On November 19, IBTM World, one of the world's largest international events, will host a three-day networking extravaganza, filled with updates on the latest in events, meetings, conferences and technology. Of the immense amount of festivities on the IBTM itinerary, among them is the Tech Watch Award, given to those companies that are working hard to enhance the events experience for attendees and making it more efficient for the professionals in the industry.
With the event just around the corner, IBTM asked the experts -- doubling as Tech Award judges -- about what they're most excited about, how tech can improve events and their thoughts on the biggest challenges planners face in the world of event technology.
James Morgan, founder of Event Tech Lab, expressed excitement about Rich Communications Services (RCS), which are text- and voice-based chatbots. Morgan believes they will have "a big impact on events in the future." Referencing a study by Gartner, a research and advisory company, it was projected that by 2020, 75 percent of customer service communications will occur via RCS. "Due to this technological advancement, production costs and attendee satisfaction have increased," he said.
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Kubify's Learning Toolbox, which won IBTM's People's Choice Tech Watch Award last year, is what Martin Sirk, owner of Sirk Serendipity, is most excited about. He's less excited about what it is marketed as an ePoster, engagement enhancer and Round Table content, than for what it may do in the future. "The potential of Learning Toolbox to add depth and intelligence to any delegate-to-delegate interaction is enormous," he said. "I can see it being used in all kinds of innovative ways by smart meeting organizers; and it is very user-friendly."
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"The best event technologies take human psychology in account," said Sirkin. Event tech has numerous benefits, among them are helping the less socially adept to network and create connections, merging behavior with event programs to spark greater engagement and adapting to the different learning styles of attendees.
Data, one of the most sought-after currencies by companies large and small, was also mentioned by Sirk. "Some extremely valuable technologies help organizers manage and exchange an overwhelming volume of data gathered at events, as well as analyze this data through identifying patterns and predicting behaviors, which later can provide opportunities for improvement," Sirk said.
According to Morgan, event technology deployment is based on three factors: which technology will suit an audience, the organizer and their client's willingness to embrace technology, and the event's budget for event technology. External factors, such as Wi-Fi quality and device connectivity, can also greatly affect the use of technology during an event.
Sirk believes that most planners don't make the best use of new technology. There are numerous reasons, he says: "Firstly, there is a fear of failure, which inhibits experimentation; secondly, many organizers seek technological solutions that fit into their existing event model, rather than taking risks and recognizing that technologies could provide an opportunity to reinvent an event; thirdly, few organizers understand the psychology of their delegates, so they can't judge which technologies would have the best potential to enhance an event; or they omit to see the difference between an online experience and live events."
Technology moves at a much faster rate than event planners can adapt, that's where a big problem lies, according to Corbin Ball, founder of Corbin Ball & Co. Given the rate at which technology moves, planners are hesitant to adopt new technologies for tasks, such as delegate vetting, lest they turn out to be a waste of time. "Technology choices should be made based on organizers' goals of improving the event in measurable ways, as opposed to choosing the newest, flashiest product," Corbin added.