ES. Please tell us about your journey in the MICE industry.
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. My journey in the MICE industry started recently when I joined Pico in 2018. Previously I spent over 20 years in global 4As and independent online media agencies, transforming brands and enterprises. Rising from a Brand Strategist to being a Chief Strategy Officer for an Online Media Agency, in charge of one of the first Data Technology Centre in China. Now, as Chief Digital Officer for Pico Group, where I oversee Business and Digital Transformation.
ES. Please tell us about your current role in your organization.
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. As the Chief Digital Officer for the Pico Group. Many people know Pico as a longstanding partner for exhibition & event services. A few years before I joined, our leadership was already sounding the call to Go Digital, but my role represents a formal and concerted effort towards Digital Transformation. The scope of the transformation includes building backbone infrastructure of the entire digital operations, develop digital products and services, design new Digital Business Models.
ES. What are your views on the digital trends in MICE industry?
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. When I joined the MICE industry it was easy to see an industry ripe for digital transformation, with lots of legacy solutions in place. Whether it is at the operational level, or in marketing tactics, there is a lot of effort and investment happening in the MICE industry, but it is always worth asking – are we really transforming the way we do business? Or are we simply translating things into a digital format. In that regard, we have a long way to go. Especially when you think of the MICE industry is an industry of industries, we interact with all types of businesses, and the opportunities are all around us.
ES. How can technology help the industry going forward?
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. Efficiency, agility, Data-Driven intelligence, improved experience The key to an enjoyable experience being customer-centric but only data-driven, deep customer understanding can allow agency and brands understand the What, How and Why, behind customer actions and help the great the best ‘When’ to deliver the most relevant brand activations that drive meaningful conversions.
ES. What is your take on multiverse and its various dimensions that can align with our industry?
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. In terms of Metaverse, as a ten-year trend, the applications are still taking shape in exciting new ways every day. One way to think of the metaverse is as a conceptual framework that enables more offline to online hybrid experiences – that is good for our industry which is increasingly shifting towards hybrid events….Fareeda Cassumbhoy. In terms of Metaverse, as a ten-year trend, the applications are still taking shape in exciting new ways every day. One way to think of the metaverse is as a conceptual framework that enables more offline to online hybrid experiences – that is good for our industry which is increasingly shifting towards hybrid events….
Pico has helped our clients create unforgettable in-person brand activations for half a century. The ingredients are the same and the focus on the individual remains no matter if it is offline, online or in the metaverse. What Metaverse brings is a chance to know the customer better, their tastes and interests -even before they know themselves- making each event more impactful not only to our clients but also to our customers. Metaverse is also where we want to bring our measurement capabilities into the future. Leveraging on the shift to virtual during the covid period.
ES. What are some of your takeaways of virtual shows?ES. What are some of your takeaways of virtual shows?
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. We have already witnessed a huge learning curve in how virtual events are put on. From the beginning, you could see many organisers simply translating their programmes and content into digital format. It was easy to see that people simply do not have the same stamina for screen time, and it is harder to engage compared to face-to-face. We slowly saw the durations decrease as organisers realised so-called online attendees are not actually paying attention at all.translating their programmes and content into digital format. It was easy to see that people simply do not have the same stamina for screen time, and it is harder to engage compared to face-to-face. We slowly saw the durations decrease as organisers realised so-called online attendees are not actually paying attention at all.
It has become more apparent when the audience is not engaged – or worse – that the organiser has not successfully found the right audience at all!
Data and its impact on all aspects of experience deliver, such as measurement & programming, cannot be more apparent.
However, we were also able to use data to verify to identify so common event best practices that stays true even beyond just virtual events. This allows us to create our Pico ExQ™ – The AI Accelerated Analytics Calculator ™ to provide relevant data insights such as:
1. Keeping agendas around 5 hours
2. September being best time for events
3. Online events tend to have better attendance at the mid of the week whereas in person events tend to increase in attendance as the weekend approaches.
ES. What dimensions can Data Analytics, CRM and ESG play in respect to virtual shows?
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. The trap to avoid falling into is to think that – “more data = better insights”
Although the bar is higher for engagement, the data that is available is potentially more detailed, but it really comes down to Experience Design – if the organiser is not clear on who they trying to reach, and what they want that person to take away from the experience, then no amount of data can help.
ESG is the need of the future. It is the trend that we see the world moving towards. As we see from Millennials to Gen Z, sustainability and our ability to survival have become increasingly the top concern from first to developing countries. There is a need to do meaningful ESG, not just making a brand statement, and ensure that ESG is not just the responsibility of one individual, one team or department but a program that touches all corners of not only PICO but also our client’s business and industries.
CRM, with the emergence of blockchain and NFT (non-fungible tokens), is on the verge of a renaissance period. The 1:1 nature of the NFTs, it allows brands to access and engage their customers directly through their wallets. This will no doubt increase the quality and creativity of CRM content making CRM more personal and fulfilling for customers. All of this means that there will be an increasingly need for better data analytics for transparency, accountability, and ongoing optimization.
ES. What are the big upcoming trends you foresee in the virtual events and something that has impressed you in this domain?
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. We are already seeing these trends today. Custom design virtual experiences that are designed for platforms like Zoom, using its native functions and interface design to create unique team bonding moments. On the other hand, the blending of the virtual and the physical such as the recent Australia Open NFT campaign, is creating a completely new way for the virtual audience to be engage. I see this as part of general trend of brands moving away from attention to focusing the overall experience of the customer. Brands who are consistently focused on providing new value to their customers, rather than chasing the latest trend.
ES. What are the emerging opportunities and threats in MICE industry?
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. With the growth of virtual events, our concept of ‘event’ is changing, online seminar to me seems like an outdated term, which may go away, like teleconference, and telecommuting. One can imagine the landscape threatened by disruption, but I prefer to see a new landscape of opportunities. Currently, anyone can organise an ‘event’, anyone can grow an audience. For instance, online learning platforms and content are much more engaging than the typical online seminar.
What this means is that data analytics will become ever more important to understand not only what our customer are doing but how they are feeling – their entire experience with the brand. Therefore, I created the Pico ExQ ™ A.I. algorithm to measure the iQ of the experiences the PICO was creating for our clients. The biggest trend that I see facing the industry is complacency. As other sectors of advertising head turn more data and trackability, the MICE industry is still at is beginning stages of our transformation journey. However, as the end point and starting point of the customer journey, the MICE industry has the best potential to begin the crack the multi-dimensional layers of human experience.
ES. What are your upcoming plans?
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. Since before the pandemic, I have already been developing ways to measure the impact of events and experiences. As the pandemic went on, Pico has quick to developed innovated ways to measure experience for organisers, brands, and venues in the new era of channel-agnostic experiences. Having run over hundreds of virtual events in the past two years, we see promising results in our results, and we plan to roll out our Pico ExQ ™ pilot programs across our global markets as well as our PICO clients.
If you are interested, you can check out our newest Pico ExQ ™ [Link] calculator and see how your event scores again our internal benchmarks. Check it out!
ES. What message would you like to share with the industry?
Fareeda Cassumbhoy. If you cannot measure, you cannot understand. If you cannot understand, you cannot improve. Experience Analytics is the key differentiator.