On April 21 the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) in conjunction with consulting and systems integration company Optaros announced that they will be partnering to launch a new event management system (EMS). After the release went public I had a chance to hook up with a couple of the people involved in the project and was able to ask them further questions and find out more about their project and what it entails. I want to first thank Steve Snyder the CIO/CTO of the MCCA and Marc Osofsky, Vice President of Marketing at Optaros as they allowed me to take some of their time to find out more about their project.
I first phoned Marc Osofsky (pictured left) of Optaros to find out about his company and what they specialize in and how they were approaching the project with the MCCA. Optaros is a consulting firm of about 200+ employees and they handle the needs of over 70 companies across the U.S. and in Europe. Optaros was hired by MCCA to come up with a different approach to their event management system. The MCCA looked at what was available and found that off the shelf applications could handle only about 60% of their needs, and they were limited to only 2 companies that provide the top used systems in the convention and trade show industry. These options were not only not what MCCA needed it was also a very costly endeavor. Optaros sat down with MCCA and found out exactly what they wanted the event management system accomplish and through those efforts came up with the perfect solution. Using open source, and inexpensive applications already available, they were able to build the perfect EMS for the folks at MCCA. Osofsky was very pleased with the project and applauded the vision of MCCA.
â€œLike many specialized industries, the event management industry is ignored by large enterprise software players and niche providers that are not keeping up with customer requirements for enhancements,â€ said Marc Osofsky, vice president of marketing at Optaros. â€œInnovative players such as the MCCA are designing and rapidly assembling solutions using open source components.â€
The visionary at MCCA was their executive director James E. Rooney. At his direction, Steve Snyder (pictured right) ran with the project. I had a chance to sit down and have a phone conversation with Steve Snyder to find out more about their new system and hear the story behind why they decided to build their own EMS using the services of Optaros. After the first few minutes of our conversation, I could tell Snyder was well versed in the use of technology and found that he was very passionate about the program.
They first came up with the idea about two years ago when they had a chance to look at how it was that they did business. In fact, that was the question that Snyder asked, “How do we do business?” He came up with the answer in a 36 step process of what they do and how they do it. Their current system could not handle that process, and when he looked at other companies that were providing other event management systems their off the shelf products could only handle just over half of their needs. Having companies like Oracle, SAP or other large software companies build them the system was cost prohibitive and companies such as Concentrix couldn’t provide the data Snyder required. He knew there had to be a better way. Optaros proved to be that better way.
Snyder was impressed that the people at Optaros sent people out to the MCCA and literally watched over the backs of employees as they worked to see how they could make their lives easier. The release sent has a nutshell look at the EMS:
The EMS will enable MCCA staff to quickly and easily determine facility availability and book new events. Users will interact using a common interface for all modules, streamlining service order fulfillment and improving service delivery performance. The virtually centralized event management system will foster enterprise-wide collaboration and enhance internal communication across the entire organization, strengthening internal controls and minimizing the risk of procedural errors. Additionally, the EMS will manage workflow, customer contacts and business intelligence, among other business components.
Executive Director Jim Rooney goes on to reveal:
â€œWeâ€™re building this innovative new system with our customers in mind – weâ€™re confident that theyâ€™ll benefit from an ease of doing business, better access to information and an improved service experience all around.â€
MCCA is changing the way they do business to better fit the needs of Show Management, Exhibitors and Attendees. They are truly leading the way in this innovative thinking and they are leading the charge to doing events, trade shows and conventions differently using technology. At the end of my conversation with Steve Snyder it became very apparent that they are innovators in the convention space when he revealed that all of the MCCA properties including Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC), which was recognized by the 2007 Spotlight Awards as the â€œConvention Center of the Yearâ€, the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, and The MassMutual Center, have or will have free Internet access through the use of WIFI technology. Now that is innovative. I hope other convention sites will take note of this and follow suit.
If you are a event management company or manage a convention center, I urge you to take a minute and contact the folks at MCCA and ask them about their system and how you might be able to learn how they are changing the way convention management is done. They are truly out front leading the charge.