Sylvie Lachkar, the Sales Education Lead at SAP was heavily involved in the organization of FKOM, their annual conference, which bought together 5,000 of their employees.
We had the opportunity to meet her in the SAP Paris office to hear what she thought about the organization of the event.
Could you tell us a little bit about the event you organized?
Every year SAP gathers all of their European employees together for a week. This year more than 5,000 people met at Barcelona from 21-25 January 2013. The first three days were dedicated to presentations (there were about 300 different speakers in total!) and the following two days were dedicated to training and team and country meetings.
This year we wanted to make the event more interactive in order to promote networking and make our participants more active during presentations. I find people often forget that when the audience is participating actively, they remember more.
How did you choose the tool to make the event interactive?
My team and I spent hours brainstorming, thinking about what type of actions and tools to put in place. We thought about organizing games and other things like that. We did end up organizing some games, but these can only be done with small groups. The problem was, we needed a tool that could be used in 48 different rooms and for more than 5,000 people!
One of my contacts told me about a tool than he had used last year at the IT for Business Forum in Deauville, the Evenium ConnexMe application. I got in touch with Evenium to find out more about the tool. They gave me a demonstration of the app. I realized straight away that this was exactly what we needed.
My managers gave me a free rein to find an appropriate tool. The choice was easy because the application ConnexMe responds perfectly to our needs, it’s easy to use and there is barely anything you need to do to set it up.
The biggest strength of ConnexMe is its ease of use: both for participants and organizers. There is no need for any specific equipment and it works on all types of devices.
How did you encourage the speakers to use the application Evenium ConnexMe in their presentations?
Communication is the key to success so we had to tell people about the application before the event even started. With FKOM being a European event, our speakers came from a number of different countries which made this task a little more tricky.
Because of this, I decided to instruct our speakers using videoconferencing. With help from Evenium, I was able to organize about 10 demonstrations presenting the product and answering questions about it. I also created a written guide on interactivity. Everything went well and we had around 898 comments posted. The quality of comments posted onto the main screen added a great deal to the event.
The day before the event started, we organized a meeting with all the speakers to show them the tool and how it works. We also sent a message to them reminding them to use ConnexMe. We accidentally included our VIP speakers (including our President) in this email who hadn’t briefed about how to use the app. Several of our VIP speakers, including Eric Duffaut, the President of SAP Global Ecosystem Channels, contacted me directly to ask whether they could use the application. Eric, himself, chose to begin his presentation with a vote which he then talked about to introduce his speech.
Did the speakers make good use of the application?
Yes, definitely! Certain speakers based their entire presentations on using ConnexMe. Even those who hadn’t been told about ConnexMe in advance started using it straight away. That was even true for our President who had a lot of fun with the app in his presentation with the Chief Officer in front of the MDs. He looked at all the questions and asked for the ones he thought were the most important to show up on the main screen.
It was great that I could use the back office to organize last minute surveys during the presentations themselves.
When there were several speakers on stage, the app allowed us to have a real presenter. The presenter could look at all the questions and then show them on the main screen. This made the sessions a lot more interactive.
How did you let your attendees know about the app?
I thought it was important that the participants downloaded the app before arriving at the event so that they were ready to use it when they arrived.
Promoting the app to the participants was crucial. We sent personalized emails to all attendees which resulted in over 2,000 people registering for the app.
Once the participants had installed the application, we could communicate with them directly. We noticed that the participants used the app a lot and especially to communicate with one another, even though they could have used our internal social network.
We also added a slide introducing ConnexMe to the beginning of all of our speakers’ presentations.
On the first day of the event, I did a ‘hands up’ in the room. I asked everyone with a smartphone or tablet to raise their hands, and then asked all of those who hadn’t installed ConnexMe to keep their hands raised so I could see them. I reminded them to install the app which they duly did.
Did you have any problems with installation or technical issues?
There weren’t any technical issues, the only worry was knowing whether our speakers were going to know how to use the application. Often speakers were left on their own with the app and had to work the back office themselves but it was fine because the app works on its own, it’s really easy!
You do have to be careful with wifi though. We had a maximum of 30 wifi posts. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough for a good quality connection in the main rooms. We had to reorganize the position of the wifi posts at the last minute.
What surprised you the most?
At first, some of the organizers were scared that the participants and speakers wouldn’t use the application. I didn’t understand why they were skeptical and I was right because they were all very happy with the tool and how it was used.
Do you have any advice for people who want to use ConnexMe?
Yes, two tips. First of all, communicate! If you want your participants to use the app properly, you need to tell them about it. The other thing is, if your event is the size of FKOM (5,000 people, 48 rooms, 300 speakers) then you will need a specialist consultant on site.