“There are certain products that we all kind of gravitate to, that we love. And Slack has the magic that simply draws people in.”
When you’re hosting large conferences and corporate events, the stakes are high. When you’re the backbone of those events, they’re even higher. Cvent, the industry-leading meetings, events and hospitality technology provider, takes this responsibility seriously. So seriously that 80% of Fortune 100 companies, along with more than 27,000 other global organisations, rely on Cvent’s software to plan, market and execute their events.
That success has ushered in an era of rapid expansion. Cvent, which is headquartered in Tysons, Virginia, has grown to over 4,300 employees across 22 global offices, with much of that growth occurring in the past five years. Of course, growth brings new challenges. When Cvent’s CIO Pradeep Mannakkara came aboard in 2016, he was committed to simplifying and optimising the way the company operated internally.
“We asked ourselves, ‘How do modern companies really thrive in this environment? How can our employees be more productive, more satisfied, more engaged with our technology and the culture that it brings?’” Mannakkara says. His answer? Slack.
At the time, Cvent was using a combination of different tools that varied from department to department. The company initially experimented with several different collaboration tools, including those that came bundled with other software but “the adoption just wasn’t there”, the CIO says.
Employees were clamouring for a common, company-wide platform. In fact, many had seen that the company’s tech teams were using Slack and now they were asking for it by name. “After we made the decision to roll Slack out across the company, we assumed it would take months to see active usage across the board,” Mannakkara says. “Instead, we spiked to over 90% adoption within the first few weeks.” What’s more, people liked using Slack. In a recent NPS survey, which measures user satisfaction, employees gave Slack a score of 65 (the average for software and apps is around 30; scores above 50 are considered excellent).
Cvent’s rapid growth has included a string of acquisitions, such as Social Tables and Wedding Spot. To bring new companies seamlessly into the fold, Cvent relies on Slack’s shared channels, which connect two independent organisations in the same virtual workspace. With shared channels, Cvent has opened new pathways for collaboration, even as the company scales up.
Today, the company’s employees send over 250,000 Slack messages a day, allowing them to connect and collaborate like never before. “There are certain products that we all kind of gravitate to, that we love,” Mannakkara says. “And Slack has the magic that simply draws people in.”
As Cvent’s product offerings have proliferated, the company’s engineers have had to accelerate their release schedule, from quarterly releases at first, to monthly and then to weekly. To support the scale and speed of these deployments, they needed a new tool. With Slack, Cvent’s engineers have streamlined the deployment process and now push new releases out faster, while also keeping other teams, such as customer success and marketing, in the loop.
To aid in this process, Cvent’s site reliability engineers developed Release Bot, an integration that allows developers to launch new releases from within Slack. The bot ensures that each new iteration follows Cvent’s best practices and keeps other stakeholders informed via Slack channels, virtual spaces where colleagues can share updates, digital tools and files. “Release Bot allows us, in real time, to make sure teams across time zones and offices are communicating correctly and aren’t doing anything that’s going to impact our customers in a negative way,” says Cvent CTO and Co-founder David Quattrone.
With Release Bot, the engineering team at Cvent has doubled its release volume over the past year. Today, the team releases hundreds of times every month, multiple times a day. “The ability to deploy new releases without manual intervention, with software tools deploying new software, has really been a game changer for us,” Quattrone says.
“My team members can now work with each other regardless of where they are. They can easily access Slack on their mobile devices, whether they’re on the go or at home. When situations come up, they can seamlessly connect with colleagues to troubleshoot them.”
Yet, despite a top-notch platform, deep events expertise and months of planning, getting everyone aligned proved problematic. Case in point: Event coordination on the day for Cvent CONNECT required Andrews to juggle communication between seven different platforms, ranging from WhatsApp to phone calls to radio headsets. “We went from multiple forms of communication to one: Slack. Not having to use a headset at an event with over 5,000 people was a complete game changer,” she says.
With Cvent’s growing sales organisation sprawled across 13 time zones and multiple countries globally, maintaining effective, consistent communication, both within the department and with other teams, became a critical concern. “Before Slack we had to rely completely on email for team communication,” says Franci Hirsch, VP of Sales Development at Cvent. “And that’s difficult when you’re dealing with many time zones and many different people. Email inboxes get flooded.”
Once the company adopted Slack, she noticed a dramatic shift. “Slack allowed us to bridge gaps and get communication flowing across a large and expanding organisation,” she says. “It aligns stakeholders to make sure that we’re communicating to our customers accurately and efficiently.”
Hirsch and her sales colleagues rely on Slack channels for most of their operations, including:
Perhaps most importantly, Slack democratises information, allowing the sales team to move quickly and close deals faster. “With Slack, we encourage everybody to go straight to the right channels to get their questions answered,” Hirsch says. “Instead of having to wait for emails that might take a long time, we can now access all the information that we need right away.”
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