By Tia Crawford
The Event Industry is constantly reinventing itself—endlessly searching for new, fresh, better, and more eye-popping options on a long list of event necessities. Event Planners are looking for the most fashionable décor of the moment, the trendiest venue, and the guest speaker that is most in demand; however, behind the scenes, business events strive for informational exchange and networking connections. Technology has grown from a supporting factor into a driving force, as it has become imbedded in our learning and communication—more deeply than we ever imagined. Technology that only DAYS ago was considered Science Fiction is now becoming realized as fact—from 3-D printing to teleportation! We selected the top five developing technologies that are actively changing events at this moment.
- Wearables—although Google Glass has been shelved, there’s no doubt that the concept is here to stay, and that hands-free Internet or Wi-Fi connected devices will evolve—eventually changing our daily lives in ways that we can hardly predict. Currently, Internet-linked eyeglasses, watches, clothing, and wristbands are all finding their way into the Event Industry. For business events such as conferences or trade shows, speakers and Event Managers may be the most likely to benefit from “smart glasses,” since they provide visual prompts, communication, navigation, and sharing—all on the go—and are controlled hands-free through voice interaction. Speakers and Event Planners can use the technology to manage better presentations and events! For attendees, less obvious and physically obtrusive wearables such as smart watches and NFC (near field communication) wristbands or rings can effortlessly aid individuals, helping them to gather information, network with other attendees, and have a more personalized experience at any event.
- The Internet of Things—moving into a deeper examination of connectivity, the “Internet of Things” is a rapidly developing concept with far-reaching effects. Through barcodes, QR codes, digital watermarking, radio frequency identification (RFID), and NFC, objects can transmit information on their movement, in a device-to-device information gathering and sharing network. The technology that has brought us “smart homes”—allowing us to remotely connect with and control our appliances, for example—is poised to assist in our understanding and regulating of nearly every industry. In the case of events, the Internet of Things (IoT) will bring increasingly advanced personalization to our events, as guests remotely request information and services, as well as ease the workload for Event Managers who can digitally monitor everything from breakout room attendance to paper towel inventory.
- BLE and iBeacon—BLE (Bluetooth low energy) and iBeacons are already on the scene; Event Planners are just beginning to discover and utilize their potential. As our devices and wearables transmit information regarding our specific location, these Geofencing and proximity-sensing technologies are waiting for the precise moment when their services are useful to guests. From audio-visual information and wayfinding, to personalization and registration information, these location-specific technologies are connecting attendees to the tailored experiences that create impact.
- Event Apps and Gamification—many events already incorporate specialized apps. However, there’s simply no end to the amount of development that can customize this technology. Event Planners are assessing their attendees and determining their events’ purpose—specialized event apps and games are the ideal way to—literally—guide attendees toward a company’s mission and event goal. Whether the objective is education and training, sales conversions, marketing and outreach or networking, games and apps can be created to construct precisely the outcome that any business is seeking.
- Big Data and Analytics—the future is about data. All of the technology we’ve discussed rests upon voluminous quantities of information. How this information is analyzed and utilized is the key to the future. Businesses are in a position to finally understand the movement of their inventory and the minds of their customers. Truly, the next frontier for the Event Industry is how to effectively utilize the information that we now control.