All rise for this week’s Event Tech Podcast on event app platforms! This is far from being the first time we’ve covered event apps on the blog. However, today we’re going deeper into this complex subject. When we’re talking about event app platforms, there are always two sides of the debate. Should you go for the “master platform”? The one that does everything you could hope for in a single place? Or should you choose the tool that specializes extremely well on a single thing?
This is something that concerns every business, but we’re placing focus on choosing event tech and event app platforms. After all, what is the best course of action here? That’s exactly what our hosts Brandt Krueger and Will Curran will be discussing today. We’re all about helping you make the best possible choices when it comes to your events. So hopefully, today we’ll be able to shed some extra light on the subject of event app platforms. Press play, it’s Event Tech Podcast time!
Event App Platforms: Generalist vs Specialized
Brandt doesn’t seem to be on board with the whole master of none designation “because it feels a little negative. So, I’ve always kind of gone with more of the specialist versus a generalist. A specialized service or a specialized person who’s a soundboard engineer, or it’s someone who has a little bit of talent in a bunch of different areas as more of a generalist”. He much prefers the generalist approach, and the same goes for event app platforms.
Let’s Talk Integrations
It’s important not to forget the paradigm we live and operate in. For instance, Will reminds us of the fact that many Jack of all trades apps allow for integrations. Some apps exist that make it possible to have all sorts of things in a single platform. But then again, they’re also more than happy to integrate with other apps that you use in your every day.
The Judgement: Generalist
The Data Issue
“Let’s start with this”, says Will. “When you have everything in one single place, the database is shared. So, less data entry, less physical work you typically have to do because it’s all-in-one, right?”. Yes, that’s true. However, Brandt also reminds us that all of these elements were independent at some point in time, which means they might not work together as well as we’d hope.
“Does it make sense that they’re working behind the scenes to streamline that process to get those things talking to each other? It might not quite be as seamless as you want it to be. So it’s important to know, if these products developed simultaneously, in conjunction with each other or, at the very least, by the same kind of developer before they were bolted together and forced to talk to each other?”, he questions.
That’s definitely a con. But when it comes to “keeping your data clean, keeping your data accurately translated, that’s when you need to start looking at those all-in-one solutions”. Of course, adopting a platform like this isn’t all fun in games. As Brandt puts it, “it just takes time to find the right platform that’s going to do exactly what you need, tailored perfectly to your needs versus it just works out of the box with all of these different modules”. Plus, they tend to be quite pricey.
How Does It Look, Though?
There’s also the issue of design when it comes to these all-inclusive platforms. “I found that usually when these big master platforms exist, the reason why they’ve gotten so big is that they’ve been in existence for so long. Therefore, they tend to have a lot of old code and a lot of old design and tends to make it not look as pretty. You don’t really usually get this clean, sleek, simple tool. You tend to get this juggernaut of complexity”, explains Will.
The Complexity Is Real but The Customization isn’t
When we’re talking about such complex platforms, we need to talk about what it takes to master them. “Sometimes, these generalist all-in-one tools are just so complex…you have to know about every little feature. You really need to get almost certified in the software”, adds Will. There are actual certifications for some of these softwares – that’s how complex they are!
Additionally, there isn’t a lot of customizable power on the user end. “And if it isn’t really customizable, it tends to be really expensive to do it or really complex to do it but you don’t tend to have a lot of nitty-gritty control into what you can do”, says Will.
The Judgement: Specialized
Can I Do It Myself?
“A lot of companies start to then roll their own software. So, they’re not happy with the juggernaut. They’re not happy with the specialist softwares that are out there. They’re like, “Oh, you know, we’ve got coders. Let’s do it ourselves”, says Brandt. “The pro obviously is it is going to be exactly what you want. You have complete and utter control over every single aspect of the app or the software that you’re using. You’re able to get it to do exactly what you want it to do. The downside of rolling your own is you now are 100% completely responsible for the support of that app”.
It might not be worth the risk. All in all, “yes, you can do that. Yes, it’s going to save money. But then you’re responsible for it”.
We Need Integrations
“I think if you’re looking at specialized, the first thing you have to look at is specialized but with integrations”, says Will. “I think that if you’re choosing a specialized tool unless it’s really only that one thing, you have to make sure that has native integrations as well”. Brandt agrees, and adds on the importance of integrations: “If you are going to put together your own modules based on different services, then making sure that those integrations are seamless is kind of the next level for making sure that your data is flowing properly from site-to-site and using native integrations, as opposed to some kind of third-party”
Choose Us, We’re Like, Really Good
The obvious pro of going with an event app platform that’s specialized is the specialty. Get it? “One of the big benefits that you get is that they are very, very, good at one thing”, says Will. And the best way to go about choosing one is being honest with yourself. Why are you choosing this platform? What is it that they do so well that drives you to choose this app as opposed to one that can do a lot more things?
“Just because everybody and their dog is using platform X, it does not mean it’s the best platform for you. There’s literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of event apps that are out there. So, just because everyone’s using this company or everyone’s using that company does not mean that that’s the right platform for you”, says Brandt.
Beware Of The Turn-Cloaks
It’s not unheard off for platforms that originally start as specialized, to slowly move towards the generalist group. Brandt and Will advise you to be careful with this since it can be somewhat of a red flag.
“If you start landing on a piece of software and you start seeing them add really left-field things, really kind of start pushing back a little bit and ask, “Why is that being added,” and, “What else is on the roadmap?” If it’s this weird, bizarre roadmap of features, you might want to start looking around for something else. Because it doesn’t usually end well when they start rushing things out and then trying to be everything to everybody”, is Brandt’s solid advice on this matter.
Will adds that “you have to ask yourself, “Do I even have time to even think about these other extra features that I’m going to get or do I want this one single thing to do this really, really well?”.
Is It Really Cheaper?
Of course, we’re going over the price on this as well. “When you’re at that point where you have so many different tools, it adds up just as quick as having the master all-in-one tool. You might think to yourself, “Oh, it’s only $10,” but then you need another tool that does $10 and another one and another one. Before you know it, you’re up to that $1,000 a month, that all-in-one is going to potentially be cheaper. So, something to just keep in mind is as you start to break it out is do you end up spending more money in the end run doing the specialist version as well”, says Will.
Do I Need These Many?
Currently, Will is at 90 different specialized platforms. Now, keep in mind that the host of Event Tech Podcast are very much into technology, and it’s no secret that we tend to go quite nerdy on this show! But are you really okay with having so many things to deal with? What about your team?
“You need to not only think of yourself but also your team. You might have people on your team that might be uncomfortable having five different event app platforms, the log-ins for five different things to make your event go. So, bearing in mind the people that you work with as well, who are your internal stakeholders, that’s something to keep in mind”, says Brandt.
Event App Platforms: The Verdict
When it comes to choosing either generalist or specialized platforms, here’s what Brandt has to say: “All of it, for me, boils down to why are you doing this? Why do you need this software? What is it for? Whose life are you trying to improve? The attendees, yours, your teams? All of those things, it always comes back to the why”.
Will emphasizes the importance of integrations: “Integrations are the number one most important thing, I believe, in software. Because far too often, we pick a tool that doesn’t integrate and we spend more time copying/pasting, never seeing that data go between each other. I think the reason why our software tools are so powerful is that we share the data amongst them and we’re able to see correlations, and save time”.
That’s a wrap on this week’s Event Tech Podcast! When it comes to event app platforms, there’s quite a bit to be said. And whether you’re more of a generalist or more of a specialist, we hope this episode gave you something extra to think about. Don’t forget to tune in next week for more event tech talk!
- Brandt Krueger & Will Curran’s Favorite Event Apps
- Product Hunt
- A Complete Guide to Conference Event Apps