“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits, the rebels and the trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.”
Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple™ (1955-2011)
Drs Seungwon Lee, Dessislava Boshnakova and myself have coauthored the world’s first text book in the field of meeting and event technology in order to explore the current and future technological tools and resources you will need to thrive in the global meetings and events marketplace. Traditionally, meetings, events and universities have been referred to as marketplaces of ideas. The marketplace was historically a geographically fixed place. This is no longer true. These marketplaces do not manufacture traditional goods and products in one place; through technology they now create information, provide education and transform thinking through collaboration in many different places, resulting in events without end. In little more than half of a century, just about the length of Steve Jobs’s life, the meetings and events industry has experienced dramatic change, illustrated by the schematic as follows:
The Paradigmatic Changes in Meetings and Events Between 1950 and 2014
FROM – TO
Analogue – Digital
Collision – Collaboration
Content – Context
Event – Events without end
Live – Blended
Local – Cloud
Hardware – Software
Human Staff -Technological Staff
Source: Goldblatt, 2014
What is next?
According to the leading journalists reporting on trends in the meetings and events industry, we are only just beginning to experience the tip of a very deep iceberg in terms of future developments in this rapidly evolving industry.
We need to develop the ability to collect implicit data about our attendees. People read and share differently. The further use of (Radio Frequency Identification) RFID badges to create a heat map with the facility to observe human behaviour during meetings and events looks set to become increasingly important, as will the ability to instantly conduct and act upon data through polls and surveys, both providing real-time feedback for organisers.
There is a sign over the door of the United States Archives that states “Where Past is Prologue”. If the past is our prologue to the future, then one common function regarding all meeting and event technological innovations appears to be the role of communications. Following the development of the printing press, the most profound development in human communications history has been the internet and mobile personal device technology, which has resulted in ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning and communications.
Advancements in social media
Within the space of barely a decade Facebook has managed to connect over a billion people worldwide (300% growth in five years), LinkedIn has over 225 million and Twitter is tracking over 340 million tweets per day; add to that YouTube’s one billion users watching over six billon hours of video each month and it’s plain to see how peer-to-peer communication will promote future growth, and demand, in events.
And in the last five years, meeting and event technology has rapidly developed and is now moving towards standardisation through the influence of Convention Industry Council’s Applied Practices Exchange (APEX) and other platforms. Meetings and events are essential in a social context and for direct learning, so advancements in technology must enhance rather than replace the face-to-face experience of delegates. These developments will help the ever-growing technology pie to rise and enable future meeting and event technologists to more quickly reach more people with higher quality experiences at lower costs.
Professor Joe Goldblatt, FRSA, Development Officer and Executive Director International Centre for the Study of Planned Events, School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management, Tourism, Hospitality and Events, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh