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Importance and relevance of events: measurements in the light of sustainability

Just a couple of days ago I read an article on energy conservation and the reduction of energy consumption in chemistry industry. The article will be published in the August edition of “Chemical Engineering“. The link is now (August 13, 2008) available. It describes a wide spread of actions to increase energy efficiency and it tries to quantify enregy consumption for all related life cycle domains (of asset management). Simple, but very affective in that context is the area of continuous maintenance. A some hours later in time, I checked my normal post and read the invitations to one or another event. This led to the following considerations:

Current dynamics at the global markets require a continuous interaction between providers and customers/prospects. In case of manufacturers, one can argue about hard facts in the sense of functions and prices. The question about the coverage between demand and offering is “easily” done. The similar situation for service providers with intangible offerings is a bit different. The more these providers have to build on “trust”, the more a feeling of exclusivity enters into the consideration of necessities.

Exclusivity and community in conjunction with each other is very interesting. More than 40 years ago there was a quiet revolution in culture started with the “Festival of Woodstock”. Those, who attended returned very motivated and got their individual communities enthusiastic as well. This festival was a “happening”, because it drove a change in perceptions, culture, etc. Clear, it wasn’t Woodstock alone, but it was the Vietnam war, the second generation after 2nd world war, and others as well. For some parts of the entertainment industry Woodstock became also a business success.

Still today, there is a remarkable differentiation whether you attended an event in real or “only” virtual (and therefore delayed in time).

Over the last 40 years we had a large variety of events with a large audiences. Today, it’s valuable to support a messaging with a large, physical, attending audience. This happens in music as in theatre, in business as in religion, among corporates as individuals. Over the last couple of months this occurred with the European soccer championship and the Poe’s visit to Australia.

There are organizations, specialized in setting up such events; global corporations have their own marketing departments to take care about the best fit between message and magnitude (or amplifier).

There is an inversion of the “happening” feature. This inversion is with the question whether your message becomes important if you are able to attract a certain number of people. Some refinement of that question points to exclusivity. If you attract certain representatives to attend an event, is this event the important? Do you suddenly become important, once you attended such an exclusive event?

Crazy question you will say. What’s going on at the backstage of this topic?

A large number of events isn’t disclosed for non-physical attendees. Nor later in time, nor virtual using web 2.0 tools. With some of theses events, you get proceedings of the speaker’s contributions, but some of these are at such an “high-level”, that you need the original sound-track to reproduce nearly the message. Some speakers don’t deliver anything (besides of the title slide of their presentation). I ask myself in such cases about the reasoning:

  • do they protect themselves, such they might present a second time at another conference?
  • Or do they fear public questions, which aren’t asked in a closed community?

During preparation and execution of such an event how many services steps are necessary provided by how many organizations? It’s more than evident: any change in (value) perception regarding the importance and relevance of events will affect their business. But, from the other hand, how many events

  • are marketed by the profiles of key-note speakers, instead of
  • the content of their speeches in combination with their capabilities to drive efficient changes in the relation to the key topic.

If such an event that indicates to disclose (inside) important information, knowledge and expertise, why the number of participants is than limited? I mean physical as well as virtual attending, active and passive listeners. Does that mean “exclusivity”? But is “exclusivity” something raising importance once they discuss expertise domains  that covers expertise from several industries? What happens, if knowledge provision is tagged with the label “Intellectual Property”?

This is one part of the medal/coin. Look now in dimensions like time, costs, and travel. We all know the cost of the event from a participant viewpoint: it includes the event, travel expenses, hotel and the time spend for travel. The cost of the event from a provisioning perspective includes more than facilities, food, print of the proceedings of the presentations. That other part is called “entertainment” Here participants enjoy rock-stars from the 70’s or other types of artists. Big fun, great parties.

If we look into the carbon footprint of event participation, we might ask ourselves, whether virtual and therefore partial participation delivers globally sometimes more values. If so, we should focus on the installment of these available infrastructures.

Event participation is also networking. The more intangible the supply chain of services is (we are part of) the more networking becomes important. Does that apply to all events out of a recurrent series over several years? Is the value of event networking correlated to the tourism value of the venue?

A couple of weeks ago I asked the impact of change for a revolving event, which was labeled as great and very productive, supportive. That event series was mentioned as a cornerstone in the GTM (going to market) strategy. I asked the question: “if we partly change the physical event towards a supported virtual event, which is also virtual supported, what is the impact of that change?” I got a simple answer: “80% of the participants will not show up (physical nor virtual)”.

That at least indicates the correlation between event value and carbon footprint.

Coming back to the origin of this story: if chemistry production tries to reduce energy consumption without any reduction in productivity and negative impacts to quality of production, is “professional services” also asked to reconsider its energy consumption? I discuss “reconsidering” not “limit” or “stop”.

By the way, this change in event scheduling worked out perfectly once over the last 7 years (9/11). Suddenly travel limitations were put in place, but business remains on its growth path.  So what has changed since then?

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