Measuring the Success of Your Events

During the summer months, the rate of government events tends to slow down, presenting a great time for reflection and planning. With this in mind, we wanted to outline some thoughts on how to measure the success of events. Whether it's setting goals for future events or looking back on past events, these tips will help ensure everyone is informed on what success looks like.

  • Set Clear, Specific Goals and a Call-to-Action - Events are a piece of an overall marketing strategy and serve as a way to advance the brand and drive business. While setting goals around revenue and attendance are important, each event should also have a post-event call to action tied to it. What do you want attendees to do after they leave? Buy a product? Schedule a meeting? Attend another event? Clearly define this goal and ensure that the event is planned with this desired result in mind.
  • Measure Twice - While overall satisfaction scores gathered through surveys are important, it is also critical to measure satisfaction across different elements of the event. This includes speakers, venue, food, timing/logistics, registration, cost, staff, and more. An overall satisfaction score could be pulled down by just one element or by a combination of multiple elements. Knowing the satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, in each element helps pinpoint the biggest opportunities for improvement.
  • Dig into Social - If you highlighted social interaction as part of your event (or even if you didn't) take a look at what was said over social media. Go beyond the number of shares, likes, and hashtag mentions and look at the sentiment. Were attendees simply saying they were there or were they excited enough about what they were hearing to share soundbites from speakers and thoughts on the event content?
  • Missed Numbers Doesn't Mean Failure - If the event went over budget or did not bring in the expected revenue, it does not mean that it was a failure. These numbers indicate a need for more informed planning and forecasting. Look at what you may have gained beyond the bottom line. How much did you increase the number of opt-in email addresses gathered through the event? Did event content generate social media buzz and/or media coverage?

We'd love to hear your thoughts on what signals success for your organization and how you measure it. Let us know in the comments.

We Want You…To Mark your Calendar

The landscape for battle is shifting quickly. From the emergence of cyber warfare to the physical battlefield moving from fields into cities, our military is undergoing a huge transformation. Additionally, military spending priorities are rapidly changing and military professionals are expected to pursue continuing education and specializations. Luckily there is a wide array of events tailored for the armed forces.

We wanted to highlights some of the major events that should be on the calendars of anyone involved with the DoD. Continue reading

Agencies Are A Step Closer to Creating Their Own Siri

From time to time GovEvents will come across information we feel our members and audience would benefit from. Here's something we wanted to share:

Federal agencies are a step closer to automating some of their common customer service processes using artificial intelligence.

The General Services Administration recently wrapped a pilot that walked federal agencies through the process of building chatbots and other intelligent personal assistants similar to Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa.

Graduates of that pilot have developed some basic prototypes--a single chatbot that lets users access Small Business Administration licenses, Internal Revenue Service tax credits, Forest Service park permits, and Health and Human Services Department benefits, for one. But prototypes weren't the point of the pilot, GSA's Emerging Citizen Technology Office lead Justin Herman told Nextgov--instead, it was to help agencies understand what they'd need before they can fully deploy intelligent personal assistants.

One finding, Herman said, was that agencies need to assess their cloud services, as chatbots and voice-controlled virtual assistants would need to pull information from the internet. Agencies also need to think about the way they structure the data the assistants might pull from, especially if that includes personally identifiable information from citizens, he said.

It's not yet clear where in each federal agency responsibility for creating intelligent personal assistants falls, Herman told Nextgov. Agencies such as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Labor Department completed the workshop and brought varying personnel, including public affairs officers, Python developers and innovation teams.

"No agency came at this pilot the same way," Herman said.

Herman's team, which has worked to help agencies adopt social media to better connect with citizens, has noticed new technology is generally initially relegated to a technology shop.

"Eventually, access to these services spreads down to the just the program level," Herman said, who explained he anticipates a similar pattern with intelligent personal assistants.

In the hackathon culminating the workshop, out of which agencies' prototypes emerged, federal employees worked alongside representatives from Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle. In the future, depending on the platform, agencies might be able to develop their own assistants in house with little coding knowledge. A Labor Department team put together three Amazon Alexa skills with no prior experience, for instance. Others might need to contract out to technology companies directly.

GSA is planning a showcase to demonstrate how intelligent personal assistants could be used in government. In the meantime, Herman's team is collecting feedback from agencies about how the pilot helped them and what they need to be able to develop their own virtual assistants.

Though it's summer and the White House has recently undergone a transition, Herman said he was surprised at how representatives from some agencies are already cooking up new project ideas. Some are thinking beyond "how can we apply this to [getting] open data into services," he said, and instead considering combining chatbots with web forms and call centers using artificial intelligence.

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Online or In-Person: It’s Not a Zero Sum Game

Streaming video and high availability of video collaboration applications have made virtual meetings and events more viable and desirable. This does not mean the demise of in-person events and meetings; on the contrary, it signals a human desire to see and interact with one another.

As we've written in a number of posts here, attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors no longer want to be passive participants in an event. Sitting back and just listening and taking notes is not enough. A logo on a sign is not enough. Booth space is not enough. All participants are looking for interaction and engagement with each other and with the event as a whole. While online interactions are convenient, the connection made online translates into a desire for in-person interaction. A study from Digitell found that "up to 30% of people attending a live streamed event have attended the live physical event the following year."

Continue reading

Opening Public Services to Artificial Intelligence Assistants

From time to time GovEvents will come across information we feel our members and audience would benefit from. Here's something we wanted to share:

"Hey, Computer, how do I access my public services?"

Citizens will soon be able to ask their Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA) this question through an Emerging Citizen Technology open-sourced pilot program. The purpose of the initiative is to guide dozens of federal programs make public service information available through automated, self-service platforms for the home and office such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana and Facebook Messenger.

Last week, participants from more than a dozen federal agencies, both in D.C. and virtually around the country, joined to create prototypes using open data for AI Personal Assistants like voice-activated assistants, chatbots, intelligent websites and automated call centers.

The teams worked side-by-side with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle, MITRE and Dcode42 to collaborate on ways to help citizens get information they might need faster and more efficiently.

The U.S. Federal AI Personal Assistant Pilot, part of the new Emerging Citizen Technology Program, is combining the most advanced technology from U.S. businesses with existing data to make public services more accessible. Almost three dozen federal agencies stepped forward to participate in the pilot, along with U.S. businesses who are industry leaders, entrepreneurs and startups who have never worked with government before.

The hackathon far exceeded our intended outcomes, with more than a dozen proofs of concepts developed in D.C. and among teams in Chicago, San Francisco and other regional federal offices.

Here are a few examples of the prototypes that were created:

  • A tornado alert and information service from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Career center resources for the American workforce from the Department of Labor.
  • A unified self-service chatbot for programs from nine different agencies, including U.S. Small Business Administration licenses, Internal Revenue Service tax credits, U.S. Forest Service park permits, and Department of Health and Human Services benefits.

We are planning a new event at the U.S. General Services Administration Central Office next month that will showcase proofs of concepts developed by federal agencies and U.S. businesses. We will also open a new roadmap and suite of shared resources for all public services to use to effectively and efficiently evaluate and pursue adoption of intelligent personal assistants.

GSA's Emerging Citizen Technology Program unites federal agencies across government through pilot programs and collaborative Communities to develop the shared resources needed to efficiently and compliantly adopt emerging technologies for which agencies identify business cases but no guidance or inadequate resources may exist, including Artificial Intelligence for Citizen Services, Blockchain, Virtual/Augmented Reality, and Social Technology.

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