The Main Event

How technology is making Oracle OpenWorld greener—and more fun

November 2011

Each year, Oracle hosts 8,000 events around the globe, and Oracle Vice President of Marketing Paul Salinger (@psalinger) plays a big role in making them successful—and sustainable. Green practices at 2010’s Oracle OpenWorld diverted 140 tons of waste from landfill, and at press time, Salinger had big plans for this year’s conference, held in San Francisco October 2-6.

“We will continue sourcing things locally and reducing our impact on transportation,” he said. “Instead of printing a 400-page conference guide, we are rolling out a very robust mobile app so attendees can access that information on their smartphone or computer.”

Here, Salinger answers questions submitted by Profit readers via Twitter about Oracle OpenWorld. Find out how technology makes Oracle OpenWorld more personal—and how you can help the conference grow even greener in years to come.

@MyersSan: What can attendees and exhibitors do to make Oracle OpenWorld more sustainable?

SALINGER: First, they can use the virtual collateral rack, the mobile app, and the Website to help reduce paper output. And they can pay attention to our recycling setup and make sure they’re putting whatever waste they do have in the proper containers, so that we can really manage our waste diversion.

One of the main things attendees and partners can do is offset the carbon they’re creating with their travel. This year, for the first time, we actually have a voluntary program that provides them with an opportunity to purchase a carbon offset during the registration process.

@s_mckinley: How can corporations move from greening one large event like Oracle OpenWorld to greening all events globally?

SALINGER: Two years ago we took best practices from Oracle OpenWorld and created a program across all 8,000 global Oracle events. We established global green teams in each region to pilot projects during the last fiscal year. That taught us what works in different regions, what the infrastructure will support, and what people feel like they can consistently do.

From there, we created minimum guidelines for everybody doing events around the world, including our corporate team here at headquarters. And we’ve created a very simple dashboard for reporting against those guidelines. It literally takes five minutes to fill out.

With these tools and a lot of resource material available on demand, we want to educate our field and event marketing people about how to integrate sustainability into their event planning process.

We’re also having very active conversations with Oracle procurement about sustainability policy, making sure our suppliers have policies in place. Procurement can help suppliers, such as our preferred hotels, work toward our minimum guidelines and devise very simple ways to report back data. That way we can start understanding the impacts we’re having across our events, from cost savings that contribute to Oracle’s bottom line as well as environmental benefits.

@OracleProfit: How is technology connecting attendees in new ways?

SALINGER: We’re doing a lot with Quick Response (QR) codes—everything from information scavenger hunts to driving people to content or locations. Also, we’re finding new ways to engage the audience when they’re in the keynote hall. Rather than playing a generic video no one pays attention to, we might give them the opportunity to tweet or—through a QR code—send us messages relevant to the topics in that keynote.

Also, we’ve transformed some of the old OpenWorld Connection Centers into Social Avenues intended to promote the explosion of social media as a communication vehicle and give people a place to catch up on their social networking. People connected through channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn can schedule live meet-ups to connect with their friends and associates.

We want to ensure “social” is not just what people do on their smartphone and computers. It’s also about attendee engagement and building conversations.

Thanks to @s_mckinley (Shawna McKinley) and @MyersSan (Sandy Myers) for submitting questions to Paul Salinger through Twitter.

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