Michael Douglas, business development director, GenieConnect - an event participation solutions provider for the events industry - has released his top 10 predictions for the event technology industry in 2014.
1. Organizers will seek integrated solutions -As technology becomes more prominent within the event industry, customers will have higher expectations of the services that their suppliers provide, and seek integrated solutions for registration, online mapping, mobile apps and audience response.
2. Windows Phone will be the heir to BlackBerry - While many consumers are using iPhone and Android devices, corporate IT departments have been much slower to progress. This is partly because of the high security risk they attribute to iOS and Android platforms, and will see Windows Phone as a way to retain control of corporate networks, in a user-friendly manner. Gartner reports a market share increase of 2.3% to 6.3% from 2012 to 2013. Thus, there will be a higher requirement to cater for Windows Phone with native event apps for the best user experience.
3. Event Wi-Fi will turn a corner - Venues will begin to see fit-for-purpose Wi-Fi as a competitive edge, and those that can guarantee it for large events will see a great increase in business. Exhibition organizers will begin to see that exhibitors will only attend shows that can cater for their needs, forcing them to employ companies such as MaxWifi and SmartCities to provide temporary networks.
4. Analytics and ROI will outweigh the 'WOW' Factor - New and exciting technology and ideas will always have a role at certain meetings, but for the mainstream, organizers will be now be looking for solid results and returns from the recent wave of technology, before investing money in the next innovations.
5. Organizers will utilize their data better -As organizers become more aware of how to use attendee participation data, more of a focus will be placed upon building registration, web and mobile solutions in an integrated way so that businesses can obtain insight into events and attendee behavior. Data will drive future improvements and facilitate personalization across the event cycle.
6. Sponsorship sales will adapt to meet the opportunities technology provides - There are many targeted and innovative ways in which to monetize event technology, aside traditional sponsorship activity. However, technology is often decided upon late in the event cycle, and so a 'Mobile App Sponsor' may end up being the extent of what is sold. As organizers begin to understand their potential, sponsorship packages can be optimized and sales teams incentivized earlier on in the process.
7. Organizers will track attendees movement around an event - Indoor positioning systems could lead the way at events, allowing organizers to personalize push messages and notifications for every attendee. New sensor technology developments are starting to allow tracking within an indoor location, sending notifications about sessions nearby, and other useful information, improving attendee experience and return on investment.
8. Contactless transactions at events will increase -Near Field Communication (NFC) is set to be commonplace at UK events in 2014. It is a growing technology that allows smartphones, tablets and similar gadgets to connect via a radio connection.GSMA are already using NFC to provide un-manned check-in points for registration, access to maps, exhibitor details, feedback services and much more. NFC is becoming a growing trend in contactless payments, and as Apple are yet to join list of manufacturers who have implemented the functionality - we predict that in the next coming years they will join this contactless movement.
9. There will be more consolidation in the event technology industry - The event technology industry will continue to consolidate through acquisition and strategic partnerships. Increasingly established players have moved slowly and found that there are holes in their solutions, this will open up interest in buying niche players as new technologies come to the market.
10. An increase in wearable technology - Wearable technology, such as Google Glass, Samsung Smart Watch and Apple iWatch, is likely to grow; both in terms of the number of devices available and the adoption the technology. For event organizers, this is a considerable development, as it will result in an increase in smart devices to contact their attendees with via push messages and collect more intelligent.