It’s hard not to be skeptical when hearing the news that Bizzabo’s latest product revamp is being promoted as an OS, or operating system. In the 21st century, that technical phrase has become part of everyday language, and it’s most commonly understood to mean software used for the fundamental operations of a computer. It goes without saying that no one is going to be replacing macOS 11.0 or Windows 11 with Bizzabo.
What, then, is the thinking behind this rebranding? Reading between the lines, the core message seems to be that their product’s backend engineering has undergone some major overhauls. In practical terms, it seems to rest on three main initiatives:
- Weaving AI technologies into multiple parts of the platform
- Including more native features
- Updating the backend coding to make it easier to integrate other apps and programs
Why not just say that? The general consensus among event tech marketers seems to be that this kind of technical language will alienate many of their customers, and they may be right. The car industry might have popularized “German engineering” as shorthand for a well-built product, but event tech marketers rarely talk about the backend design of their software — and it’s something that can have a profound impact on the end user’s experience, whether it’s from the event organizer’s or the attendee’s perspective.
The Right Marketing Tactic for Smarter Event Technology?
Bizzabo’s marketing solution is to emphasize the “Event Experience” so much that they’re treating it as a product name, with “OS” tacked on as a shorthand way of communicating just how comprehensive their software is. (Monday.com has already made a similar move with its “Work OS”.)
Whether Bizzabo can justify calling their product an OS is really a semantic debate, and it ultimately doesn’t matter what the language police think. What matters is that it sends the right message to potential clients. Only time will tell whether this new marketing tactic is a stroke of brilliance or a recipe for customer confusion.
If it communicates that event platforms are becoming more and more like mini computers that can link to multiple apps, then it may have it the right note. After all, operating systems allow users to open multiple applications and coordinate between them. Further, most of us know that they have to be updated regularly so they can stay compatible with new technologies. This comparison may help event organizers understand that the same logic applies to event platforms, and it should influence their buying decisions.
While many companies may be aiming for the same end goals, not all of them will have the resources needed to make it happen — at least not as quickly.
How Bizzabo Explains the Rebrand
Alon Alroy, co-founder and CMO of Bizzabo, claims that their “Event Experience OS” rebranding is not just about drawing a comparison to existing technology in everyday use. “It is not just an analogy. We are actually building an operating system for event experiences,” he said.
What he seems to mean is that event organizers can use Bizzabo’s updated product as though it were an operating system designed around the needs of event planning:
“We’ve seen a massive gap in the market, so we decided to make a huge investment to build an open platform that enables event experience creators to focus on experiences vs. management. You can connect your favorite tools and you can manage everything from one place, with your data flowing seamlessly throughout.”
Alon Alroy, co-founder and CMO, Bizzabo
Part of Bizzabo’s “huge investment” in product upgrades went towards the acquisition of Whalebone (software that simulates the sounds of an engaged audience, most notably with clapping) and x.ai (an AI engine geared mainly towards networking suggestions and more efficient meeting booking tools). But Alroy is quick to note that the product redesign is not just about adding virtual “bolt-ons”.
“We see legacy players and new players doing a lot of acquisitions,” he explained. “The thing is that to have a real operating system, you need to have most of it built in-house, while also keeping the platform open enough to integrate other software.” According to Alroy, this kind of versatility and flexibility also makes it easier to pivot quickly between in-person, virtual, and hybrid event formats.
Alroy further stated that Bizzabo’s AI technology is weaved into every aspect of the event platform, so that an “event intelligence layer is connecting every part of the operating system”. In practical terms, Alroy said this means better content suggestions for attendees, more tailored and “authentic” networking recommendations, and more accurate engagement data for measuring event success and reporting on ROI.
As a final point, Alroy hinted that Bizzabo will be adding further clarity to the “operating system” concept with more product announcements in the coming month.
What This Means for the Larger Event Tech Market
Is Bizzabo the only player in the industry to make these kinds of product upgrades? Swapcard has already built a reputation around its AI capabilities. Admittedly, Bizzabo received a windfall of $138 million USD in funding last year, money that could have enabled market-leading product advancements. By the same token, however, Hopin received $400 million USD in investor funding earlier this year.
If Bizzabo is as much ahead of the pack as it claims to be, it’s probably only a matter of time before other market leaders catch up. The bigger takeaway may be that it will become harder and harder for smaller players to offer solutions as comprehensive as those being developed by the “operating system” leaders. We will likely witness an event tech market with a few players that have highly adaptable platforms powered by AI, and a larger number of SMEs with more limited offerings that increasingly cater to niche markets.
From the event organizer perspective, this will likely mean more choice and better options. The main downside is that it could also be the beginning of further market consolidation. Smaller event tech companies that aren’t able to stake out their corner of the market might end up being pushed out — or acquired.
Is Bizzabo’s latest product relaunch really an “operating system”? The claim may stretch standard language usage, but it may also be an effective way of communicating the next phase of top-tier event technology products.