Global Events Strategist Katie Sacco leans on tech tools and peers in times ripe for transformation.

When the pandemic hit and leveled the in-person eventscape, Global Events Strategist Katie Sacco was more prepared than most. She’d been organizing virtual gatherings for years.

Sacco was instrumental in the launch of Dell World: Live Online: one of the industry’s first major forays into hybrid programming in 2012. Sacco joined Dell after the software company she worked for was acquired by the tech giant, which had previously and exclusively sold hardware. Internally, Sacco acted as a guide for new colleagues.

“We had to establish a lot of procedures that weren’t in place at a company of 100,000 people,” she explains.

To give a sense of where the company was when she joined, she recalls a colleague asking how large of a box she would need for invitations.

It’s fair to say that Sacco operates ahead of the curve: a trait that makes her an exceptionally resilient event marketer in the tech space.

“When the world shut down, every business realized that their [tech] tools would be what would get them through,” she says.

While others in the industry scrambled to learn the ins and outs of Zoom, Sacco was coaching her team at Splunk on the finer points of remote presentation: closed captions, accessibility options, engagement tactics, and the like.

Sacco’s response ensured that technical difficulties posed no barriers to audiences. She focused her energy on equipping speakers with the tools they needed to present successfully and the content that would resonate with audiences stuck at home.

Yet even for Sacco, there was a learning curve. For instance: she was quick to learn that – less is more.

“You’re not recording an hour-long session of anything anymore,” she says. The idea holds weight for in-person events, too. “It will be hard to go back to big general sessions that take two hours.”

Meanwhile, the widespread adoption of technology has compelled Sacco to learn how to use it more effectively.

“There are tools that will make your event that much better. But there’s a lot of nuance to it,” she says.

For instance, standard platforms now offer AI-generated .srt files, but the raw results are often far from perfect. Even the best technologies need human oversight.

And so does data. Sacco is a vocal advocate for working with analysts to interpret numbers from software like Vivastream and Snowflake.

“I believe being able to tell the story with the data is the secret sauce for measurement.”

Crucially, Sacco consults analysts in the planning, production, and post–phases of events.

“If I don’t ask the right questions upfront when I go to measure and report…I won’t have the information that I need.”

As for planning, strategists can provide recommendations on UX best practices. They’re also a source for content ideas based on their knowledge of registrants.

“What’s important is that it’s a partnership,” she emphasizes.

Sacco believes that close, interdepartmental relationships are key, especially when it comes to budget and the unpredictability of factors like supply chain management and digital privacy laws. Outside of the companies she’s worked for, she’s also forged connections with fellow event professionals through networking groups like Community Factory and Event Content Council.

“I think especially in events, folks are sharing information and being more transparent,” she notes as a silver lining. “Back before the pandemic, it was a little more competitive.”

Tech tools are crucial for survival in the new eventscape. But as Sacco’s work demonstrates, interpersonal relationships are just as important for paving a smooth road to innovation.

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