Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Buying vs. renting an Audience Response System

buy versus rent

Question:

We are considering purchasing equipment and running it ourselves any advice?


Answer:

Now that ARS equipment is inexpensive to own, or rent and relatively simple to run, purchasing equipment has become a very popular cost effective solution for education and training.


Purchasing makes sense on a cost analysis basis and works very well for most systems owners. It is a mistake for others. This is because the new paradigm of equipment ownership and self-operation has created a disconnect between the end user and the professionals. Interactive events formerly run by professional ARS service providers, consultants and moderators now merely contain ARS as another available piece of available audio visual equipment.

There are several factors to consider when purchasing an audience response system. Some are obvious and some are rarely considered. If the system has a single purpose such as education, training, meetings, or HR and there are personnel and programs in place, then the decision to purchase is simplified. Advance knowledge of the purpose and functionality required is helpful. Once that is known the cost and return on investment are simpler to deal with. (By the way, ROI is greatly increased by using the technology for company wide solutions rather than a single use, which is one of the reasons for starting this blog and QT Consulting.)

Here are a few tips prior to purchase:

  • Speak to someone who is currently using their technology. Ask the manufacturer for another customer to speak to that is using the technology for a similar purpose.
  • Ask what kind of training is offered after purchase? Do they offer training classes, online training by phone and WebEx?
  • Prior to making a purchase, ask for access to their customer support center. Call them and evaluate their responsiveness, knowledge and service.
  • If the purchase is a substantial investment, consider a real test of the system. Pay the company to provide a turnkey rental (equipment and an operator) for your first use of the system. This serves four important functions: firsthand evaluation of the system, valuable hands-on training experience for your own operator, it provides a keen observer with tips and tricks into how professionals operate, and it insures that the first use of the technology will be seamless.
  • While doing your due diligence in the purchase process, note the overall commitment the company has to service. Note the attitude and the empowerment of the salesperson to offer assistance and the responsiveness and knowledge of the support staff.

After purchase tips:

  • In addition to understanding the best practices for your interactive events, it is necessary to set up the right conditions for best use of the technology. For reasons that may not be very apparent, picking the right systems operator and the person responsible for the event content is very important.
  • Just as many people at meetings and seminars attend to be seen and impress their piers and boss, working toward a promotion, the person running the technology or the interactive program is no different. If the designated ARS person is fearful of actively encouraging use of the system, it may not get used.
  • Under use could be due to lack of knowledge about the interactive process, or running the technology, or not wanting the additional work load, or fear of being seen as incompetent. Some of the skills we look for when we hire professional ARS operators are technical skills, literacy (including spelling) and being comfortable in public situations. We have found that musicians and people with experience in front of audiences make better operators.
  • Success may also depend upon the rank of the moderator, or the person planning the program and its content. Sometimes it takes a person with enough power to get the rest of the team to do their work.
  • Remember that ownership of the equipment does not preclude bring in experts to provide content and design or run events using your equipment.

With over 30 years of experience in helping clients achieve their meetings goals. I am passionate about the power of insight. If I can help your firm discover this power, please contact me.

Alan Warshaw
President
Quick Tally® Interactive Systems, Inc.
Direct Dial: 310.306.4930


About Me

After graduating from New York University with a degree in Communications, Alan attended the New School for Social Research, Graduate School at N.Y.U. and the Master’s Program in Cinema at U.C.L.A. Following his service in the U.S. Army, Alan was employed by Doyle, Dane and Burnbach Advertising Agency. He worked in the U.S. and Europe in the feature motion picture production business. He was employed by Quick Tally Interactive Systems for one year prior to acquiring the company. He has owned and run the company for almost three decades and has pioneered in the manufacturing of ARS equipment and providing interactive event services. In addition to US State and Federal Government Agencies, America's leading companies, associations and television networks, he has also worked for events clients in the EU, New Zealand, Hong Kong Thailand and Dubai.