Want to increase the power of the apps available for your meeting? Try trading data among all the different tools you are using…
API connections enhance many of the websites and apps we love and use every day. A ridesharing app, for example, has search, payment, Google Maps and feedback all populating its mobile app, which by itself may be just a shell.
However, this type of sharing of data from decentralized vendors into a single cloud has not been done for the meetings and events industry. This is precisely the idea of Fuzion by Freeman which was introduced at the PCMA Convening Leaders: Disrupt & Deliver conference (PCMA CL) in Pittsburgh, PA January 6-9th, 2019.
Freeman’s ambition is to create the event industry’s first tech ecosystem, and it grew out of its own need to deliver robust data solutions for its own clients. Certainly, not just anyone can do this, but 90-year-old Freeman has.
I caught up with Corbin Ball an international event-tech speaker, consultant and writer for more than twenty years at the PCMA CL and asked for his thoughts.
“Mix and match, user choice, cloud-based products are the future,” Ball told me. “This is the idea behind Cvent – one stop shop, but there are advantages to a decentralized environment…I applaud Freeman for making it happen.”
Cvent is the leading event software company, could this be a replacement?
“In some cases, yes…” he continued. “These are two different approaches. All-in-one and the other is decentralized. Two different concepts in how you do things. In many cases, Freeman will work great because of the ability to work with multiple products to share data …but if it’s Strategic Meetings Management for large, enterprises where many of the customers are Fortune 500 companies, enterprise solutions such as offered by Cvent will likely be needed.”
Fuzion by Freeman Links App Vendors
Like all these platforms – whether it be Facebook or a ridesharing platform – the value of Freeman’s network will rise with every new thing added. That’s Metcalf’s law.
So far, over 35+ Fuzion members are currently writing to API’s for upcoming spring pilots with customers. Freeman reports participation from vendors in all the major event categories:
• Mobile Apps
• Abstract Management
• Event Management
• Second Screen
• Event Security
• Lead Retrieval
• Presentation Management
• Digital Signage
• Virtual / On Demand/ Overflow
“App developers like it because they just have to write a single connection to the platform, so it’s a b-to-b platform you may never need to hear about,” said Ken Holsinger, vice president, data solutions, Freeman during the press event at the PCMA CL show.
Typically, show data is siloed, and it can take weeks to pull data together from various partners to develop a report that will inform next year’s event. Freeman wanted to use the 2019 PCMA CL show to demonstrate that it’s possible to make data from multiple sources inform an event in progress.
At the PCMA show, Freeman was able to collect data from the Core-Apps event app, Aventri (formerly etouches) for registration, Turn Out Now (beacon technology), Sync by Freeman, Freeman Chatbots, Twitter and Braindate.
Holsinger said, “Freeman worked with PCMA to sponsor a Data Theater in the Innovate and Elevate Arena on the show floor. We provided a large LED wall with Quant displaying the PCMA dashboards so that the attendees could have a transparent look at the KPI’s for the show. This was a very transparent move for PCMA, and we applaud Sheriff [PCMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat, CAE] and his team along with our Fuzion members, for collaborating with us on this.”
Improved End-User experience
While it’s too early to list all the uses for Freeman’s cloud initiative, at the PCMA CL show I appreciated having a bot inside my conference app inform me of a conflict when I tried to schedule a Braindate on top of an existing commitment to an educational session. This was a direct result of having different event apps talk to each other.
“Security may become an issue with one company, leaving one entry point for all that credit card payment info. We just saw that with Marriott,” event-tech expert Corbin Ball said. “However, if proper credit card systems are in effect (PCI compliant), credit card payments should not be an issue.”
Freeman’s Holsinger added to that by saying: “Fuzion does not store credit card information. Much like the process of registration of an attendee, transaction processing happens outside of Fuzion…”
At a press conference announcing the launch, he said, “Data belongs to the individual, shared with show organizers and stewarded by Fuzion.”
With so many changes occurring in the marketplace Ball said, “The beauty of a cloud-based system linked by APIs is it’s nimble. You can add onto it with products that have been developed from the ground up…It could become a best in class ecosystem that allows the customer to choose.”