News, Trends, Digitization
30 Oct 2015

Smart events reflect digital evolution

It may sound a bit like science fiction: appointments via smart watches, details of events in real time on mobile applications, data glasses to enrich content at conferences and then sharing it with the world via virtual walls, a close encounter with products through augmented reality and participation in meetings via human 3D projections. All this does occasionally become reality in the events industry. But how many and which of these technical innovations actually make sense? Which of them are just trendy gimmickry, and which provide genuine added value?


New technologies can of course deliver numerous benefits in the event industry. Well optimised participant management systems, for instance, can save a company valuable time and money on processing. Mobile apps can give participants a new dimension of networking opportunities as well as practical assistance by providing information and helping them with organisational matters. As they arrive, many guests have come to find virtual platforms helpful and indeed indispensable. Interactive tools have long been an integral part of events, e.g. live voting conducted by the presenter and the provision of content information for anyone who is unable to attend in person. New applications are available for use after an event, to help with the accounting of travel expenses, with reporting and with following up new business contacts – tools that function as interfaces between real meetings and virtual contact.

However, this increasing digitisation of events also has its undesirable side-effects, particularly a ubiquitous and sometimes almost unmanageable information overload, a sense of ongoing availability, the feeling among participants that they are being monitored and of course the potential transparency or even vulnerability of personal or corporate data security. Moreover, the advent of new technologies also presents quite a few challenges, as corporate departments – e.g. travel and event management, IT, HR and accounting – need to be seamlessly networked with one another. Even a single media disruption in the data chain may mean that the next networking level just grinds to a halt. In addition, everyone who is involved, regardless of age and expertise, needs to familiarise themselves with the relevant digital tools. It is therefore vital that they should be user-friendly and suitable for everyday use, while also requiring a good deal of sensitivity in deciding when to use which of the various tools, so that a given application can do full justice to the target group and the content of the event.

So it’s good to think twice before setting up a food printer for lunch at the next conference, a robot to monitor the various stages of the event or a drone to hand out conference papers, and it might be somewhat inappropriate to call a meeting with everyone turning up in the form of 3D projections. After all, it may just be little bit over the top.


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