You don’t need a computer science degree to work out if your SaaS provider is overcharging and underdelivering
While I can’t pretend to be a disinterested party, this article is a sincere attempt to educate non-techie venue and event managers. In the long run, my industry doesn’t benefit from customers wasting lots of time and money on software that isn’t a good fit for their organisation’s needs. So, while avoiding the temptation to plug my wares for as long as possible, I’ll provide some metrics below on which to judge any venue-and-event-management platform-software combo..
If you’re pressed for time, the TL; DR version of this article is that most venue-and-event-management software providers take the quick and relatively cheap option of ‘bolting on’ their software to a platform provided by a big tech company such as Microsoft.
This arrangement may seem logical enough at first glance, but it leads to problems. Such as an inability to combine then analyse data from different sources, or difficulties in automating manual processes.
I explain why that is below. But, if you don’t make it any further than this sentence, please just be aware that if you sign a contract with a conventional provider of venue-and-event-management software that relies on a generic platform – and, in particular, a generic Content Management System (CMS) – created by the likes of Microsoft, you’re signing up to have some expensive and time-consuming problems.
You should focus on value not price. But when considering price, it’s essential to distinguish between the price stated in the SaaS provider’s marketing materials and the price you’ll actually pay. The SaaS provider will quote the price for supplying their cookie-cutter software. They won’t mention the price you will almost certainly end up paying to get a consultant and software developer in to modify that software.
Here’s where things get complicated, so allow me to use a car analogy.
If you are a caravanner, cyclist or surfer, you will typically have to modify any vehicle you purchase by bolting on a tow bar, or a hitch-mount car rack, or roof racks. It’s a lot simpler and cheaper to manufacture a tow bar than build a vehicle, so this is what almost all SaaS providers do. They rely on one of the tech-industry heavy hitters – Microsoft, Salesforce, Magento – to supply the vehicle and just build the thing that gets bolted onto it.
In this analogy, the car is a ‘platform’, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, that combines a CMS (Content Management System), CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system and also chucks in some business applications and AI tools. The tow bar or rack is the industry-specific software, developed by your SaaS provider, that sits on top of the platform.
In the same way a tow bar sourced from almost any tow-bar manufacturer can be used to pull a conventional caravan in unchallenging road conditions, just about any venue-and-event-management SaaS provider will deliver software capable of handling the venue-and-event-management basics.
However, if you want to do more than just the basics, or if what constitutes ‘the basics’ changes frequently, you’ll soon run into trouble.
Imagine you are thinking about buying a Toyota Corolla and modifying it so you can tow your caravan around. Or transport your kids’ bikes to the park. Or lug your surfboard to the beach. If you’re sure neither your interests nor external circumstances are going to change, you can drop $25,000 on a Corolla and then spend $1000 more on a tow bar, hitch mount rack or roof rack without worrying too much.
But what happens if anything does change?
Imagine that your family loses interest in caravanning, cycling or surfing. Alternatively, imagine some external change, such as increased air or ocean pollution, that makes those activities unattractive. Now imagine that you decide you want to get into off-roading.
At this juncture, the business that’s been providing you with tow bars or racks won’t be able to provide much assistance. They can’t transform your two-wheel-drive Corolla into an all-wheel-drive one.
So, you’ll need to ask your neighbourhood mechanic how you can make your Corolla more like a RAV4. Your mechanic will probably refer you to a car-modification specialist. At significant cost, this specialist just might be able to rip out the existing drive train and install a new one that provides better traction on unsealed roads.
At the risk of stretching the analogy to breaking point, consider the platform and software your organisation is using. Is it allowing you to access the destinations you want to reach and participate in the activities you want to engage in? Or are you experiencing issues with siloed data, disconnected systems and unautomated processes?
If so, you’ve got two choices. You can shell out on a consultant, who will advise you to hire a software developer capable of adjusting your existing technology stack. Or you can try to find a business that provides a holistic venue-and-event-management tech stack.
A silver-bullet solution
Tech businesses work with code rather than tangible objects such as engines, drivetrains and tow bars. That means innovative tech businesses can do things that would be unfeasible in other industries.
No tow-bar manufacturer ever has become, or is likely to become, a car maker. Yet it is possible for a SaaS provider to create their own CRM-CMS-ERP-AI tools platform, as well as the industry-specific software that sits on top of that platform. This involves a considerable amount of ingenuity, perseverance and time, but it is possible.
I know it’s possible because it’s what my partners and I did with Event Hub.
The upside of controlling the (generic) platform as well as the (niche) software is that Event Hub can, to use the automotive analogy one last time, provide any vehicle – a four-wheel drive, minivan or bulldozer – its customers require whenever they require it. In a fast-changing world, that is more important than many people realise. (If I had a dollar for every complaint I’d heard about the limitations of conventional venue-and-event-management software, I’d be kicking back on my Caribbean island rather than writing this article.)
A growing number of teams, codes and venues – The Parramatta Eels, The Western Sydney Wanderers, the new Alliance Stadium, McDonalds Stadium, the T20 World Cup, the NRL, the Sydney Kings, the Melbourne Renegades, Melbourne United, Cricket Victoria, Qudos Bank Arena, the SCG, ICC Sydney, Optus Stadium and GIO Stadium Canberra – all now use Event Hub’s SaaS solution. They do so because it delivers exactly what they need when they need it from the get-go and removes the need to bring in pricey consultants and software developers to retrofit inadequate technology.
Event Hub guarantees we can provide a cheaper and better venue-and-event-management solution both short-term and long-term.
If you’d like to have a confidential, no-strings-attached chat about what Event Hub can offer your organisation, please make an appointment here.
Scott Hyde, Event Hub co-founder