Do you feel your events are not boosting brand awareness or driving lead generation?
Mudit Singhania and Vidyut Singhania, founders of Babel, want to improve the event attendee experience, engagement and conversations with the help of data. Their Hyper-Personalized Engagement platform (ISDA AI) which was deployed at the SWITCH 2020 virtual event, aims to empower the global events industry.
Babel, a Singapore-headquartered company, specializes in helping organizations boost their stakeholder engagements, sales and performance across their digital, as well as physical channels. It leverages the latest cutting edge technologies to provide diverse industries with the power of real-time data-driven decision making.
Mudit and Vidyut, CEO and COO of Babel respectively, refined and tweaked the AI, which won the IMDA’s Open Innovation Challenge and released it as an Events Analytics Package in conjunction with IMDA Singapore, GlobalSign.in (the parent company of GEVME) and SACEOS. Lourdes Soares, Content Marketing Manager from GEVME sat down with Mudit and Vidyut to know more about Babel and how it hopes to revolutionize the event space.
Lourdes Soares: Can you tell us about Babel and what problem does it solve?
Mudit Singhania: We want to empower the global events industry with the power of data and analytics. We previously attended various events like SWITCH and SFF (Singapore Fintech Festival) and noticed over the span of many years, that event organizers and exhibitors came to an event but were unable to express their exact intention neither were they able to engage with or identify their target audience. That’s where we came up with the idea of the prototype.
We decided to partner with GlobalSign.in as it was able to capture data from SWITCH 2020 and SFF (Singapore Fintech Festival) attendees, exhibitors and speakers. Using this data, Babel created an Events Analytics Package prototype to help event organizers and exhibitors get actionable insights.
Lourdes Soares: Why did you apply to the IMDA Open Innovation Challenge? What made you choose the events industry?
Mudit Singhania: We are an organization that solves data related pain points. We are industry agnostic and use artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve problems.
We applied for the Open Innovation Challenge because it offered us a unique challenge. We had applied for the IMDA Challenge pre-Covid when fewer virtual and hybrid events were taking place. We wanted to help companies shift to the virtual space. Due to Covid, now the event industry is facing a challenge and Babel can help this industry understand and engage their audience with the help of data.
Even if an immense amount of data is captured, through artificial intelligence, Babel can demystify the data to understand the digital trail of an individual. Organizers and exhibitors can then make use of this data to enhance the consumer experience through personalized recommendations.
Caption: Babel’s Event AI Package developed for SWITCH 2020
Lourdes Soares: Can you tell us more about working collaboratively with GlobalSign.in (GSI)?
Vidyut Singhania: We wanted to see how data could improve consumer experience and engagement. Could we take the event industry to the next level? Could we help exhibitors connect with others in a virtual space? These are the challenges we wanted to solve.
GlobalSign.in helped provide critical insights about the event space, they helped us understand event stakeholder behaviour that could be captured during events. GEVME specifically was a partner that helped us understand the consumer journey and use the data we had effectively. The company is an established virtual event platform that leveraged its decade of experience developing event technology to empower event professionals in the new paradigm. GEVME was aware of the problems faced by seasoned event organizers and agencies as it understands the event space very well.
For instance, if we wanted to enter the e-commerce space, Flipkart and Amazon are the two companies that would come to mind. But if we had a choice between the two, we would choose Amazon because it understands the consumer journey better and was able to leverage its knowledge and command of the industry to dominate the space globally. Similarly, GlobalSign.in is a partner that understands the consumer journey in the event space. Therefore, the partnership was critical for our success.
Lourdes Soares: Tell us more about what you developed for the events industry? Especially the ISDA AI Platform?
Mudit Singhania:: We developed a way to provide customised recommendations. Instead of wasting time going to multiple events, we helped match attendees to events that would appeal to them. By curating the attendee journey, the person who entered the virtual interface got a personalized schedule and recommended sessions that would fit their area of interest.
We created a separate screen where recommendations were shared on a dynamic basis. Every 10-15 minutes, a new set of recommendations was sent, to each and every individual. Later we brought it down to 60 seconds. Recommendations depended on consumer behaviour patterns and clicks. So their likes and preferences helped them meet the right kind of people.
Vidyut Singhania: We already have a proprietary engine built for industries like insurance, retail etc. So the question was, how do we customize it for a completely different space? We wanted to focus not only on the customer profile but also what differentiates the customer from others in the same demographic.
Our AI platform automatically understands your psychographic profile and then gives you recommendations. It also tracks signals that you give out implicitly. The system tries to understand the relationship between the customer’s choice and the events they are registering for. It also tries to understand the underlying patterns amongst the people who are engaging with the sessions and the companies.
Lourdes Soares: How do you manage to cater to all the stakeholders?
Vidyut Singhania:: Simply understanding ‘Who?’ is the target audience, is important.
We have to keep the entire value chain in mind when we are rolling out our Events Analytics Package, so we can cater to all stakeholders.
It starts with the event organizer, then the event exhibitors and sponsors, then event attendees. We have kept all these stakeholders in mind when creating our product. We’re aware that all stakeholders involved should gain value from our product so that incorporating our product becomes an integral part of their strategy. We give customised recommendations to the attendee so that the organizers and exhibitors are able to engage the audience better as well as gain insight into their target audience.
Lourdes Soares: It’s interesting that some components have been kept open source, what is the intent behind this?
Vidyut Singhania:: It was a joint decision by GlobalSign.in and Babel. Mainly because we are looking at the future and there’s no future if you don’t collaborate with the community. We want to uplift everyone.
We didn’t want financial gain to be our primary objective, we wanted to foster a spirit of collaboration while protecting our core IP. When discussing our prototype, the concepts of AI, machine learning and so forth came up. We noticed that event organizers believed that an engaged audience, specifically engaging a segment from the audience and understanding their demographic profile, was a critical benchmark for a successful event. After discussion, we realized that we could open source various components, but this was a key component that would appeal to and help the majority.
We decided to open source one of our key customer segmentation aspects, based on a concept called RFM, or the Recency, Frequency, Monetary. This advanced segmentation approach enables exhibitors and organizers to understand the underlying patterns behind consumer behaviour.
Lourdes Soares: How can your technology be leveraged by sponsors and exhibitors to meet business objectives?
Mudit Singhania: Sponsors and exhibitors expect an ROI on their time, money and effort.
They expect a good return on investment, i.e. getting leads that convert. But do the leads that they get from conventional events, convert?
Vidyut Singhania: Yes, we wanted to help improve ROI. So we asked the organizers, WHAT is their target, HOW do they attribute ROI and HOW do they plan to sell their product to key stakeholders.
We want to know what the final trigger point is, which is the tipping point that makes the consumer buy the product. Because all virtual events, at the end of the day, are simply a way to generate leads.
For example, Salesforce has a very strong base of customers and its own CRM. But are they able to get leads to come to their events? What value can Salesforce offer a lead that is already aware of its services? First, Salesforce would focus on ensuring leads attend their event. Second, sharing information that appeals to the lead, then after the event, what would they do? They would email and follow up, won’t they? It is this follow up process that helps them convert leads to customers. So these are the concepts that help improve ROI. Only by going beyond the event can you convert leads.
As the event is only one part of the process, Babel helps gather data and information on the customer and helps you improve your ROI by going above and beyond what is happening inside the event.
Lourdes Soares: Event professionals may not have deep scientific knowledge and may not understand your technology. What are the complexities involved in using this technology?
Vidyut Singhania: Our technology focuses on usability. In our current product line, our UI UX is focusing on simplicity and ease of use. We don’t want the consumer to face any issues. We constantly ask ourselves, “How can we make it easier for an event organizer to use our product?”.
We’ve been attending design thinking workshops to understand how we can appeal to the consumer. We want them to want the product, instead of constantly selling the product to them. That’s our main focus. Additionally, we believe consumers should be able to get what they want with the click of a button. Making the technology accessible is our job. That’s our aim.
Lourdes Soares: How do you price your product? What is your revenue model?
Mudit Singhania: Our revenue model is hybrid in nature. There’s an integration cost along with a SaaS model. The pricing would depend on the API calls or the number of recommendations that are provided.
Lourdes Soares: What are your future plans for Babel’s ISDA AI? Especially for the events industry?
Vidyut Singhania: Interesting question, we’d love to share our plans, but the only thing we know for sure is that we will be looking towards the future.
First of all, we hope to continue our partnership with GlobalSign.in. We were able to enter and make an impact in the market despite being complete novices due to our current partnership with GlobalSign.in.
Second, we plan to standardize this particular AI package. At SWITCH 2020, we managed to validate our concept and we feel we have only seen 15% of its capabilities. We’ve built the core, now we plan to scale. But for now, we would ask everyone to please keep an eye out. Exciting things are coming!