Special contribution from The Expo Group’s EVP of Marketing and Client Strategies Ken Dec
Oliver Luckett opens Event Tech 2016 talking about The Social Organism.
I’m just back from this annual event and in case you didn’t make it, here are some observations.
1. AI and the ‘learning’ event
IBM’s story of its truly groundbreaking World of Watson event utilized AI to learn who attendees are (geography, industry, role, interests, etc.) and then recommended experiences to explore, other attendees to connect with, workshops to attend and Business Partners to engage with. Delivering the ‘personalized event experience’ isn’t in the future. It’s here.
2. Data-optimized, “on-the-fly” events
Now that measuring attendee traffic patterns and dwell times in ‘near real time’ (about 4-5 minutes) is accessible to most brands, optimizing an event’s physical layout during the show based on that data is now possible. This capability will increasingly require experience designers to think about experience ‘portability’. It also makes possible better future experience design and more evidence-based exhibit and sponsorship sales in the conference management space.
3. Event Management Operating Systems
Given the volume of new event technologies, along with technologies that could potentially be applied to events, we’re beginning to see development of more event management platforms capable of delivering end-to-end solutions. Established firms are trying to cobble together their ‘built and bought’ technologies, but now there are new software firms working on building the ‘event OS’ from the ground up.
4. Engagement and Entertainment aren’t the same thing
Thankfully, there are an increasing number of voices in the event tech world who are making the point that many technologies being proposed as driving ‘engagement’ are really entertainment, temporary diversions on the show floor. Entertainment is ephemeral. Engagement is about making a more meaningful connection. Knowing the difference is critical to making smart technology investments, ones that ‘connect and convert’ attendees to your brand, not simply provide them with a fleeting ‘that was fun’ distraction.
5. ‘How’ is more important than ‘What’
This is an ongoing challenge with event tech and other technologies that could be applied to event tech, and this gathering was not immune to lots of talk about Snapchat, Magic Leap, chatbots, AR/VR, etc. – but very little discussion about how brands can intelligently apply these technologies for optimizing engagement in live events. When evaluating what experiential technologies to invest in, be clear about what your ‘connect and convert’ objectives are first, then select technologies that help you achieve those objectives.