Assess your tech supplier

Not only equipment has to be fail-safe

The Internet of things (IoT) has received some bad press recently when the company behind Revolv announced that they are withdrawing all support for the product. Revolv is a little device that sits in your home and allows you to control lighting, heating and other home functions remotely via an app on a mobile device. The company behind it announced a while ago that they would be halting manufacture, but only now have they completely withdrawn support. Without that support it simply stops working – rendering it ‘as useful as a tub of humus’ according to one disgruntled user.

This has flagged up that IoT is a concept that really isn’t about ownership – think of it more as a rental agreement. You may own a device but without the internet infrastructure provided by the manufacturer it just won’t work.

The IoT hasn’t impacted on the meetings industry yet, but it will. And this situation got me thinking about long-term relationships and trust. The meetings industry is increasingly reliant on tech, and choosing a tech supplier can be tricky because once a level of commitment has been taken it can be hard to switch. Trust in the product can be gleaned by assessing how it works and by trialling it for a decent amount of time, but how do you assess a company’s intentions?

Even companies with the very best intentions, with great growth plans, secure finances and no desire to sell can be approached and made an offer they can’t refuse. Suddenly the company owner who convinced you that they are in it for the long haul is now handing a buy-out to a company who may or may not support the product and nurture your relationship. It’s widely accepted that around 10% of tech start-ups disappear each year and I think that is a conservative estimate.

Mistakes do happen too – just recently a hosting company ran a standard clean up procedure on their servers and managed to delete the websites of many of their clients – we don’t quite know how many (the figure wasn’t disclosed) but there was quite a lot of social media buzz about it and a lot of bad publicity for them. Especially when they admitted that it wasn’t backed up. Another hosting company simply went off line for 22 hours – and maintained radio silence for this period too, which infuriated their clients even more than the servers going off line. Imagine that happening to your event registration data. Imagine it happening the week of your event.  

So be careful who you entrust with your home, your business and, of course, your meeting. Do everything you can to feel comfortable with your chosen partner and make sure you have the systems and the infrastructure in place to protect your business continuity. Make sure you take responsibility, too, by making back-ups and having contingency plans. Nothing lasts forever, so make sure you are prepared for every eventuality.

Invest only in proven technology
Don’t believe the hype!

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