To the Point

Avoiding ‘Analysis Paralysis’

Put event intelligence to work for you.

No doubt about it, “big data” has become a buzz phrase, surrounded by a lot of hype. Depending on the audience, you’ll find people either espousing its benefits or voicing concerns about its Big Brother-ness. Wherever you may fall on that spectrum, the reality is that technologies enabling us to capture data about consumer behavior are growing exponentially — and leaders across industries and around the globe are recognizing their potential. In fact, international consulting firm Capgemini’s recent survey of 1,000 senior-level executives across nine industries and 10 countries revealed that two-thirds fear their organizations will become irrelevant and/or uncompetitive if they don’t put big data to use (

Some innovative big-data-collection programs are flashy. Walt Disney’s new biometric wristbands, for example, allow guests to do everything from pay for their lunch to use a reservation system to jump ahead of a long line at an attraction — all with the flick of a wrist.  

Within the meetings industry, capturing and analyzing data about our attendees’ behavior offers tremendous opportunities for us to improve their experience at our events — often on the fly. For example, biometric wristbands can allow deejays at special events to use real-time data on attendee movement and energy levels to adjust music selections.

Sure, some of these high-tech data-capturing tools may be prohibitively expensive today, but their cost keeps coming down. They may become more affordable for your meetings in the not-too-distant future.

Perhaps your organization is already sitting on a pile of data — but not sure what to focus on or how to analyze what you’ve got. That seems to be a common challenge, as demonstrated recently by the results of a CEIR study showing that exhibition organizers are still in the early stages of using data analytics for business decision-making. Part of the problem, said CEIR Research Director Nancy Drapeau, is that it’s very easy for these organizations “to fall into the trap of ‘Analysis Paralysis.’ One can study and analyze so many things.”

Sure, some of these high-tech data-capturing tools may be prohibitively expensive today, but their cost keeps coming down.

We just don’t have the luxury of standing still. We have to challenge ourselves to learn about new collection technologies, determine their value — keeping in mind that long-term benefits may likely outweigh short-term costs — and use our data effectively to help achieve our business goals.   

I hope you’ll join us at PCMA’s 2015 Education Conference, June 14–17 in Fort Lauderdale, where putting event intelligence and measurement to work for you will be just one of a number of hot-topic sessions we’ll be offering. For a preview of what else lies in store for conference participants, check out our interview in this issue with brain scientist John Medina, Ph.D., who will present “The Power of Environments — From Rooms to Relationships” at our Opening General Session. You can find a complete schedule and registration at

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.