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Posts tagged ‘Meeting Tech Trends’

The Future of Meetings: Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother?The Future of Meetings was a hot topic at the MPI World Education Conference this week. While there was a lot of discussion around the topic – the answer was not so easy to pin down. At times, I felt like the baby bird searching for his mother in P.D. Eastman’s Story “Are You My Mother.”

Is “Technology” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings sends some people flying toward technology. This was evidenced by the thousands of attendees that flocked to the many technology sessions to learn about the latest whizbangs and strategies. This was evidenced by the paperless program, the Mobile apps and the Pathable community.

So, it’s technology right? Smartphones and that kind of stuff. Um, not exactly.

Is “Environment” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings sends others into the “better room layout” and “environment” corner. Joan Eisenstodt, for example, wants pictures on the walls, natural light and flexible space. When she says that many in the crowd nod with approval. Some cheer. Venue Executives mumble profanities. While others would just be happy if the room setup would match the session. “Rounds in the general session room? What’s that all about,” asks one attendee.

So, it’s environment right? Redesign the conference centers OR match the room setup to the needs. That must be the future of meetings. Um, not exactly.

Is “Content” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings sends others into the “content” corner. These people are talking about content delivery, interactive formats, learning styles, objectives, discovery, etc. They say less time listening to boring speakers and more time interacting in an informal learning environment. When someone says more collaboration and interaction – groups of people start whooping and hollering Texas style. Speakers scratch their heads and ask if better hand gestures would help.

So, it’s content right? Use more collaborative formats. Get people out of chairs and writing on white boards. Um, not exactly.

Is “Attendee Experience” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings gets others talking about attendee experience. It’s about putting the attendee at the center of the event. Ruud Janssen says that we need to think about it like “100 events for 100 people.” Another person talks about interviewing “professional attendees” – the conference road warriors – and using their needs as the model for how these experiences could work.

So, it’s attendee experience right? Design events with the attendee in mind. Um, not exactly.

Is “Storytelling” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings gets others talking about storytelling. It’s about narrative and personas they say. They talk about the strong characters in movies and books that we identify with. They talk about the dilemmas created in good vs. evil situations. They continue on with more stuff that is over our heads – but sounds good. Many nod in approval.

So, it’s storytelling right? We just hire a scriptwriter create good characters, put Bruce MacMillan in a flying harness and get Stephen Spielberg to show us how to produce the stuff. Um, not exactly.

Is “Inspiration” the Future of Meetings?

The keynote speakers from the Opening General Session will tell you that the future of meetings is about passion and inspiring people to become part of something greater than themselves. They will site examples of people coming from remarkable circumstances that you couldn’t ever imagine to do something extraordinary. Since, we are all amazed – we nod with approval and donate $20.

So, it’s inspiration right? We find someone or something that inspires us – like Bruce Willis or the A-team. Then we book them for our next event. That’s the ticket! Um, not exactly.

Is “Outside the Industry” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of events gets others to talk about looking outside our industry for the answer. Looking for inspiration in art, in movies, in design, in Farmville, in nature and in space. Or was it in Oldspice? Regardless, asking ourselves what the Future of Meetings looks like – doesn’t help – because we all have the similar answers. As we hear this point of view, we nod again.

So, it’s looking outside ourselves right? We watch a few OldSpice commercials, play Farmville and “friend” that Zuckerberg dude who created Facebook – then we will know the future of events. Right? Um, not exactly.

So what is the Future of Meetings?

Well, if the future of meetings is not technology or space or content or attendee experience or inspiration or outside factors – then what is it?

I have no idea. I just can tell you that it is not ONE of those factors – it is all of them. As far as I can tell that is the conclusion drawn from the MPI World Education Conference.

What do you think our future meetings and events will look like? or what do they need to look like?

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Note: I did receive partial registration reduction for agreeing to participate in the Social Media Guru program at MPI’s World Education Conference.

Inspiration for Your Shiny New Event App

application examplesOver the past few months, I have been collecting smart phone apps that I think are doing “cool” and “innovative” things in my inspiration folder.

While I haven’t found any “event” app that seems to pull everything together in “just the right way” – I have found several event apps that are worth checking out. In fact, if you could mash the best elements of these apps together – you could have an awesome event app. Today, I want to share a few of these apps with you.

Without further ado, here are five event apps. that I hope provide you a little inspiration.

Vancouver Olympics 2010

> Which Event: 2010 Vancouver Olympics

> What does it do: This app was designed to be an Olympics guide that fit into the palm of your hand. It provided a real time schedule of events that was searchable and sortable by venue, date, event type, etc. It used the phone’s geo-position capability to help users find their way to venues, etc. Finally, there was a live Medal scoreboard and news stream that helped you stay on top of the latest news.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: I thought the user interface was innovative and well done on this application. While I was writing this post, I learned that if you shake the phone while the app is on – it will show you different videos. Cool. (Don’t ask me why I was shaking my iphone!)

Meet Different 2010

> Which Event: Meeting Professionals Internationl’s North American Education Conference (called Meet Different)

> What does it do: This app provided a real time schedule, links to social tools, speaker profiles, etc. Some of the same stuff as above.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: I liked how this application bridged the social applications (Twitter, Pathable community, etc.) into the application.

March Madness on Demand

> Which Event: 2010 NCAA College Basketball Tournament

> What does it do: This app provided a status update on all games, streamed the radio broadcasts and live video broadcasts from the games. Also, it linked personalized content just for me on the NCAA hoops website. Finally, the application sent me notifications that told me when games were close OR when a potential upset was about to happen.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: The live video and alerts (also called push notifications) were awesome here! You could select different types of alerts that you wanted to receive. Then the application would send you these little “heads up messages.” I think this could be a useful way to send attendees special update messages like “You better get to the lobby! The bus is leaving in 10 minutes.”

NOTIFICATIONS SCREEN

MTO Summit Chicago

> Which Event: Meeting TechOnline Summit Chicago

> What does it do: This app provided a schedule for the event, personalized schedule, link to speaker profiles, exhibitor information, session feedback forms, twitter stream and the exhibitor guide.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: The personalized schedule was very useful. I could select different sessions from the event and include them in my schedule. It was very easy to do and I could see how it would simplify life at larger, more complex events. Also, this application had surveys and feedback forms embedded in the schedule. Having paperless feedback forms rather than paper made it easy to complete the forms and submit them – like 1-2-3.

Digital Now

> Which Event: Digital Now Conference

> What does it do: This app provided an agenda, speaker profiles, video case studies, partner information, linkedin and twitter integration, ability to send feedback to organizer and the ability to record audio notes.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: I really enjoyed the video case studies. It seemed that the videos were embedded in the application when I downloaded it. I didn’t have to connect to some other place etc. This was a great thing. Also, the links to the social sites (twitter and linkedin) allowed me to engage right away from the application.

Digital Now Video Case Study Screen

Bottom Line

Hopefully this post gives you a good idea of some of the creative things that other events are doing with their smart phone apps. I am sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I imagine that there are many more interesting ideas out there as well.

What other “event focused apps” would you recommend event organizers consider for inspiration? What other features would you like to see in these apps?

(PS – For those of you that would like to debate the validity of smart phone apps vs handheld devices for events — hold your horses — that will be another post. Save your ammunition and check back in a few days.)

Is Your Mingle Stick Poken Attendees in the BeLinker

In his book Here Comes Everybody Clay Shirky writes – “If you give them more of a reason to do something, they will do more of it, and if you make it easier to do more of something that they are already inclined to do, they will also do more of it.

Shirky came to mind when I heard that 3,000 attendees at an HR Block conference exchanged 153,000 digital business cards and 15,000 paperless brochures using the Busy Event BeLinker. (Case)

The BeLinker must be dead simple for attendees to understand and use. When I talked with Brian Slawin of Busy Event recently, I asked him – how did you get so many people to use it?

Brian emphasized three things:

  1. The organizer sent attendees emails telling them about the new technology.
  2. Attendees had a demonstration & short activity at the beginning to introduce people to the tech and let them try it.
  3. They had a support area for attendees with questions.

The Message: Simple is Good – but so is making sure that attendees feel comfortable with the technology.

Wait! Wait! There’s More!

While Busy Event has a great case – several similar technologies have entered the market in the past 15 months. Here are some examples:

> Poken – Originally designed for college kids, these are sponsorable take home versions of Busy Event. By touching your Poken to another attendee’s Poken, you can exchange social business cards that connect each other’s facebook, twitter and linkedin accounts together. By the looks of things – it is taking off at events. Read the BMW Case Study and IBM Case Study to see how this tool is being used.

> Mingle Stick – This little gadget works similarly to BusyEvent and Poken – except that it is not as robust as BusyEvent or as cool as Poken.

> Living TradeShow – The LivingTradeshow Crickit gives attendees a one button system for exchanging lead information. These little devices are tied to a powerful backend database and onsite network (like BusyEvent) to let exhibitors look at lead information in a live format. The cool thing about these CrickIt devices is that they can be custom molded for each tradeshow and serve as a take-home item.

A Word of Caution – About Mobile Devices

For those of you drinking the mobile-phone KoolAid, I think mobile has some work to do to become as-simple-for-attendees-to-use as these new gadgets.  With mobile, you run into all kinds of problems with different hardware models, software compatibility, compliance, etc.  At a recent event, I discovered that the attendees had many different types of phones and software applications. Trying to exchange mobile contact information was sometimes more effort than it was worth.

Bottom Line

These new simple gadgets are creating new ways for event attendees to connect and share leads, exchange contact information and connect their social world to the real world. By giving all attendees the same technology (Belinkers, Pokens, MingleSticks or CrickITs) you are making sure that they are all working with the same business productivity tools.

What do you think?

image: courtesy of Busy Event

Reminder: I don’t receive any form of compensation for product reviews.

Game Changer For Small Events: Zerista’s Mobile Community Platform

Did you hear that Zerista launched a new mobile community for events last week? It could be a game changer for small events – giving them access to event technology that was previously too expensive.

This new mobile platform is a mashup of Ning, Eventbrite, Twitter and Foursquare for small groups. Plus, it has a self-service setup AND they are making it free for groups with less than 250 people.

Said another way: Zerista can do schedules, messaging, backchannel, take payments, support checkin, send invites, maps and browse member lists and probably other stuff, too.

Watch the video from the DEMO Conference last week to get an overview:

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iPad: It Just Works…But Will It Work For Events?

Today, Steve Jobs announced Apple’s latest product the iPad. For most of us “shiny object people” this was a much anticipated announcement.

Why?

Well – Apple products have been known to change the way that we interact with technology and experience life. Look at the iPhone, the iTouch, the itunes store and app store. These things have changed the way that hundreds of millions of people experience technology.

Also as was said many times today by Steve Jobs: It just works. When it comes to technology – everyone likes technology that just works.

What is so cool about the new iPad? Have a look for yourself. Here is a short video from Apple that explains everything.

Will It Work For Events?

Today, at events, we already have event applications built around laptops, mobile phones and purpose built devices. What if anything would the iPad be good for at an event?

Here are some event applications that popped into my head while watching the live announcement:

  • Larger Screen = bigger fonts = easier readability for all types of attendees (like baby boomers). This means that you could create e-versions of your Show Daily, conference guide and exhibitor guides. This would make it very easy to make an event paperless AND preserve your sponsorship revenue.
  • Incorporating Multimedia. There will be a clear opportunity to include multiple photos and video clips from the show floor in the e-versions of the Show Daily. Electronic Exhibitor guides could contain video demonstrations of products. Electronic Conference binders could contain speaker videos. The kicker? If you are recording sessions these sessions could be setup online and available for viewing/downloading on the iPad right away.
  • Interactive Demos. Today – interactive demos can be a challenge to run on the show floor. I think that we will see more and more interactive marketing companies creating demos, games, quizes, etc that get attendees engaged on the show floor (or in the streeet). These apps will help companies capture new leads, qualify them, and feed them into the CRM system right on the show floor. In my opinion, the iPad – as a hybrid of the iphone and the laptop – will be perfect for this type of application.
  • Agendas, One-to-One Appointments, and Personalized Agendas. Did you see the new calendar function? I think that someone will come up with an application for the iPad that creates personalized agendas for attendees, schedules appointments, etc. While the iPad frontend needs to be easy to use – the database, scheduling engine and reporting will be a powerful part of this solution.
  • Corporate Backchannel. With the powerful user interface and portability, I could see someone creating a corporate backchannel application that runs on the iPad. While any device could be used to enter comments into the backchannel – the iPad advantage will be in viewing all of the other comments on the backchannel and privacy. Corporates don’t want their internal discussions tweeted to everyone.
  • Speaker Q&A. I can see iPads sprinkled across the roundtables in a large conference room. Attendees can use them to enter questions for speakers, see what others asked, and maybe even rate/rank them. How cool would it be to rate questions for the CEO? Awesome!
  • Way-Finding. I can see people using the iPad GPS to figure out the best route to their next appointment on the show room floor or to another part of the center or to the off-site event this evening. (Note: GPS may not be accurate enough to find most 3X3 meter booths inside of a hall.)
  • Sponsorship.  There was a lot of screen real-estate for including innovative sponsorships – beyond banners. I am sure we will see some innovative digital sponsorship applications emerge.

A Word of Caution

  • Venue Wifi Sucks. enough said.
  • Devices For Each Person. For the situations where each attendee needs a device – IMO the purpose built device will be a better solution than a mobile phone or iPad type product. Why? The purpose built devices have return-me-now alarms. They have higher adoption rates. They come with private networks. Usually…they come with trained staff that know how to manage the technology across many different user types.

Bottom Line

The iPad is a new platform that will change the way that we experience events. Not necessarily – because of the ways that I suggested above.  I think the iPad’s biggest impact on events will come from showing attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and event organizers a new way to use technology and experience life.  As people get more comfortable with these new technology experiences they will start demanding similar types of experiences from their face-to-face events.

So – those are my first impressions. What do you think?

It just works….But will it work for events?

2010 Event Technology Shopping List Presentation

Here is the video from my 2010 Event Technology Shopping list presentation with Ruud Janssen at EIBTM on 1 December 2009.

For those of you stuck outside of the room on Tuesday, I am sorry that you were not able to attend live. Hopefully, this video is an acceptable substitute.

To set expectations – the video is not professional grade. We shot it with my home movie camera. So please excuse the camera position, video quality and the start. We missed the introductions and first ARS questions.

The video is 52 minutes long – so watch it with a fresh cup of coffee and a pastry!

Finally, I hope that you find some usable ideas that can be applied to your 2010 events. Enjoy!

Special thanks to Maarten Vanneste for operating the camera, getting a decent shot of the presentation and moderating the session. Without Maarten’s help, we wouldn’t have this video to share with you.

Worlds Are Colliding to Create New Opportunities for Events

Yesterday, my colleague Ruud Janssen and I delivered a presentation called the 2010 Event Technology Shopping List at EIBTM. I will post the slides and video soon. But, first I wanted to share some of the thinking that was at the heart of our work.

Worlds Are Colliding

Event Technology Worlds Are Colliding

The digital world and the face to face worlds are colliding and I see several new opportunities emerging for events. Yesterday, we tackled these four new opportunities that have emerged for events to use event technology to transform the event:

  • Extending the Meeting
  • Including More People
  • Improved Interaction
  • New Formats

Extending the Meeting

We have the opportunity to stretch event experiences from 1-2 days to several days, weeks and months. Rather than looking at the meeting as an isolated event – we can look at it as one point in a conversation stream. By using your digital touch points wisely, you can start relationships earlier and change the nature of the face-to-face interactions onsite. Webinars, webcasts, social networks and social media tools are some of the technologies making this possible.

Including More People

The people that come to your event are a subset of your event community. For one reason or another, there are some people that cannot come to your event. It has nothing to do with you, your program, the venue, the destination or the price – they just can’t come. Rather than ignore these “potential” attendees – the technology tools like the backchannel and live streaming help you include them in your event experience.

Increasing Interaction

Attendees are smarter than they have ever been. The gap between the experts on stage and the attendees in the audience has never been smaller. The collaboration tools that we have at our disposal have made it easier than ever to create this interaction. Equally important – there are a large number of audience response keypads, gadgets, handheld devices and mobile applications that put the power in the attendee’s hand and make it easier for you to engage them: Ask questions, collect ideas, vote, etc.

Alternative Formats

We still live in a world where good projects (meetings, marketing plans, etc.) are being cut in favor of better projects. Telepresence and Virtual Events are two event formats that have emerged as viable lost cost alternatives (or compliments) to full face-to-face events. While some face-to-face diehards may initially raise their noses at these two formats – I suggest that you take a closer look. I would prefer that you keep some options in your back pocket and fight for your projects – rather than accept defeat when the finance department and management want to cut your event.

Bottom Line

The collision between the digital world and the face-to-face world creates several new opportunities for events. By framing the discussion in terms of these new opportunities – you can strategically approach technology rather than look at it tactically.

That’s my take – what do you think?

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