When you ask more than two dozen top events industry professionals for their insights on technology trends, the answers (no surprise) are fascinating.
At the highest level, what comes through from the responses is the unique, at times even uneasy, the relationship of technology to live events, in comparison to other forms of communication. Most modern methods of conversation—email, phone calls, texting, video conferencing—rely on digital technology. It’s at their core. But live events are all about direct face-to-face interaction. If you and I are across the world from each other, we need technology in order to communicate.
And yet technology is indispensable for modern event management, from registration to sound and lighting, digital displays, interactive games, security, data collection, social media engagement, and collecting attendee feedback. As Christy Lamagma brilliantly phrases this below:
Technology can be a powerful tool to streamline processes (and) automate tasks…(but) what it can’t do is replace the face to face experience that is unique to events and that is integral to building relationships.
We interviewed 27 experts who told us, among other things, that augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), as well as artificial intelligence (AI), are emerging trends—though some skepticism remains. While their opinions varied, all agreed that collecting valuable event data, integrating it with other sources to deliver personalized event experiences is a must have now and in the future.
Below we have listed just a small selection of what the biggest names in the field see as the biggest trend(s) in events this year, particularly in relation to event technology:
Augmented reality (AR) and chatbots with artificial intelligence (AI) will enhance the attendee experience. Google Indoor Maps and newer products using beacon technology can provide conference attendees with a sort of ‘indoor GPS’ system to find their way around large event venues…AR technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world…will soon be added to the arsenal of indoor positioning methods…
As for AI-powered chatbots, the explosion of voice-activated systems such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home attest to the rapidly increasing capabilities of these systems. However, the voice interface does not work well in crowded environments such as a meeting room or a tradeshow…(so) text-based systems are starting to emerge as an excellent chatbot alternative.
Corbin Ball, Founder at Corbin Ball & Co.
Technology is changing the length of general sessions, how content is formatted and presented, how people process information and what they expect/need to remain engaged. AI and VR are on their way to the events world and, in my opinion, will transform tradeshow floors in particular.
Christy Lamagna / CEO of Strategic Meetings & Events
The biggest topics of discussion are augmented, virtual and mixed reality; proximity technologies; artificial intelligence, data analysis, and blockchain technologies. Of that list, I’ve observed that wearable beacons and other proximity-based technologies, as well as artificial intelligence, are getting the most traction from planners looking to try something new.
Michelle Bruno / Publisher of Event Tech Brief
The biggest event tech trend is”augmented reality. I suspect that in the coming years, it will usurp virtual reality because it offers most of the benefits while sidestepping some of VR’s drawbacks. The technology is also ready-made for any company that makes ingredient products or the invisible technology that allows our gadgets and gizmos to function.
At an auto show, for instance, AR allows visitors to see inside a vehicle and take note of all the unique benefits that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. And unlike VR, you don’t have to completely shut out your actual reality in order to participate, which I think makes it more user-friendly in an exhibit and event context
Travis Stanton / Editor of EXHIBITOR Magazine
The biggest trend is “definitely the adoption of more AI-enabled platforms, from chatbots to personalisation algorithms. This technology is only going to become more ubiquitous in the next few years to the point where it will be an expectation that AI should be powering a lot more of the functions we perform at work and in our personal lives when using the Internet or digital devices.
James Morgan / Founder at James Morgan Associates.