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Big Data Meets Live Meetings: Harnessing the Power of New Data Sources

Marc Crawford
Posted byMarc Crawford
on 03/30/17 02:00 PM

Marc Crawford is the CEO and Co-Founder of Educational Measures and sets the strategic direction for the company. Marc was recognized in 2012 as a Top 5 Most Influential Young Professional by ColoradoBiz magazine and is Six Sigma certified. Marc is an avid runner and he also enjoys designing and making his kids' halloween costumes every year.

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Imagine going through life never knowing you had bad vision. The landscape was fuzzy by default and reading from faraway, an impossibility. 

Then, someone hands you glasses, and suddenly the world transforms from an Impressionist painting of blurriness into a picture with sharp edges and distinction.

New, unexpected sources of data—and our ability to quantify them—are the magic glasses that bring clarity to live meetings.

Big Data in Live Meetings

In his book, "Humanizing Big Data," Colin Strong says, “New sources of data tell us what people are doing in an incredibly granular and intimate way.” He proceeds to describe this ability as the gateway toward recording and understanding not only what people are doing, but how these actions are shaping future behavior. Beyond measurable action, new sources of data also reveal what people are thinking and how they emotionally respond to content being presented or products being sold.

The formerly indistinguishable details of live meetings are now fair game for savvy meeting planners and marketers who know how to capture and understand them.

More Than Mere Existence

Conference apps are nothing new. They have been around awhile and haphazardly employed with wishful thinking and lackluster results. The valuable data that these apps hoped to capture is a holy grail attainable only with engagement technology.

The difference? Apps are frequently created but are simply an overview to what is actually happening at the conference, whereas engagement technology is hyper relevant and imperative to conference participation. With tools like EM's Array™, our second-screen technology, meeting participants engage with actual content in real-time. The technology is nimble and amenable to last-minute change and additions to ensure constant accuracy.

With these capabilities, we can measure engagement and then do something with it by capturing clicks, touches, notes and more. New polling systems even aim to understand the emotional response of participants. In place of typical evaluations, we can send out emoticons and have people select the one that matches their mood. Emotions are important, and married together with knowledge data, they are strong predictors of future behavior.

We are now at the early stage of incorporating simulations and virtual reality (VR) animations into an event. Many people are kinesthetic learners, and these types of tools allow us to understand them in a way that was previously unknown.

We can assess their thought process in a simulated environment by answering questions with conditional branching, and when incorrect decisions are made, the correct answer is reinforced with evidence-based information.

So What?

All of this data is undeniable cool, but so what? How does it actually impact the bottom line?

By capturing information and amassing it in a database, we have a valuable stockpile from which to understand meeting participants. Beyond a static spreadsheet, this dynamic tool can be used by subject matter experts to identify trends in a single meeting format and across multiple meetings when the data compounds. This information can also be cross-sectioned by any demographic—age, gender, profession, etc.

From these revelations, we can predict actions and behavior. Depending on the type of live meeting, this has various implications. For vendors, we can understand how and what the audience will buy; for financial institutions, where people will invest their money; for pharmaceutical companies looking to engage physicians, how these medical professionals will treat a patient or prescribe a new drug. 


The pop-culture acronym “TMI” means “too much information.” In the world of live meeting analytics, this is just never the case. There is never too much information, there are only inadequate methods of understanding and using the data.

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