As procurement professionals make increasing use of social media and online collaboration, the associations we belong to are doing the same. Search for procurement in your Apple or Android App Store and you’ll come up with more results than you might expect. Some of the best uses of the app format are companions to the conferences that take place throughout the year. Angry Birds they are not, but they do provide useful information for attendees and onlookers alike.
ISM, Procurement Leaders, and Sourcing Interests Group all have free apps available. They allow you to view speaker lists and biographies, manage your agenda, and take notes. They also look to integrate the face to face interactions with online networking by building Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn access into the app. This way, if you don’t know the event hashtag, or if you aren’t a ‘Tweeter’ yourself, you can browse the live stream of comments throughout the event.
All of the apps are effective sources of scheduling information, location and facility maps, and exhibitors. Although the navigation is similar, and many of the icons look identical, all three apps were designed by different companies and indicate different intended uses by the hosts. I downloaded all three apps to compare their functionality.
The ISM app I looked at is for a Symposium they did in conjunction with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in 2012, and was built by CrowdCompass. Surprisingly, ISM doesn’t have an app available for their annual conference in April – not yet anyway. One of the surprises of this app is that it lists the conference attendees by company and title in addition to the more expected as speaker bios. Since I didn’t need a login to access this information, ISM may be banking on the fact that no one would think to go looking for that in their app. The ISM/GBTA app is the only one of the three to have a QR Code reader built in, but I couldn’t tell from the app itself exactly how they employed that at the conference.
The app for the Procurement Leaders Forum 2012 in Boston (by Genie Mobile) is the only one of the three to require a Login. That being said, the only blocked feature I can see from the ‘outside’ is for networking. You can’t take your notes in this app, but you can give a thumbs up or down for each session. The news and blog streams continue to update even though the event is over, and their Twitter feed distinguishes Tweets as all, official, and unofficial. Since Procurement Leaders is a solid source of news and information, using this part of the app on a daily basis will give you another way to stay informed.
Sourcing Interests Group’s app for their Symposium series was designed by Core-apps. It offers the same general functionality as the other two, with one major addition: you can access the presentation for each session in PDF format and download it to your phone or email it to yourself. They’ve used this same functionality to allow you to email your session notes to yourself. You don’t have to be a SIG member to install the app or to download the materials, and no login is required. I think this is an interesting difference in attitude towards sharing the information from the event, and makes the app valuable to a much wider circle of professionals.
As these apps become more popular I can see further potential that includes video and audio from the events – whether entire sessions or interviews that take place on site. Integration with YouTube should make that a snap as long as the conference organizer can get the videos loaded quickly enough. For now they are being developed as attendee aides, but there is significant potential for these organizations to reach larger audiences with this material through a channel they have already created.
Look for more events to offer these Apps and for them to increase what they offer attendees and bystanders alike.