The recent roll-out of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) website has fueled all kinds of debates lately:
- Was the site ready to launch on October 1?
- Should it have been delayed?
- How can it be fixed?
Over at Hubb, we aim to stay above politics and rather find the important lessons contained in these dilemmas.
So what can tech savvy event planners learn from the woes of Obamacare? I'm glad you asked.
The Importance of Technology Integration
The Health Insurance Marketplace is meant to be a marvel of technology, for sure. It matches citizens from across the nation with health care providers who create insurance plans to fit the needs and resources of their potential customers.
That ain't easy.
Doing this requires a complex network to integrate the central database with every participating provider. And guess what: none of them use the same system.
As modern event architects, we often find ourselves in similar pickles. We have a content management platform that serves as a single source of truth for all of our data, but we need to make it accessible to a variety of other service providers.
To ensure this process is effective, we must have the proper APIs and web services in place, and we’ve gotta understand how that process works. If we don't, the data will get lost in transit and critical features will stop working.
Just like the Affordable Care Act website.
Know Who Is Responsible
If there's one thing we can count on from any government, it's a whole lot of finger-pointing. Politicians love to accuse each other of dropping the ball while never claiming responsibility for a problem or attempting to fix it.
This phenomenon has been ever present in the roll-out of HealthCare.gov with members of each party blaming other people, including the President, of failing to properly launch the website.
Unfortunately for us, this issue isn't unique to elected officials. Too often, meeting planners' data gets lost or corrupted because of a faulty API or broken web service. When this happens, who gets blamed?
The content manager blames the ancillary vendors for not handling the data properly. The single-use apps blame the content manager for not writing good APIs. The attendees and speakers blame you for messing up the planning process, and you blame a poor, unpaid intern who made the mistake of coming to work on a day when stuff really hit the fan.
The lesson here is to know your single source of truth. Take the time to meet your technology vendors and nominate one provider who will be the default source of information when conflicts occur. Be sure you know exactly how information is flowing through the APIs and along the web services, and be able to track data along this path to see where the conflicts happen.
Really Rock Your Roll-Out
The lesson from all this is to take your event technology integration seriously. Be an active participant in the process, and don't simply rely on technology vendors to solve problems with your interests in mind.
Your events probably won't impact millions of people and influence elections like the Affordable Care Act website does, but it's still important for you to ensure a smooth user experience. When you do, you'll look like a total rock star instead of a stammering politician.