I'm sure you've heard the advertising slogan "Work the Web." And I'll bet you've also heard consultants and others wearing out the phrase, "Web-enabling your business." Just in case you're wondering how to put these elusive ideas into practice, let's look at an organization that integrates its operational procedures with its marketing through creative use of the Web.
The International Oracle Users Group-Americas (IOUG-A) is an independent, nonprofit association of computer industry professionals who use Oracle Corp. products. IOUG-A held its annual conference, IOUG-A Live! 99 (www.ioug.org/live99/), in mid-April. As is typical, the event spanned four days and featured around 250 educational sessions.
Like other educationally oriented meetings of its scope, IOUG-A has standard procedures for planning, promoting, and delivering its conference. The interesting twist is that it now implements those procedures using integrated speaker- and session-management software called Event Wizard, which revolves around a fully Web-enabled and integrated database (built on Oracle technology, of course).
Abstract Concepts The process starts with potential speakers submitting abstracts for consideration using a comprehensive Web form that allows information to be sent directly to the system database without IOUG-A staff having to perform any data entry. Once submitted, this information is used throughout the rest of the event-planning process.
With the abstract information residing in a Web-enabled database, the grading and selection process can be handled over the Internet without having to send printed materials to the selection committee. And because all potential speakers are in the database, all communications, such as acceptance or rejection letters, reminder notices, audiovisual requirements, and waiver forms, can be handled directly from the system and automatically placed in an activity log. For those speakers who have e-mail addresses (which includes nearly everyone in the IOUG-A universe), the correspondence is handled through system-generated, personalized e-mail. For example, a planner can do a quick search of every confirmed speaker who has not yet returned an audiovisual requirements form, then generate individually addressed and customized e-mail messages. No paper, postage, or phone calls are involved.
Register Now, Download Later Once speakers and sessions are confirmed and the time arrives to publish the information on the conference Web site, IOUG-A's system allows planners simply to throw a switch to display all the database information on the Web. And because the information resides in the database, it can be searched in many ways. For example, visitors can search for sessions by name or number, speaker's name or company affiliation, date and time, or other criteria (without help from the meeting planner or Webmaster). And, of course, the system allows visitors to register for the conference and create a personal, private itinerary, complete with private logon and password.
After the conference, the PowerPoint presentations and discussion papers from the meeting are linked to the session records in the database and displayed on the Web for attendees to download. Because IOUG-A's system is built around a central database, it is able to restrict downloads to those who actually attended the conference, creating residual added value to paid attendees.
Of course, the IOUG-A site is more complex and feature-rich than I have space to recount here. Visit for yourself and see how IOUG-A truly understands how to "Work the Web."