Most event profs would agree that our industry tends to be on the slower side when it comes to adopting new technologies. Largely this is about risk aversion in terms of event execution, however, there are also times when we can be too eager to adopt tech that hasn’t yet reached its full potential. As a result, we are actually creating three additional risk pools for meeting technology:
Using outdated or low-functioning technology
Bringing in things that are shiny, but ultimately superfluous
Fixing something that ain’t broke
All of these mistakes can cause attendees to perceive event hosts and exhibitors as “out of touch” or “un-savvy” and put relationships at risk. Instead, the technology we’re implementing should always be evaluated on how well it serves its purpose and lives up to expectations.
In our new ‘Event Technology: Quit, Skip or Keep?’ series, I’ll review three technologies that fit into each of the risk pools mentioned above. This time, I’ll be discussing augmented reality, 3-D content, and super simple event apps.
Why, oh why am I still being asked to put on some weird glasses in a trade show booth, or in a general session and stare at a screen to watch some content that is generally made WORSE by trying to pop out at me?
Unless you are an IMAX movie about zombies, robots or outer space, this is a bad idea. Pretty much every LCD HDTV ever built has 3-D capabilities, but I bet you can count how many times you have watched 3-D content on zero hands.
For an actual immersive experience, try making some 360 degree content and pair it with a Samsung VR or similar headset. You can even do this from your iPhone, try it! You may be tempted to try and make that content 3-D. Again, unless you are James Cameron, you will do a bad job, and it will add very little to the experience and a TON to your budget.
SKIP: Augmented Reality (AR) Applications Reason: Shiny, but ultimately superfluous
Someday, AR will be legit — but ONLY when it is integrated into normal looking glasses (i.e, not Google Glass). Right now, pretty much every AR event application has people literally walking around with their phones in front of their face, waiting for something to happen… but the thing only happens on their phone!
Plus, the thing that happens on their phone is usually not very cool. “Ohhh, your logo is spinning,” or “ohhh, there’s a cat on a table that isn’t really there.” And again, it only happens on your phone. Why is that cool?
I know that Pokemon Go made everyone go nuts because Pokemon showed up, but trust me, this is not going to add a lot of strategic value OR wow factor to your event — at least not yet. Also, do you want people to be staring at their phones any more than they already are at your event? You may have a good niche or idea for this, but for me, it’s a skip for now.
KEEP: Super Simple Event Apps Reason: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
I know you can get a ton of cool bells and whistles for your event app. I know they promise to improve networking, increase engagement, simplify social media, monitor your blood pressure, be a game and create world peace. Do you know what they are actually supposed to do? Function better than a piece of paper at telling you what the schedule is and where you’re supposed to be.
So, when the sphygmomanometer feature on my event app doesn’t work, I am not surprised. However, when I can’t get a list of sessions, or when I carefully make a personalized schedule and my app seems to disavow all knowledge of that schedule, I start to get upset.
Event apps are wonderful, and they are aptly compared to a swiss army knife in terms of their multi-function capabilities. That being said, the more gadgets you add to the swiss army knife, the bulkier it is, and the less you want to carry it around in your pocket. Make sure your knife cuts like a pro before you worry about the tuning fork that you will never use anyway.
In the end, make sure whatever event tech you’re considering is actually serving your event’s goals and not simply on-hand because it’s new and flashy. In the same way, we need to know when to retire tech that is no longer up to snuff or is being widely overused. For more insight on what event technology to quit, skip or keep, check back in for the next installment later this fall!
Have other tech you’d like to see featured in future posts? Hit me up on Twitter! – @Phil_Hamstra