Event technology how things haven’t really changed

(This post and the slides are taken from my session at the UK Association Congress which took place in London in December and covered event technology. I’ve amended it to make it more general and this post relates to every type of events business)

Can you believe that the world of technology moves so quickly? You would be forgiven for thinking “yup, it’s impossible to stay on top of technology, sometimes I wonder why we even try?”

Whether you realise it or not, this feeling or fear will be influencing your decisions when it comes to using event technology. 

If technology moves so fast, why do we even try to keep up.

But you will be pleased to know that my real role and my main driver is to show you that we fortunately work in an exceptionally slow part of the technology world. And for those who run any event business this is brilliant news!

So let’s look at why it is GREAT that we work in this particularly sleepy part of the techosphere.

The snails pace of event technology change

I’ve broken down the major types of event technology and I’d first like to separate them into two different groups. Even though you can name a hundred different suppliers of event technology they can all find a home in one of these fourteen sections.

So we have group one: 

Event Technology that attendees never see!

  • speaker management platforms
  • call for paper platforms
  • event management platforms 
  • promotional event platforms
  • social media management platforms 
  • email marketing platforms
  • digital studio / broadcasting suites

And here’s group two: 

Event Technology that attendees interact with 

  • event ticketing platforms 
  • event apps
  • event management front end
  • RFID and bump technologies
  • interactive / 3D walls, AV sets
  • touchy tech
  • online hosting platforms

My first point is that in my experience you have a much more success when the organiser focusses on group one BEFORE they focus on group two (this is contrary to what normally happens by the way) So, get everything in the office sorted before you think about adding the bells and whistles that the attendees see!

An overview of the types of event technology and note they haven’t changed in a long time!

Some of you may be thinking that actually, event technology is much more dynamic. So to prove my point, these two lists came from a document I wrote back in 2011 when I came up with the idea for Tech Fest (slide 3 is our badges for Tech Fest 2012) which was to become Europe’s first dedicated event technology event. 

Back in 2011 I listed these 14 groups of technology. And guess what, seven, almost eight years later I can confidently put up the same list and say it covers all the major types of event technology. 

So there isn’t a huge amount of new technology on the market and even those who provide #eventtech say that things aren’t really set to change that much. Our suppliers have mastered the basic needs. And this is all absolute fantastic news for you any event business. And here’s why:

 

Q: Who wants to spend time, money and resource getting up to speed with a new bit of technology for it to quickly become redundant?

 

Exactly, no one does, but I know that this fear underpins the decisions by many event businesses not to invest in event technology.

So I would say, you really can look at your investment decisions over a 3 to 5 year period. It is extremely unlikely that any of these 14 things are going to disappear and be replaced by something completely different. 

So to reiterate, not that much has changed in the last five years and not much is likely to change in the next three years. And that’s great from a risk perspective. 

What I’d like to concentrate on is the major developments, where event tech has become better since 2012. I’d like to highlight four areas.

the slow pace of event technology

Second set of slides from my session at the UK Association Congress in London 2018.

The first is automation

The 80% – 20% rule

The biggest success I have in adding value when supporting planners in other organisations is to help them reduce the amount of administrative tasks. I often find there is a 80/20 rule and I look to switch that round. We want to move from 80% of your time spent on admin and logistics – where I am guessing it may be for some of you – to only 20% of your time.

I often find planners who spend 80% of their day not adding any real value to their events: 80%. It really can be this much of an average planners day. These planners are of course working exceptionally hard running their events but they are doing many of the things that a great automated platform can do.

When we use technology to switch these figures around we have 80% of your time for tasks that add value to your attendees. And trust me when I say that event technology can help you do this and automation is the key.

We can all shift uncomfortably when we think that we are not working as efficiently as we can. We know we are working hard but I think we all know that we can probably work a wee bit smarter. Event technology has really embraced automation and it is really paying out for those organisations who have embraced event technology.

Interlopability is much, much better that it used to be

Most platforms have APIs that link to other platforms and it is much easier to have a suite of tech and link them than it used to be. This has removed a huge barrier. Where we used to have to download and then upload CSVs we can now transfer data as the click of a button.

Data driven

Almost every event the platform now offers you data. Now, whether or not you have the time or the inclination to do anything with that data is down to you but now at least every platform is providing the raw material.

Lowering cost

Things are cheaper. Most platforms have savvy competitors and this reduces the price you pay. So make sure you shop around and definitely include price in the list of things to check and compare. Slide 11 lists the tech and the cost for the online summits we run for one of our clients. In 2012 this would have cost in the £10,000s.

“Technology does change but not that quickly in the world of event technology. So we can embrace change now”