Look how far we’ve come

The rate of technology change is mind boggling, accelerating with many thousands of ideas, apps and innovations emerging to help us do our jobs and serve our clients better.

We live and work in exciting times. The first text message (Merry Christmas) was sent on 3 December 1982, (it took another year before a reply could be sent), and now eight trillion texts are sent annually. Tomorrow is going to be nothing like yesterday.

Last year, Corbin Ball, CMP CSP gave a presentation at the UfI Conference in Cape Town. Do yourself a favour and have a look at his website (, especially the ‘13 Meetings Technology Predictions’ article. I’m not going to repeat ‘parrot fashion’ all 13, but highlight a few.

#1: Meetings technology will continue to get cheaper and easier to use. This is music to my ears. Cloud computing is here, although interconnectivity still poses a challenge sometimes. Most of us are using Dropbox, Google Apps etc. Many users make the development cost and running costs ‘cheap’. Running registration software for as little as US$20 (R169.52) a month is a reality.

#2: The iPads and tablets will make paperless conference binder a reality. Last month at a social meeting of some of the South African CMPs, this was a topic of discussion over pizza and refreshments. What’s interesting, indeed startling, is that two of the eight (25%) meeting planners indicated that they were organising meetings based on iPads and tablets, rather than paper, within the next six months.

#6: Event Wi-Fi problems will get worse before getting better. This is being driven by expectations growing much faster than installations. This rings true. We ourselves have an event this year that requires the capacity to allow for 800 simultaneous connections. This is based upon the organiser aiming to meet the expectations of the delegates, exhibitors and other stakeholders. The standard venue connectivity will not meet this requirement.

#7: New indoor positioning options will provide better event and exhibition indoor way finding and mapping. This one I have highlighted because through the potential of improving the ROI for exhibitors the organiser can introduce differential pricing to specific stand positions based upon flow patterns. This is nothing new to the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector. The layout of a retail outlet is scientifically designed where nothing is done accidentally and everything has a purpose based upon consumer behaviour. So, the design of an exhibition stand or the overall exhibition can follow similar principles. Such information and methodologies are considered a trade secret. Through technology, these secrets are about to be unlocked allowing the exhibition industry to learn from the FMCG sector.

#13: Despite the increased use of virtual meetings technology, face-to-face meetings and tradeshows will remain viable. This is clearly good news for us. While webinars and virtual meetings continue to increase in number and participation, no one can dispute the value of one-on-one interaction through formal exhibiting and the informal networking opportunities that these provide.

That being said, the traditional exhibitions and meetings of yesterday are evolving rapidly, so it’s time to brush up on the new technologies and ensure they’re included in your preparations.

Tomorrow is here.