Online event software – What is it and how does it work?
Before I dive into describing what online event software is, let me first talk about this animal called "online software" and what that really means. When people think of software, they usually envision a product they buy in a box at a computer, electronics or department store (think Best Buy, Target and the like), which they then take home and then use a CD-ROM or DVD to install the software on their computer. Every once in a while, the program prompts them to download or install updates, and sometimes the program will even alert them to a new version that will require them to spend more money (think Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, etc.). In the last decade, it's become common to buy software online directly from the manufacturer, so there's no need for packaging or a CD-ROM/DVD. Just put the software in your shopping cart, pay for it and you are directed to a page (or you are emailed a link) where you can click on a button and download the software directly to your computer via the Internet. Once it's downloaded, you simply open up the installer and, presto, the software is on your computer. But in the last few years, online software has become more and more popular, but there's still lots of confusion as to what it actually is, what it does and where it exists. So here goes with an explanation to all this... Online software is also commonly called software as a service (SaaS), which is probably a better and more apt description of it. Essentially, instead of loading software onto your local computer, the software is permanently housed on the manufacturer's computer (usually it's stored on a server, which is essentially a big computer with lots of memory and firewall protection to keep the Internet thugs out). To access the software, you simply open up your Web browser (think Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.), go to the manufacturer's Web site, log into your account, and, presto, you have access to the software. Some online software is free (like Planning Pod) and other software is not so free (like Apple's MobileMe, Zoho, Quickbooks Online, etc.). You could even argue that a site like Facebook is free online software because, once you log into your account, you have access to all sorts of tools that function like software. So where does online event software fall? Well, here at Planning Pod, we are very much like the paragraph above. You register on our site to create your account, and once you have done this, you can go to our site via a Web browser, log into your account and start using our software (which exists on our secure servers). That's pretty straightforward. But here's where people often ask "But where is all my information stored?" which is a very good question. When you enter details into your account (like the measurements of your wedding dress or your tuxedo) this information is stored in a database (sort of like a big Excel spreadsheet with many, many fields for storing each piece of data) which also resides on our server. At Planning Pod, our software code and our database both sit on a secures server with lots of security and firewalls and lots of backup to make sure no data is lost or stolen. And every detail you save on your account is completely confidential, so you never, ever have to worry about us contacting people on your guest list (and if you want to access your information, you can always download all of it into Excel spreadsheets). In our humble opinions (and we have many of them), online event software like ours takes the headache out of managing your event details, first of all because you never have to manage event software on your computer, and second because all your details are stored safely on our server and you never have to worry about losing data due to your computer crashing or to theft, fire or accidental deletion. Plus, we built our event software so it's very easy to use and requires really no learning time ... just log in and go. So hopefully that helps give some background on just what online event software is and how it works. But if you want more info, don't hesitate to drop us a note by using the contact form on the site.