INCON Expert Article
Digital Infrastructure - The kitchen, the chefs and wine matching?
By Daniel Branik
What does the kitchen, chefs and wine matching have to do with digital infrastructure?
It is the expertise of the chef, the tools in the kitchen and the ability in matching tastes between food and beverage that all contribute to an outstanding culinary experience. Similarly it is the combination of technology engineer’s expertise, their understanding of the clients’ needs and the right digital infrastructure, that put together properly, can produce the desired outcome. Technology can make or break an event and is often one of the items most talked about beyond the conference. Digital infrastructure, its configuration and how it is served can be the difference between making positive or negative outcomes and often has a flow on affect to items that are reliant on the infrastructure. For instance the conference app can run slowly if the infrastructure is saturated by heavy usage by delegates.
So what is required?
Delivering a great event technically, one needs to start with the kitchen, meaning the equipment that makes up the infrastructure. Bigger is not necessarily better and a lot of thought needs to go into the right equipment for the job. After distances, volumes, throughputs and the other key technical components are worked out, you need to take off the engineer’s hat and put on the client’s hat: What does the client want? How do they want to use the infrastructure? What type of systems do they need to use or bring with them?
There needs to be flexibility in the design and layout: Are there enough ports in each room? Are they located appropriately to avoid cable runs, especially across doorways?
Backend infrastructure needs to have room to move even if the venue is full with multiple events. Having a good understanding of your client’s events and how they need to use your infrastructure is paramount, as well as flexibility since no two events are the same.
Whether outsourced, in-house or a mixture of both is not the deciding factor in providing an efficient and customer focused service.
A fantastic chef/engineer could put together the most powerful solution, but if it is too complex, is not intuitive to use or it does not meet clients’ needs, it may generate poor user acceptance or worse, negative feedback.
Engineers need to be client focused and have the ability to put themselves in the clients’ shoes to ascertain how they will use it.
It is always a breath of fresh air to work with engineers who have good technical knowledge, are not arrogant know-it-alls, and are solution focused with strong customer service.
Each venue needs to work out what is the right mixture of staff versus outsourcing to meet their needs. Some clients are tech savvy and will not have the wool pulled over their eyes but those who are not, should not be made to feel inferior. We all have different expertise and the next client may not be tech savvy, but after all, that is not their job.
Matching performance and delivery with price is of paramount importance, as is configuring the infrastructure for the correct application. Having the right application, product and complimentary technology for an event needs to be carefully considered.
Getting to know your client and their expectations really helps in selecting the right product and making your infrastructure and staff work for the best possible outcome.
Important considerations to make this work are: What is the technology demand? Will the client require fast upload as well as download?
Are they using online application with high intensity points like voting and polling where speed and time really matter and can make or break the success of a session?
Wireless quality tends to be a sore point at many conferences, so how is the wireless configured? Coverage, high intensity areas and location of access points need to be planned.
For instance, placing your access points low with smaller coverage, but more of them could prove quite beneficial rather than placing them up high with large coverage "shouting" over the other access points.
So it is the combination of the kitchen, the chefs and careful matching of the wine that will produce great outcomes and together with competitive pricing will produce happy clients. Think outside of the box, there are many solutions and look for the smiling delegates as they roam around the venue using their 2.5 devices!
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Chief Information Officer
Arinex Pty Ltd
Daniel Branik became our CIO in 2016 after leading the Technology team at Arinex since 2003 and after two years in the role of General Manager. Daniel uses his extensive experience to drive technology at Arinex, ensuring a broad range of cutting edge technology services are available to our clients and to our staff across offices spread throughout Australia.
Daniel is the driver behind the development of an industry changing cloud application, eOrganiser a global first specifically designed to streamline and entirely automate the conference paper and program management process.
Daniel is currently on the judging panel for the INCON Digital Infrastructure Award, a global award for convention centres and conference hotels which is presented at IMEX Frankfurt each year. Daniel provides his technology and event experience to key events, including Malaria, LNG18 and annually to IEEE 802 Wireless Interim Meeting.