We create events. It’s a relatively simple business. But like most other businesses it’s more complicated than it appears on the surface. Although our people don’t typically have technical, scientific, or engineering background, there are specialty skills and unique knowledge required. And although we don’t produce a physical product, we’re very similar to this industry in that we’re extremely process oriented. Thinking of INTERPHEX as being an annual product launch with a fixed, immovable launch date might give you an interesting perspective as to how our process challenges are similar to the industry we serve.
We don’t do it all in-house. It doesn’t make sense for us to hire all the full-time employees or to make the capital expenditures it takes to put on an event. We outsource big chunks of our business for the same reasons as biopharmaceutical companies do:
• Cost Savings. We leverage suppliers who have much more significant economies of scale.
• Core Business Competency & Knowledge. Our core competencies are sales, marketing, and operational. We outsource everything else.
• Quality Improvement. Guaranteed through service level agreements.
• Capacity Management. We have specific functions and operations that are concentrated days or weeks around the actual event. It doesn’t make sense to have these resources year round
• Scalability. Through our business development efforts we’re continuously looking at launching or acquiring new businesses. Leveraging outside suppliers allows us to assimilate these businesses much more quickly.
So what are some specific examples of what we outsource? Well, the most blatant example is that we are not in the real estate business. We don’t own any convention centers and we lease the office space we use. In fact, we own very few physical assets. We hire specialized companies to handle registration and lead retrieval for capacity management reasons as well to stay away from capital expenditures. We have a long-term contract with a General Contractor who acts as the interface between us and the convention centers and labor unions. And we hire a fleet of temp workers at our events to handle a multitude of process and logistical tasks that need to be done to produce a successful event.
So, our business is relatively simple. We create marketplaces that bring buyers and sellers together. But the underlying processes are very involved. I sometimes describe the event management process as “the land of a million details”. And in order to do it well we outsource. Yes, we do it too.
Bob Stewart is the Industry Vice-President for INTERPHEX. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @INTERPHEX.