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Future Technology In Meetings Forum

What a great session at the QEIICC last Friday, I really enjoyed moderating with a fantastic audience and the best panel of really knowledgeable speakers from our top event management companies:

  • Rachel Frankel, Kenes
  • Dickie Freeman, GPJ
  • Miguel Neves, Synaxis Meetings
  • Ian Irving, The Tailor of Shoreditch
  • Rob Roffey, TFI

Discussion focused on what the audience wanted to hear about including

  • Audience participation technology
  • Virtual event options
  • digital media
  • What technology is worth adopting and which will just be a flash in the pan
  • Webinar type events and online event registration
  • New creative ways to communicate key messages and themes at my event using technology
  • (easy ways of) Involving overseas members in AGM
  • How connectors work for events with not English speaking people
  • How to combine live and virtual
  • How hybrid events can be easy to run
  • What new technologies there are to enable delivery in different ways and their ROI

Will we need to continually invest to keep up to date?

  • 52% said technology helped them work smarter and run their events more efficiently
  • A further 26% said they loved technology for work and play and said it helped them live life to the full.
  • Only 6% admitted being a slave to it while 13% owned up to taking all the change on board with difficulty and finding the speed of change stressful.

Thanks to IML we were lucky enough to use the new IML Connector and benefitted from how it encourages audience participation.

All the event management companies were strongly in favour of adding new options for extending an audience for an event through social networking, content on line and virtual aspects to their events. However without exception nobody believed virtual would replace face to face as a meeting experience. Sceptics among us might think, well they’re event management companies, they would say that wouldn’t they, but Dickie Freeman from GPJ was able to cite the example of Cisco’s conference where they tried a wholly virtual event one year and the following year opted for a hybrid mix of virtual and actual as the virtual event had not had the impact on performance that they had hoped for. Ian Irving said seeing yourself as an avatar was not a comfortable experience, and that virtual events could not touch the five senses in the way live events can as touch, smell and taste are as important as seeing and hearing to create impact. However the value and potential return of audiences is far higher with virtual attendees added to the reach.

Rachel Frankel said they had worked with a professor who had found it difficult to participate in social networking but by helping him through the process he has substantially extended the reach of his work and research to the point that he was now a total convert.

There was lots of discussion about the costs of new technologies and whether they paid for themselves.

  • 59% said new technologies added to the cost but added to ROI
  • 16% thought they saved money and increased ROI
  • 16% thought they costed extra without justification but were swayed by the discussion!
  • 35% of the audience said they would gain more value from their event if they added attendees virtually and a further 42% were not sure.

The speakers were refreshingly honest about when it works and were not trying to convert them to virtual but merely spelled out the options and how it worked for adding attendees. The benefits were felt to justify the costs.

Miguel Neves was a strong advocate of social networking and encouraged everyone to make the most of linkedin, explaining how it could benefit your business. Although he advised caution with facebook he predicted email would be taken over by social networking in a few years. All panellists agreed the ability to extend the life of a meeting before and after the event itself is a huge benefit of social networking.
He also explained the value of QR codes (specific matrix barcodes) for meetings management.

Some of the most interesting and amusing comments and responses are shown below

What could technology do to make your life easier in future?
For blackberries to have apps like iphones
Communicate with people who are not based locally
Save natural resources by reducing reliance on paper
Anything to give me more time
Quick response and feedback
The ability to link information between multiple applications
Speech to text
Always work when you need it to
Save time
(Do) my job for me!
Save time save money
To fly!
Tell me about transport problems
Easier online voting
Make me more money
Manage my finances
Increase revenues hit targets earlier more profitable
Easy availability
Will certainly help the business life safe time

When encouraged to think of What would be your dream invention? responses included
Mind reader
Time travel
Make me fly!
Pollution free transport
A player that copes with all film format automatically
Controlling people at the click of a button
Non fattening chocolate
(make me a)Michelin cook
A jab that allows me to speak a foreign language when travelling
True holographic representation at little cost
Find alternative to fossil fuels
Robot maid or cleaner
Stop time or go back in time or wrinkle eradicator

Everyone said they had the info they had been looking for by the end of the session and
72% agreed that New technologies are steering a revolution for conferences and events, ensuring they are more cost effective, more entertaining and increasing their return on investment.
22% were still not sure -perhaps we need another session for them?!

MPI’s Future Watch 2011 said “The technology available to the industry is phenomenal but we need to be careful how we use it”

We were certainly better informed and able to take this forward following this session.

A really useful website on technology in meetings is www.corbinball.com

Written by Sally Greenhill , The Right Solution Limited
T+44 (0)1442 450422
Follow us on twitter:rigsolution

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