Natalie de Chalus is the founder and CEO of Colloquium, a company with a European dimension, based in Paris and Brussels. Over 25 years ago, Natalie identified a niche market — creating and organizing powerful events for European and international professional associations. Colloquium was created in 2000 with the merging of two historic companies of the French market.
Colloquium organizes professional congresses for groups ranging from 500 to 15,000 participants and is now also extending to virtual event organization. IT is core to Colloquium's business and this is what Natalie is explaining today:


 

Q: What are a few trends in your industry you see as innovative and/or impactful for your clients?

A: Our job is to organize both 'physical' and 'virtual' professional congresses. This business sector is moving fast, partly thanks to technology, and this is why we need to be constantly evolving and imagining new tools to remain up to date. To do that, to bring together professional associations — which are communities themselves — we are now using and adapting social media. For instance, when international flights were suspended due to the Icelandic volcano ash cloud, we were able to continue our activity by making virtual participation to our congresses possible.
With the evolution of society, we are now also managing online communities, before, during and after our congresses.
This is deeply and significantly reshaping our core activity and I believe this will eventually lead to inventing a new business model.



Q:
What is your top business challenge this year?

A: Technology plays a fundamental role in our business for two main reasons. First, technology is a tool that allows our business to improve. Second, with the evolution of the Internet and the social media, people can now connect and discuss together on any given topic. Technology is helping in developing our business model and directly encourages us to imagine new services, new ways for our clients to communicate and to participate in events.
Our current challenge is to develop one single tool, which we will be able to use in our business, and that will support us in our growth strategy.



Q:
How is technology (specifically Dell and Intel) helping you find a solution?

A: Of course, technology is a means to improve in our business, but the technology revolution is also what drives our business forward and encourages us to be creative. To us at Colloquium, technology should meet three criteria: adaptability, reliability and reactivity.
1. Adaptability: We organize customized events for our clients and when advising them, we need to adapt to their requirements. Therefore, we seek solutions that will guarantee  that we meet their needs.
2. Reliability: On top of providing customized events, we pay attention to every single detail. A quick fact — for a total of 70 events that we organize, 30,000 transactions are generated. This means the tools we use have to be reliable and secure.
3. Reactivity: This is really a key criteria. On the day an event starts, everything has to be running smoothly. The attendance of each participant is important — from their arrival to their whole attendance to the event. If there is a problem, we cannot tell the client “this will be fixed by tomorrow,” — we need partners that are reliable and who will provide support when needed.

Dell and Intel™ technologies play a major role at different stages:
• We principally use Dell™ PowerEdge™ servers and we know we can rely on their high performance and strong features
• We are continuing our server virtualization process that we started over a year ago, guaranteeing us reactivity, adaptability and rationalization of our IT infrastructures
• Our on-the-go employees use Dell Latitude™ laptops; their reliability and high performance are imperative on-site when we are organizing events. By way of example, laptops and ultraportable laptops represent over 40 percent of Colloquium's IT infrastructure.