Technology Trends in 2015
There is a lot of hype around technology in events. In the last year a lot of new services have popped up, all claiming we really need to use them at our events, and many employ a lot of buzz words and jargon. This must be pretty daunting for most to wade through, so we thought it might be useful if we gave our thoughts on what we think will happen in 2015.
2015 – Year of the App?
It is true that delegates are expecting more and more technology to be available at the events they attend. A high percentage of delegates own smart phones and they are used to the ‘app’ culture. We recently attended the first “Event Tech” exhibition and there were many providers of event apps, all proclaiming they are a “must have” for events.
For some events such as exhibitions, event apps on delegates’ own devices can offer great advantages, but implementation is still an issue. The official app for the Event Tech exhibition was downloaded and installed by fewer than 50% of the visitors (based on official attendance figures against a quick count on the app itself); and this was at an exhibition about technology for events.
I think there is also a belief that the use of app will reduce the workload for an events team, however, there is a lot involved:
- Who is inputting and updating the data in the app?
- Who is sending out emails to delegates reminding them to download the app?
- Who is preparing the onsite signage explaining how to use the app?
- Who is helping delegates install and operate the app?
A simple-to-use web-based solution will offer a better solution for many events as there are no downloads and are by definition easier to use.
So, I think there will be an upsurge in the use of Event Apps in 2015, but I fear many will be disappointed by the results they achieve.
Venue Wi-Fi will improve over 2015 as venues adjust to the demands of their clients. However, many venues will still be offering expensive and sub-standard Wi-Fi and internet connections, so unfortunately there will be some screams of frustration throughout 2015 as event organisers discover too late the Wi-Fi is just not capable of delivering what is required.
There are many different technologies that can be used at events now. Some experts feel we should “drench” our delegates in technology in 2015. Hopefully however, wise event managers will see sense and be very selective about which technologies to implement. One quote I’m fond of is:
I think we will see though some events lose their way by thinking a deluge of information is helping their event. Our attention spans are getting shorter by the hour it seems (thank you Twitter) and also opinions are often created instantly, with no deliberation or contemplation (thank you again, Twitter). 2015 will I hope create some islands of sanity where technology is used sensibly to increase delegate attention and boost rational and measured thinking instead.
As event organisers try to introduce technologies to their events, 2015 will see them become increasingly frustrated by the lack of integration between the different suppliers. This is not an easy nut to crack at all, but I think 2015 will start to see event organisers demanding their suppliers talk to each other to find ways data can be shared and outcomes improved.
Wearable technology has been touted as the next big thing: however there is yet to be a “killer app” for this – certainly not one that is applicable to the events industry. At the latest CES in Las Vegas, where new technology is shown off to easily-wowed audiences, wearable technology included a belt that vibrates when you have been sitting down too long…
Google have recently announced they will not develop their Glass program any further – another reason for doubting wearable technology’s current usefulness.
I suppose we can classify RFID badges and wristbands as wearable technology, and I think this is perhaps the only one that will have any significant impact at events in 2015.
The use of GPS outdoors is a great tool however it cannot be used indoors with any great accuracy at all. This makes it impossible to use at most events as a way of giving delegates/visitors location-based information.
The introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy beacons (or iBeacons as Apple call them) will provide new ways of lead generation and helping visitors get the most out of their visit to exhibitions and trade shows. This involves installing beacons that can be detected by an app on a mobile phone which then tailors what appears on screen according to their location. It can also be used for more fun things such as scavenger hunts too, and there will be other applications that will emerge. This is an area that will see growth in 2015.
In conclusion there will be a lot more technology employed at events in 2015 as delegates and clients request and expect more. Suppliers will have to be more versatile and flexible in order to accommodate the different requirements at the events they support. I think it will be a year of consolidation, building on the changes of the last couple of years. Event organisers will have to be aware though of the plethora of new solutions, many of which profess to be “disruptive” or “award-winning”.
The wise event organiser will be asking their suppliers a lot of questions in order to get the right solutions for the events they organise…