’s questions and ensure your recommendations are based on hard numbers that you can back up.
Questions to ask about data analytics
Before you commit to an event app vendor, be sure to see a demonstration of their analytics platform to see what kind of visual and non-visual features it offers. Also ask about how easy it is to export data into Excel or CSV files for offline analysis. This can give you more flexibility with editing the data and visuals for presentations and reports.
During the demo, also tell your vendor what metrics you’re looking to measure and find out if the app’s analytics can provide those insights. And if you don’t have the time to dig deep into your analytics, ask your vendor if they offer Analytics Reporting as one of their services.
Do you have any thoughts on presenting event data? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe!