Remember that adage “jack of all trades, master of none”? It’s a quick way of expressing the notion that an all-in-one solution doesn’t always work. Often it’s better to have a team full of specialists, people who can rock each discipline while also playing well together.
The same can be said for event technology.
As a conference and meeting manager, you’ve got a passel of technologies you can draw on to help you manage your events. These applications tend to fall into two camps. On one hand are all-in-one solutions that provide a suite of tools to manage every aspect of an event. On the other hand, best-in-breed solutions focus on solving a very specific problem in the event management cycle.
So which approach is better? The jack-of-all-trades? Or the specialist?
All-in-Ones often suffer from poor integration of add-ons
Let’s look at the all-in-one approach first. It’s easy to see the appeal of using a single platform to serve all of your planning needs. But look closer. Often these all-in-one platforms leave a lot to be desired. You can see how it happens. An application starts as a specialized tool serving specific areas of the event planning mix. People ask for more stuff. So over time they cobble together more widgets and doodads through acquisitions or makeshift functionality. But the add-ons are often poorly integrated and don’t really solve your problems.
Another seeming benefit to all-in-ones is the lure of using fewer software vendors. But think about it. What’s more important? Having a smaller group of vendors? Or offering the best possible attendee experience? If you’ve poured all your creativity and hard work into creating an amazing event, why risk alienating attendees with a tool that doesn’t do the job?
Consider our own story at Hubb: Given the importance of good content to an event (66% of event attendees choose to go to an event based on its content), it’s surprising how few tools are out there to help manage the constant flow of updates to session descriptions, speaker bios, sponsorship information, and more. All-in-one platforms frequently don’t provide any sort of specialized tool for event content management. They either re-purpose an existing tool, such as a registration system, to serve as a makeshift content platform, or they require managers to manually handle and upload content into their other services.
Open APIs mean plug-and-play connectivity for Best-in-Breed tools
Now let’s look at targeted solutions. The dig on them has been that they take a piecemeal approach and don’t work well together. But here’s the thing. That may have been true in the past, but not anymore. A lot of new event tech is built with open APIs, which means it can be easily integrated with other technologies.
As long as your favorite solutions plug and play, and they create an open ecosystem for your data, they will be just as easy to use and implement as one overarching solution. If you have a favorite event technology vendor, whether it’s a mobile app provider or registration system, start by asking them what existing partnerships they already have in place. Working with these vendors will make it easier to select the right mix of event technology tools.
Sure, every event is different. So it’s hard to make a blanket recommendation about what type of technology to choose. You’ve got to consider factors such as budget, comfort of your team with new processes, and the specific needs of your event.
But let’s dispel the notion that an all-in-one solution is inherently better than a specialized piece of technology just because it simplifies your planning and selection process. In fact, this mindset will limit your ability to identify specialized tools that will work hand-in-glove with your existing technology and processes, all the while providing a higher quality of service in their domain than an all-in-one solution would.
Use the best tools for the job
This is a trend that’s just getting stronger. Business technology, in all areas, is moving toward a more interconnected future. As event technology becomes more connected, it will be even easier to select specialized tools for every component of your event, knowing they’ll work well together.
For event managers looking to make a decision on your technology today, an all-in-one solution may offer a tantalizing mix of convenience and capability. But working with specialized, connected tools will make a far greater impact on your event planning process.
Don’t limit your ability to make the best event you can. The best results come from using the best tools for the job!
If you want a content management solution that can save you hundreds of hours in work--including having to send thousands of emails--we'd love to show you what Hubb can do.
We've written an updated and expanded series of blog posts on the all-in-one vs. best-in-breed event tech debate. Part 1delves into the differences between all-in-one and best-in-breed event technology. Part 2 looks at the specific strengths and weaknesses of each approach.