It’s fair to say that event technology can have its challenges; sleepless nights worrying about wi-fi, having to provide charging stations, delegates who still use the Nokia 5210!
Is it really worth the headache?
The advance of event technology has effected a step change in the way events are run in the same way that the internet has revolutionised retailing and the newspaper industry. There is no going back and those slow to adopt have a very tough time catching up
The smart device is now the accepted way to consume content. It is surely a good thing that the days of printing brochures are numbered; no more picking them up from the floor after an event and taking them straight to the shredder. But this simple, practical benefit pails into insignificance when other aspects are considered.
Providing easy access to content is only part of the story. The true value comes from understanding how people are using or consuming it. When people are interacting with the content they are giving us a glimpse into their subconscious thoughts and interests, ‘telepathy through technology’ if you will. This realisation moved online retail from simply displaying goods via a website to sophisticated software platforms and mobile apps that can predict human behaviour to the extent they know what you need before you even know yourself!
If we accept that the way content is communicated and distributed has changed for good, then we must accept that event tech has become the ‘new normal’. This does not mean it needs to provide new features or gimmicks every year to entertain the audience. In fact, doing so misses the fundamental point of where true value lies following the paradigm shift away from printed material.
Sales, Marketing, Internal Comms or Training?
Unlocking the commercial value of event tech comes from a deep understanding of what you are trying to achieve in the first place and then using the tools available to meet those objectives. With every event, there will be a vested interest and somebody footing the bill. Be this Sales, Marketing, Internal Comms or Training, value comes from connecting these stakeholders to their audience in a way that has hitherto been impossible. The data collected from events can now be used to provide detailed insight into how participants have engaged with the content. If this information is allowed to flow back into the business in a way that it is easy to analyse and articulate, then it can underpin the communication with these people moving forward. This means more targeted marketing, more effective sales messaging and more efficient training. Whatever the underlying agenda for the event, this insight is helping to provide empirical evidence that objectives have been met. That oh so elusive beast….ROI.
The industry is moving extremely fast and perhaps more by luck than judgement, event tech providers may just have stumbled upon a set of high-level principles that will move the technology from being simply a way to communicate at an event, to a way to communicate period.
The event is but a moment in time and forms just part of a ‘communication continuum’ between the organiser and their audience. The new generation of event tech recognises this fact and is now focusing on how to bring the advantages of interactive digital content distribution to live interactions on a daily basis, from smaller events and meetings all the way down to one-to-one presentations and pitches. Understanding the focus of a prospect during a live presentation is no different to an online retailer understanding the browsing behaviour of an ‘armchair shopper’. In this way, the event app, in its most fundamental form is simply a way to gather business intelligence from a captive audience. The more intuitive the interface and the more compelling the content then the more the audience will engage and the more data they will give you.
Suddenly the event app has moved away from being the best china that only comes out a few times a year to something that is used every day to prevent you having to eat your dinner directly off the table!
The old adage of ‘no pain, no gain’ could be an appropriate one when it comes to event tech, but with careful planning and the same level of rigour that is now applied to many other areas of the digital world, the gain should far outweigh a little pain.