Omnipress 2020: Continuous Tech Improvement for Meeting Planners

2019 was both an exciting and challenging year for both meeting professionals and Omnipress. Overall, the meetings industry saw steady growth, with many organizations reporting at least modest increases in attendance. Meeting planners continued to experiment with the event format to offer more collaborative and personalized learning for attendees. They also continued to embrace event technology to streamline operations, gather better data, and elevate the attendee experience.

While the growth of new event technology options provides tremendous opportunities for association conferences, it also presents some challenges—namely, how to select the best tech from the ever-growing list of options. Not to mention getting their tech stack to work together seamlessly,  making the most of a busy schedule with limited time.

Omnipress Expanded Event Technology Offerings in 2019

In 2019, Omnipress continued to invest heavily in product development to provide event technology tools that integrate seamlessly, while providing an exceptional experience for meeting planners and end-users. Some highlights from the year include:

    • Launched a new role-based user dashboard for our CATALYST® Abstract Management Software that provides more useful at-a-glance information for submitters, reviewers, and event administrators
    • Increased the functionality of the conference scheduling tool within CATALYST to make it even easier for meeting planners to create a complete conference agenda that manages speakers, sessions, and schedule conflicts
    • Expanded our external integrations for CATALYST, including YourMembership® and Abila® association management systems, Attendify® mobile event app, iThenticate® plagiarism detection software, and the IEEE Xplore Digital Library®
    • Enhanced the integration within our own tech stack so meeting planners can easily publish their conference schedule right from CATALYST to an online event schedule and the mobile event app.

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In 2020, the momentum will continue with even more product updates to help meeting planners access and leverage meaningful data to make even better decisions, streamline operations, and enhance learning before, during, and after the conference.

We will also maintain the ongoing investment in our people and processes so Omnipress can continue to provide unrivaled one-on-one guidance and support from experts who have worked on thousands of conferences.

Omnipress has always been more than just an event tech company and print provider. We’ve been working alongside associations for more than forty years. We understand the important role education plays in fulfilling your mission. This is why our mission has always been to make it easier for you to deliver educational materials to your members, attendees, and learners—regardless of the tools being used. In 2020, we will continue our commitment to providing products and services that meet the evolving needs of association professionals.

The Benefits of an Integrated Abstract Management System

Software integrations extend the functionality of the systems we rely on every day. If your association uses an AMS to manage your member data, you know the benefits of having the most up-to-date information about your members, all in a single location. That’s why we’ve designed our CATALYST abstract management system to integrate with many of the most popular AMS providers.

Watch Omnipress General Manager Jonny Popp talk about the benefits this integration strategy provides for our customers, as well as those submitting information to CATALYST.

 

Expect Exciting Updates in 2018

 

There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes at Omnipress!

I wanted to use this month’s post to share some of the exciting things our customers can expect from us in 2018. You can watch the video or continue reading below.

The conference-related initiatives we are focusing on this year build on the success we’ve had launching our newest abstract management system, CATALYST. Customer reaction to CATALYST has been fantastic and there has been a lot of positive feedback on the flexibility of the system.

While CATALYST remains an efficient way for event professionals to collect and manage their conference content, we also have some new initiatives underway that will make it easier than ever to get that content into attendees’ hands.

One clear message we’ve heard from talking with our customers is that there is no single format that meets the needs of all attendees. As a result of these conversations, we’re investing in the tools and processes that will help meeting planners create—and manage—a consistent content experience for all attendees, whether they prefer a printed program book, mobile app or online and offline access to digital materials.

Omnipress consists of more than our products, however. I am privileged to lead an amazing team that is truly dedicated to seeing our customers succeed. As our customer roster continues to grow in 2018, we’ll be making investments in our staff and the tools they rely on, to make sure we deliver the outstanding customer support our clients expect from us. We know a lot of our customers think of us as an extension of their staff, and that is a compliment we want to continue to hear throughout 2018, and beyond.

 

Video Transcript

Jonny Popp – Omnipress General Manager:

“2018 is going to be a very exciting year at Omnipress!

“Back in 2016, we launched our new online abstract management system, CATALYST. The first time a meeting planner sees CATALYST, a lot of time their first reaction is how clean, how modern that the interface looks. After that though, they start to realize how flexible the system can be and how many different things it can collect and different ways it can be configured, to really fit their needs.

“As we move through 2018, you can expect to see a lot of new and exciting things from Omnipress.

“We have been investing in our other tools, we’ve been investing in our people and our processes. Because as good as technology is, and as much as technology makes a difference, it’s really the people that are behind it, they are supporting you and what you are trying to do, that really makes the difference.

“We know that planning a meeting is hard and there’s a lot of work that goes into it and a lot of steps along the way, and we want to make sure that our tools and processes are helping you along the way.”

 

ASAE 2017 and The Anniversary Effect

 

A few years ago I read an article on the topic of The Anniversary Effect, which is defined as a unique set of feelings, thoughts or memories that occur on the anniversary of a significant experience. Oftentimes, we experience these emotions without realizing why…until we get a good look at the calendar.

Last Year At This Time…

As we head into August, I will freely admit that The Anniversary Effect is in full swing. While all of us here have been gearing up for the ASAE Annual Meeting, I have been filled with an overwhelming sense of excitement, anticipation and even nostalgia.  Just recently I realized why. It was at ASAE Annual one year ago that we unveiled CATALYST®, our newest abstract and speaker management system.

It is truly amazing to see how much can happen in a year. CATALYST has been extremely well-received by association professionals in search of a more logical way to manage their submission and review process. And while the feedback to date has been tremendous, we are always looking to keep that feedback loop going, using real-time insights we learn from meeting planners to continue its evolution and development. We have already released five series of updates over the course of the past year, and version 2.0 will be on its way soon!

Meanwhile, as part of an industry that is ever-changing, we have increased our staff and expanded our skills and knowledge so that we can continue to help associations turn their educational content into a valuable resource for their members.

Fast Forward to ASAE 2017

With so much going on and so much to talk about, it’s only fitting that we’ll have a bigger presence than ever at ASAE, so that we have space to connect with each of you one-on-one. Bob, Matt, Tracy and Janel will be on hand in booth 119 to listen to your challenges and share ideas on how to leverage your educational content for your conferences and training programs.  Are you trying to find the right mix of print and digital formats for your attendees or learners? Need ideas on how to increase the visibility of your programs? Looking for a simpler solution to collect, produce and distribute content to attendees and learners? You don’t have to figure it out on your own. Between the four of them, they have worked with thousands of associations, and can share their learnings with you.

Now that I think about it, I may be just as excited about what has happened, as I am about what’s still to come here at Omnipress.

For those of you attending ASAE, we wish you safe travels, and look forward to seeing you there!

The One Word Solution To Avoid Mission Drift

As a company with technology at its core, we are always keeping an eye on the big picture trends. Over the past few years, one trend that continues to pick up steam is the shift towards integrations.

Rather than trying to meet every possible need of your customers, integrations allow you to focus on your area of expertise. You then find partners with complementary offerings and create a seamless connection between products for your customers. The theory goes that by specializing in one particular niche, you are able to do it better than anyone else. And when you work with companies that share this philosophy, it creates a better overall experience for your customers.

Applying This Idea to Your Association

The benefits of this approach go far beyond software development. In fact, I started to think about how useful this thinking can be to our customers, as well. How much of what your association does is core to its mission, and how much of your staff’s time is spent on efforts that don’t support your overall goals? This “mission drift” is a common issue in the non-profit world. A project that may have started as a one-time request might now be an established offering. Over time, these seemingly small distractions can add up. Think about the priorities these non-essential tasks have kept your organization from completing.

The fix for mission drift begins with a fresh look at your association’s mission statement. How well does your mission support what your members see as your true value? Areas that your staff spends time on that don’t support these outcomes provide a good starting point to ask, “Is this something we should be offering?” You may also explore if there are others that can provide this service better than you currently do.

For Omnipress, our core mission is to help associations deliver educational content to their members. Over the years, the tools we use have changed, but this central focus remains. In fact, before we offer a new product or develop a new feature of CATALYST, we ensure it will support our goal. It’s also critical that we believe we can provide this service to our customers better than anyone else can. If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” we’ll look for a partner that can help us provide the best possible experience for our customers.

Avoiding Mission Drift

Saying “no” is often harder than saying “yes” to a member. It is, however, necessary. Avoiding mission drift, especially in the non-profit world, is essential if you want to be able to deliver on your goals. For each association the answer about which areas to focus on will be different. For Omnipress though, our mission has remained the same for over 40 years: To help your association deliver the content your members value.

Finding Much to be Thankful for This Year

Thank you to all of our customers

First off, I would like to thank all of our customers. We know the trust you put in us throughout the year and we take that responsibility seriously. Whether we are helping you collect conference materials more efficiently, create a publication for your members or deliver training materials to your learners, we thank you for allowing us to be a part of your team.

Thank you to the CATALYST beta testers

A special thank you to the customers that volunteered to beta test CATALYST with us. You provided some great feedback! Having your insight into how event professionals use the system in real-world scenarios was an important step in the development process. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see the system that we spent so much time designing actually be put to use. We very much look forward to sharing CATALYST with more customers as their collection sites open next year.

Thank you to our employees

Thanks to your hard work, we continue to hit the goals we’ve set for ourselves, and continue to exceed the expectations of our customers. I truly enjoy sharing the positive feedback with you that we receive from our customer survey. (And customers, if you’d like to share your “Thanks” with an employee, please continue to take part in our post-job follow-up survey.) It’s clear that our customers appreciate all the effort you put in to make sure Omnipress stays true to its mission. This truly is a special team and you are what makes Omnipress the place I look forward to coming every day.

40th Anniversary

There is even more to be thankful for this year than usual. November 25th (the day after Thanksgiving) marks the 40th anniversary of Omnipress. That’s the day owner Bob Felland opened the doors to his campus copy shop for business. I have worked here for nearly half of those years and marvel at how the technology and tools have changed over time. But one thing that hasn’t changed in all that time is the outstanding company culture and the focus on doing right by our customers. That trait was on display on day one and it will continue to be a central part of Omnipress for the next 40 years, as well.

Leading a company with a philosophy of doing right by customers, and the employees to make that happen… Now that truly is something to be thankful for!

Introducing CATALYST | Video

Over the last few weeks, we’ve written quite a bit on this blog about CATALYST, our new abstract management system. Today is your chance to finally see why we are so excited about it!

Designed for meeting planners, by meeting planners.

CATALYST is such an exciting announcement for us to share with the meeting planner community because they have played such an important role in designing it.

We’ve been helping associations bring remarkable content to their conferences over the past 40 years. During this time, we’ve learned what they need in a collection system to be successful. We’ve also seen how their submitters use it (or don’t use it…until the last minute!). These insights began shaping CATALYST long before the first line of code was ever written. It truly is designed to help meeting planners collect the educational content for their conferences because their experiences designed it.

The excitement is contagious!

We’ve also seen a lot of excitement from meeting planners themselves as they experience a demo of CATALYST for the first time. Their excitement comes when they that see a time-consuming, manual task they dread doing every year now can be automated. What was once “that’s just the way it is,” suddenly becomes “that’s not the way is has to be.”

Or maybe their excitement comes when they see that the new interface and forms are much more intuitive than in their old system. That means that they will be spending less time on answering support questions from confused submitters. Even simple things like having individual log-ins and automated password resets have a tendency to bring out an “Oh, that’s great!” response from veteran planners.

See for yourself.

The video above is just the beginning of how CATALYST can help you bring high-quality educational content to your conference. Drop us a line and we’d be happy to talk with you about how CATALYST could improve your specific process. We can also schedule a time to walk you through all that the system is capable of.

When you think about it, other than the manual, repetitive tasks you dread doing, what do you have to lose?

Omnipresence: It’s Time to Reveal Our Big Announcement!

Omnipress is launching CATALYST, our new abstract management system!

Abstract management is not a new offering from Omnipress. We’ve been collecting abstracts online for 15 years (so about as long as it’s been possible to do). But CATALYST is unlike anything we’ve offered in the past. We’ve worked hard to make sure we weren’t just creating a great tool, but that we were creating a system tailor-made for conference content.

Our experience working with associations shaped the system

Every year we help hundreds of associations collect and review the program content for their conferences. In fact, our project managers open and close more abstract management sites in a single year than your typical meeting planner will do in her lifetime! This experience is at the heart of what makes CATALYST such a unique system.

CATALYST was designed with you in mind

A team that knows the ins-and-outs of the abstract management process (not just the ins-and-outs of computer programming) designed CATALYST. Why is this important? Because CATALYST isn’t a collection of “sounds great on paper” features put together by an IT department. If you ask the CATALYST design team why a certain feature of CATALYST behaves the way it does, the answer will undoubtedly include real-life examples of when this method was—or was not—followed and what the results were. (But let me warn you: if you do ask this question, do not expect a short answer. They are a passionate bunch when it comes to this system!)

Best practices are on by default

We created CATALYST specifically for associations collecting abstracts and papers. This means your call for papers isn’t going to be shoehorned into a workflow that was designed for another task. But we also know that everyone has different requirements for their conference. So with CATALYST, you have the ability to make adjustments to the workflow to suit your needs.

A system that answers “What’s next?” for users

Any good abstract management system needs to be usable by submitters with a range of computer skills. That’s why creating an intuitive interface was a top priority. In addition to a clean, modern design, a lot of effort went into creating a logical process with clear guidance on what the user needs to do next. And when the inevitable technical question does come up, we have built in options that let us quickly provide the answer without involving the meeting planner.

We’re thinking of your end goals from the beginning

One thing I’ve heard from our customers over the years is how difficult it can be to move information out of a competitor’s system for print, or to upload to a website. It’s like the vendor never really thought about what they were going to do with the info you spent so much effort to collect.

As a company that has been delivering content to conferences for 40 years, this always baffles me. What’s the good of collecting information if you don’t have a plan for delivering it?

We think this is so important, one of the first questions your project manager will ask you will be about how you plan to use this information at your conference. That’s because the data you need to collect for a mobile app can be different than a printed program book.

Withholding features doesn’t match our philosophy

The way we look at it, all our customers should have access to the same tools for their conference. That means you won’t find a tiered pricing plan with CATALYST and you won’t have to pay an extra fee to receive updates. There is only one version of CATALYST, and if you choose to work with us for your conference’s abstract management, you’ll be using it.

More to come

Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be releasing much more information about the system. This site will be a great resource for learning more about CATALYST and how to see it for yourself. I am really excited to see this project launch and can’t wait to hear feedback from our customers about their experiences!