The technology paradigm in events needs to change
The event organisation industry was always very susceptible to new technologies. Since the emergence of the World Wide Web, to the first smartphones, this field has always been able to follow quite closely the most significant innovations in the industry. Just notice that in a very natural way, eventually there were events exclusively dedicated to new technologies disclosure, such as CES or even E3 itself.
Some technologies have reached the industry in a very noticeable and almost immediate fashion, such as interactive virtual scenarios, social networking, tweet-walls - the case of Kiwiscreen - or even customised smartphone applications for each event. More recently, drone systems and virtual and augmented reality glasses - such as Samsung VR and Oculus Rift - have been slowly gaining a prominent place. Because they are emerging and rapidly developing technologies, I must confess that it is not yet clear to me these technologies role in the global panorama of events organisation industry. However, I believe they have the potential to bring something new, as soon as they become products that eliminate some small problems that currently still exist.
Being professionally connected to this area, I feel, however, that in any of these cases, technology turns out to be something interesting, but still opaque to the user. In many situations, the implemented technological solutions end up loose on the absence of a broader context that allows us to have a more ubiquitous and transparent notion that the whole event has an innovative, unique and coherent component. Basically, though technological solutions are installed and applied in a particular place or event, usually they find themselves scattered and closed in themselves, not contributing to a single, unified spirit that gives a proper and harmonious soul to the event. In many cases, and for obvious reasons, it is natural for this to happen, but it is not always what you had in mind when organising an event. And this is not a problem of technology or the organisation or the event itself. I am thus convinced that this is a conceptual problem - and in a competitive manner - with technology itself.
It is problematic and even confusing for a user having to install an app only for a particular event. How many participants are willing to install the app in the first place? How many of these participants come to the conclusion that they will have to delete personal photos or other applications before they can install an app that will only be used for a very short time? How many of these have already installed other apps from other events, only to realise that they did not bring anything new that was not already provided on flyers or in the conference program? How many of these people will not explore in depth all application capabilities, either for lack of time, expertise or even patience? How many of these users will feel more engaged in the event just for having an installed application? How many of these will actually feel that the application brings them something that they could not have obtained otherwise? And in the end, will it have been worth the investment?
Let's add to this the fact that we may have several different applications. One of the event, another for the interactive forum with questions and answers, the various social media, news feeds of events. Add a QR Codes player in order to get access to exclusive content within the event. Or a virtual ticket manager or an application that enables gamification in events and provides us with targets to achieve during a certain period of time. Or perhaps an application that lists the various events occurring at the same time and provides us with news from each. Depending on the type of event where we are, maybe there's an app for sponsor or stand. All this makes a participant, even if he is frequent user of this type of technology, feel lost and inserted in a confused and incoherent environment.
For all this, why not being the authors of a significant change in this paradigm? Why not making the various technologies work together to create a truly immersive and unique experience for each event, tailored specifically for each case? The customisation of both hardware and software is not new, and neither is the creation of intelligent hubs whose responsibility is the interconnection and intercommunication of the different platforms to create truly cohesive environments combining various technologies, including different manufacturers or suppliers. It is possible to say that there are many negative points, starting with the cost of such solutions or the difficulty these challenges entail. But it is also possible to say with certainty that not only an experience of this kind has never been made in an event, but also it would surely compensate the cost of integration and the necessary planning.
Additionally, the same could be applied to other events, always with different final results, creating a single soul for each occasion that could be renewed as technology evolved and other players were earning their place in the market. Imagine an event where visitors can check-in online directly on site. When they do it - without a special application being required – they automatically receive a personalised event bag. If you choose to check in via a social media, the event program can be further customised based on your profile. Other participants may be notified that a user has an interesting curriculum in a particular area and start a conversation with each other (always taking into account the privacy requirements). Using proximity sensors, the participant can automatically obtain more information on the stands or crossing indoor location with timetable information, it may even be possible to directly access information about speakers at a certain place, at a given time. It would be possible to participate in the event by asking questions via smartphone, in an uncomplicated way.
Or open new using experiences with virtual and augmented reality only through ubiquitous technologies, so transparent they become an integrated part of the event. This is where the technology becomes so advanced it seems magic. This is my vision for technology in the events. But the best part of all this is that all of this technology is already available and only waiting that we apply it in an integrated, consistent and unique way. And fortunately we are lucky to be right in the middle of this revolution just waiting for it to happen.
Tiago Fernandes, CEO of Multiverso, Kiwiscreen owner