Events Community Aligns to Set Standards on Data
Many of the same industry giants cooperating on safety standards for a return to live events have found common ground again with a new baseline format to collect and track data.
Virtual Standard Export Format (VSef), formally unveiled on Tuesday, has already won widespread adoption from leading event organizers and technology companies. Helming this standardization mission is Explori, which hopes that by creating a universal standard the industry can successfully integrate virtual and hybrid elements into traditional face-to-face gatherings.
The launch comes as trade shows and other large-scale events appear to be on the cusp of returning in relatively full force. But even as World of Concrete and other shows begin final preparations, there is an acknowledgment that technology advancements made in the past year will not simply be tossed into a virtual trash can.
Explained Explori CEO, Mark Brewster: “Our research suggests organizers use, on average, four different event technology platforms. The data produced by these platforms often looks very different from one provider to the next. Three quarters of organizers told us they found it challenging to integrate data from virtual platforms into other systems.”
He added: “These challenges are barriers to learning, progress and business intelligence. That is why we brought together a working group to create a universal data format that enables events to consume consistent data regardless of which platforms they are working with.”
Among the key data points at the heart of this initiative are attendance, registration and participation. VSef sets definitions for all involved parties to adopt, allowing for apples-to-apples comparisons of one event to another. It should, in theory, add value to sponsors seeking to properly measure their ROI when attempting to reach audiences across myriad channels.
UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has adopted the format and will advocate on its behalf. SISO; ICE, the international corporate events community and the Virtual Events Institute are listed as supporting organizations.
Tarsus Group, Clarion Events, Emerald, Informa Reed, already working together in the Events and Conferences Alliance, are continuing the all-for-one trend. Intrado, Grip and Swapcard are among the half-dozen tech companies on board at the start.
Dr. Barış Onay is chair of the VSef working group. He stressed the importance of this project as the events industry, which sometimes struggles to progress, has been forced to embrace many tools that have been around for years.
“The silver-lining in the pivot to digital has been the data-rich environment we organizers now find ourselves in,” Onay said. “But we have a huge standardization job at hand if we’re to benefit from this newly found trove of data. VSef has been designed to solve this problem; to provide an open source standard. I for one am looking forward to receiving data from different platforms in one format!”