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Hello and welcome to Event Horizon. I’m Parul Shah. On today’s episode I have a semi-special guest. Kidding! My guest is not only a brilliant strategist but also has a pretty good sense of humor. Clearly, a skill that I lack.
As you know, I’ve shared a lot of insights from our research during the past four episodes. But without the ability to take action, data can be just a bunch of charts and graphs that may or may not look fancy. The real value occurs when we use data to identify an opportunity and make a change.
I like to think of it as a sequence — from data, then information, then knowledge to insight. Data becomes information when we give it context. Information becomes knowledge when we define its value and purpose. And knowledge can be used to generate insights when we figure out how to use it effectively.
And that’s what I want to talk about today with our guest, Mark Fein. Mark is our senior vice president of strategy, and when he’s not fine-tuning his sense of humor, he’s helping our clients define their strategies for growth and sustainability.
Parul: Hi Mark. Welcome and thanks for joining me today.
Mark: Thanks for having me.
Parul: One thing that our audience is curious about is how we’ve been able to use our research in a meaningful way with clients. Essentially, collecting data is good but how does that help business?
Mark: I think a lot of times we take research and create beautiful infographics and charts and send them out. They look nice but no one knows what to do with them. This time what we did, we went into this situation knowing we did not have all the answers. So, we started doing the research to understand how people are responding to this unique situation.
We had a tech client come to us who was trying to determine the feasibility of reaching executives, now that their high-touch VIP experiences were not possible. The general perception was that they were not going to tune into a virtual event. What we found in the research was actually very interesting. After April 1, we found that 56% of C-Level respondents had already participated in a virtual event, which was not what we were expecting. So, what that started to show is that it is possible with the right content to reach these audiences and that really helped us to move forward and create programs.
Parul: So, being able to analyze the data based on industry and role has clearly been helpful for your client. What else did you find about the executive audience that your client found helpful?
Mark: One of the other things we learned was that there was a total shift that happened in terms of what people expected and prioritized out of online events versus standard, in person ones. And what we found with the C-level was networking dropped in its importance and learning and content went up to 60%, which was about the same for broader audiences. So, we saw a big shift — while networking was still important to them, they were much more prioritizing content and learning over it.
In addition to that we looked at what they were frustrated by in the online events they were attending, and sessions being too long and ineffective networking and attendee interactions, as I said, were the top things there, followed by uninteresting presenters and online content overload. So it really starts helping you shape what to do when you’re creating these experiences.
Parul: In fact, these numbers are the highest for the tech executive audience sector and role than any other that we’ve seen. So how does this information help you as you’re thinking about the design of the online event?
Mark: It really helps us design them because it really puts the priority and importance on having the right content and the right speakers coming right out of the gate, and really come out swinging or else you will lose your audiences quickly because it’s too easy to tune into something else.
It also highlighted that we need to do commerce and networking different than we have been because they’re not working that great in the online realm. It really highlighted that you need to increase things like enabling peer-to-peer networking and sharing of information and best practices, and make it easier for people to have those interactions online, which has not been the case today, instead of 3D spinning booths and one-sided chats which are not very interesting to anybody.
Thank you, Mark for making this data more tangible for our audience and thank you all for joining me today as well. Don’t forget to visit us at go.freeman.com/research to see all of our latest research and subscribe to the latest episodes. See you next time!
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