Back to the future

“Roads, where we’re going we don’t need roads,” may have been one of the opening quotes of 80’s retro movie Back to the Future Part II, but it was also an ambitious glimpse into what our future might be like…

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Flying cars aside, there are plenty of things in the film that the script writers got right when predicting future technology.

 

Virtual reality, augmented reality and mobile payments are only a few of the tech predictions that are quite simply astonishingly accurate. Holographic cinema, turning rubbish into fuel, social networking and video calling on your TV are among the many others.

 

With the actual date used in the film, 21 October 2015 recently passing us, and the year coming to a close, as a small tribute to Marty McFly, EN caught up with a group of event professionals to discuss the current state of play in
event technology.

How would you sum up the last 12 months in the tech sector of the events industry?

 

Alastair Reece, Head of DB Pixelhouse: On the outside, it doesn’t look like much has changed significantly this year - all the same technologies are at play and are getting more sophisticated. However, I think there have been significant ‘invisible’ changes in technology.

Robert Dunsmore, Director, Live Events, Blitz|GES: Progressive – but still a long way to go. The generic acceptance that live events require live technology has seen overdue improvements in infrastructure and increased adoption of technology and tools to amplify connectivity – but still at a pace that does not encourage innovation.

David Chalmers, European marketing director, Cvent: Perhaps the biggest development during the past 12 months has been the improvement that we have seen in the onsite experience for attendees. Everything is more streamlined.

What do you think the event industry has learned?

 

Juraj Holub, Marketing and content manager, sli.do: The industry is learning to trust technology and this year it took a giant leap in this aspect.

Matt Coyne, Business development director, N200|GES: The industry is starting to learn that with useful technology, they can start to prove on their delivery of ROI or ROO to stakeholders of an event.

AR: That there’s little space for technology for technology’s sake. Increasingly, clients are now coming to us with a problem to solve and are letting us help shape which technologies to use to give visitors and delegates the best possible experience.

Favourite piece of technology in 2015?

JH: Slack. This mega-powerful messaging tool completely transformed our internal communication at sli.do. Plus we love its funny quotes and loading messages. Slack has become our cheeky robot sidekick.

RD: At the low-tech end Conductive Ink which I find both curious and diverting – and at the higher echelon Microsoft HoloLens looks breath-taking, both are magical and both actually work.

Maria Schuett, Head of marketing, Central Hall Westminster: CrowdMics – a newcomer app from the US, offering an easy AV plug-in, converting hundreds of delegate devices into personal microphones.

MC: My iPhone. It’s got everything I need on it;
contacts, social apps and my event intelligence reports,
so I can see how our customers are doing from anywhere
in the world.

AR: One of my favourites this year was the virtual reality Oculus Rift headsets combined with an immersive sound experience, customised digital content and leap motion (gesture-control technology).

DC: Names that spring to mind include Loopd, Alliance Tech and Noodle Live for exchanging information, and Ingo for integrating social media into the registration process.

What should the industry look out for?

 

MS: We need an ecosystem for those fragmented data silos and to nurture a culture of sharing; only then clever algorithms can make sense of a collective pool and produce reliable results.

MC: Making it as easy as possible for delegates or exhibitors to get engaged with your event, from mobile registration to seeing what seminar sessions they want to see from their phone wherever they are, will only help to grow engagement in our industry.

 

RD: Stuff that visitors want to use. I tend to judge potential adoption along two lines - technology at a live event should either solve a problem (improve the visitor experience) or deliver some form or creative engagement (improve the visitor experience) – you can take risks with the later but not the former.

Predictions for 2016?

 

AR: The applications and SaaS solutions will get better at integrating in with other technologies enabling brands to create really tailored activations which respond to a user’s demographic profile with customised content.

JH: We will see organisers keep on leveraging social media, using interactive session formats and implementing the interaction technology to engage their delegates.

MS: More so than ever, delegates want simplicity in 2016. With a relatively slow adoption rate of technology in the UK, we need to create user experiences that offer solutions to existing problems – neither complicating nor pushing new ones.

 

This article was first published in the December issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne

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