How digital identity is powering the future of venues

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Venues new and old are adapting to the brave new world of digitalisation, which has been accelerated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether it’s an existing indoor arena or a national stadium still at planning stage, the development of a digital identity has to be one of the most important considerations as it impacts everything from marketing to data, ticketing to transport.

EngageRM is one of the venues and events ecosystem’s leading providers of digital and customer engagement services. Here, Tim Barber, EngageRM’s Global Commercial Director, discusses the power of digital identity and how it can ensure a venue’s success…

How important is digital identity for current and future venues?

Tim Barber: Digital identity delivers several benefits including security of personal data, removal of the need for complex integrations and an enhanced frictionless, personalised user experience both in and out of the event.

Issuing attendees with an identity enables the ability to manage tickets, incentivise the use of green routes to the venue and provide offers including STM upgrades or in-event activations because we know who the person is are all now achievable. The ability to accumulate touchpoints related to a single person enables personalised next actions.

How is EngageRM’s partnership with Microsoft supporting these efforts?

TB: EngageRM has been working with Microsoft regarding decentralised identity and other organisations related to these evolving Web3 technologies including blockchain and NFTs. Today we use our digital identity at work, at home, and across every app, service, and device we use. It’s made up of everything we say, do, and experience in our lives—purchasing tickets for an event, F&B in-event, or merchandise.

Currently, our identity and all our digital interactions are owned and controlled by other parties, some of whom we aren’t even aware of. Working with Microsoft we believe a standards-based Decentralized Identity system can unlock a new set of experiences that give users and organisations greater control over their data—and deliver a higher degree of trust and security for apps, devices, and venues.

How is EngageRM working with venues to improve their digital identity?

TB: EngageRM has been designing the platforms mobile app over the last 24-months with digital identity at the forefront of the design. The ability to interact at the venue whether you’re a general attendee, season ticket member, premium seat / suite holder, or participant we’re looking to deliver a frictionless experience. This enhanced mobile experience will cover everything from wayfinding, tickets, F&B, activations, auctions… through to loyalty and incentivised interactions with social platforms.

For new venues, such as Co-op Live for example, is it easier to build a digital identity than it is for more established venues?

TB: Thought leadership regarding enhanced customer journeys is paramount whether you’re a new or established venue. Technology is provided to enable process and EngageRM sees this as a most important component of our deep vertical knowledge in sports, venues and entertainment.

Evolving with technology to ensure the most seamless customer experience means taking advantage of tried, tested and supported solutions and digital identity is at the forefront of all interaction.

In what specific ways can a venue improve its digital identity?

TB: An obstacle to delivering a successful digital identity program is existing data duplication which means the first and most important task is to clean data, a single view of a person is critical to gaining trust. Once the single view of a person is established communications regarding the approach to data security and the importance of your clients information extends on that trust prior to the in-event experience. Delivering expected event customer experience journeys with clearly defined outcomes can now be achieved.  

How much has the pandemic changed eventgoers’ habits? Have you witnessed a greater appetite for digital events as opposed to in-person experiences?

TB: The answer here is both! One of the benefits of the pandemic that has lasted is the choice to either attend events in person or interact with them digitally. Sports streaming for example, has skyrocketed across the globe, and organisations such as the NBA have utilised spaces like the Metaverse to engage with fans from any device, any time, and anywhere.

How much do you think NFTs and the metaverse will play a part in the live events sector in the coming years?

TB: At EngageRM we’re mindful that NFTs should not be put forward to participants as a digital asset that will appreciate in value. This could be true but as we’ve seen it can also be completely untrue.

We see this new form of digital asset being used to store entitlements e.g. incentivised interaction where a person consumes content and shares that content to social platforms providing a Trophy (NFT) as part of the loyalty program. While we feel the Metaverse has a way to go before it is mainstream, we see the ability for people to interact on any device and in a digital world as a positive in several ways e.g., we can provide a locker room providing virtual experiences related to events, partnership assets will be extended to additional revenue streams and more.

More generally, how prepared do you feel the sector is to embrace these new technologies?

TB: EngageRM has been leveraging technology to enable processes across the sector globally for 15 years and we have continually evolved as new technology has been successfully introduced. Microsoft has always been at the cutting edge, and we leverage their technology stack to empower our clients and because we understand the environment and the technology we feel we’re well prepared to work with all organisations looking to digital transformation and enhancing customer experience.

What trends most interest you as we head into 2023?

TB: This is an exciting period in time regarding customer experience across sports, venues and entertainment. The in-event experience extends to global interaction where people can be incentivised to interact and influence the brand in ways never available before. This also introduces new revenue streams regarding partnerships and asset analytics across digital platforms ensures partners have visibility of the benefits and RoI.

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