Technology company Active Network on Wednesday unveiled a
cloud-based meetings technology solution that represents the firm's most
comprehensive attempt to marry the strategic meetings management capabilities
it picked up when it acquired StarCite with its legacy event-marketing
capabilities. Dubbed the Smart Events Cloud, the solution will be available in
stages beginning in November, with full availability slated for mid-2014,
according to the company.
Once fully available, users will be able to choose among the
entire suite of Active event marketing and meetings management tools to develop
a customized solution based on the needs of their program, said Anthony Miller,
vice president of strategy for Active's Business Solutions division.
Miller said that moving Active's offerings into the cloud
addresses a few industry trends that the company is tracking. The move may help
companies with what Miller termed the inevitability of further consolidation
between corporate procurement and marketing organizations. He described the
current event marketing discipline as a silo that typically sits outside the
strategic meetings management program.
It also would help users mine big data for more valuable
business intelligence generated by marketing events, Miller added, suggesting a
future in which meetings and marketing events are "recognized and tangibly
measured as a true value-add and a true source of intelligence, information and
analytics that will help companies be better informed and make smarter
decisions and become a core part in how they sell, market and engage with
employees. To do that we believe we must provide a complete toolkit."
Much of the functionality in that toolkit are measurements
the company currently provides outside of the cloud through its Active
Conference and Active StarCite products, but one new aspect would be the
development of a dashboard that can display overall meetings program metrics,
including event marketing data like spending, cost per attendee and customer
counts, among others, alongside traditional SMM data.
"By putting more of those meetings and events on to one
solution, we can truly aggregate the data and get a full view of the spend, not
just around the meetings program but also the event marketing program, and
truly understand how an event influenced sales," Miller said.
Smart Events Cloud will replace not only the StarCite
name—which, according to Miller, will be retired when the product is fully
available next year—but also Active's current methods of providing these
services, said Active Business Solutions vice president of industry strategy
"Today, we have a few customers who have a StarCite
product for their technology product for SMM, whose marketing group also uses
the Active Conference product for big, large-scale customer events," he
said. "If the SMM group wanted to use elements of the Conference tool,
we'd have to sign a separate Conference contract. In essence, you would buy two
platforms and use what you need. With the integration of the StarCite and
Conference platforms into the cloud, it now becomes totally modular. You have a
contract with us, but you can pick and choose the modular components of the
program. If and when you are ready to move into the large-scale marketing
elements of the program, that's readily available to you. You don't need to
sign a new contract or buy a new platform. You can scale up or down and start
at any given point."
Active last week announced that Vista Equity Partners had agreed to buy the company for about $1 billion, though Miller said there is no
indication that move will affect Active's plans. "They believe in our
business, they believe in Active, they're excited about Active, so we are
excited as well," he said.
Among the components of the November release are the first
version of the dashboard, a new version of the company's small-meetings
management tool and its Conference-To-Go basic meetings management product.
Later releases will include advanced data analytics, return-on-investment
measurement tools and functionality to drive event attendance.
Miller said pricing will vary based on the services