Richmond Events: Cloud makes us ‘free to focus’

Jennifer Scott Case Studies
16 Jan, 2012

Cloud hosting from Star has helped Richmond Events ‘change the face of business conferences in the UK.’

Richmond Events provides conferences in the UK a bold new format based on personalised meeting agendas and one-to-one supplier meetings, all within multi-day events which are free-to-attend for delegates and targeted at specific job roles.

From its roots over 20 years ago, Richmond Event’s business model has relied on advanced database marketing – even before such a term was commonplace. The 75 employee London-based business still relies heavily on the intellectual property contained within its global IT systems staying ahead of fierce competition from rivals.

However, as the business evolved, Richmond Events needed more flexible IT to deal with the growing data of conference schedules and the increasing complexity.

Liam Quinn, IT director at Richmond Events, said: “Our uniqueness is that delegates attending our events can create individual itineraries and no two itineraries are the same.”

“People may not realise how complex a task this is, but it means all of our websites and CRM systems are bespoke. Customers can select from a richer set of supplier and conference information and in turn disclose more preferences.”

As an early adopter of managed hosted services from Star, the flexibility offered has been a lifesaver for the company. While customer expectations have grown, the number of employees available to service these needs has gone the other way. Add to that the bubble bursting in 2000 and 11 September 2001, a significant downturn meant the company needed to re-size to survive.

Fortunately, the absence of substantial and inflexible investments in servers, software licences and the use of standardised virtual desktops (rather than PCs) meant IT could make the right business decision and scale down to a workforce around 50 per cent of its pre-downturn level, without reducing operational capability.

The subsequent procurement process was changed forever, keeping the cloud essentials of flexibility, agility and option to scale up as well as down whenever required, as top priorities.

This did lead to a change in the role of IT though, with a team not needed for keeping the lights on but ensuring the customer experience was top notch.

This means employees get a much richer service and Quinn can focus his resources on the core business, maintaining the company’s differentiation in the events market they operate in. 

“Thanks to our eight years of experience with managed services, our day-to-day activities have changed significantly,” he said.

“We are no longer engaged in the typical cycle of daily interventions an IT team has to make just to keep the systems and people working. For a business of our size this would be a terrible drain on resources.”

Quinn added: “Now, we are free to focus on areas like the support model - not necessarily what the escalation processes look like on paper - more how it works in real life.”

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