Impact Publications : MiceBTN_58
MICEBTN - FEBRUARY 2015 • Page 17 MICEBTN - FEBRUARY 2015 • Page 17 Teenagers today sit side by side using social media to ‘talk’.... Technology is a two-edged sword – will it be the saviour or executioner of businesses and events? By Darren Edwards TECHNOLOGY has long assisted event managers plan and helped speakers deliver their presentations at events, but combined with social change, it now impacts the way delegates and princi- pals interact before, during and after meetings. Let’s face it: Gen Ys and Zs are taking control of our businesses and events. They demand and are receiving faster, more interactive events. They want ac- cess from wherever they are, at a time they choose, rather than sit in a plenary hall and listen to so-called experts, hand- picked by event organisers, presenting information that can be referenced quicker on line. Technology in young hands is both challenge and opportunity. Remem- ber the time when school kids weren’t allowed to use calculators? When faxes were cutting edge? Remember the record companies who didn’t believe CDs would be the way of the future and then later, the CD manufacturers who thought iTunes was a fleeting fad? Today, tech-savvy event managers use social media, event apps, collaborative networks, discussion groups, branded channels, web casting, digital post- ers, live streaming, hybrid and virtual technology to maximise attendance and involvement. Those who miss the oppor- tunity to exploit these new tools could well be left wondering what happened to their businesses. So what will the future hold? Most commentators say face-to- face events will endure because social interaction is a basic human need, but they also tend to agree it could be an on line or virtual experience, so which is true? Probably both are. Think of a recent conference or exhibition you attended. At the sessions, how often did you actually interact face-to-face with industry peers? Did you browse the web while listening to a speaker either to find if they were at the cutting edge - or even if what they were saying was true? Well, Gen Y and Z do this now and once they’ve learned how to do it, they quickly suss out they don’t have to sit in a hall, listening. Perhaps future events will offer in- teractive hybrid and virtual solutions so that participants (no longer attendees) from any industry can search on line for topics that they are interested in. As participants, they will use technology to actively contribute to discussions – if they want to. Engagement in this way will offer a more targeted and engaging experience to all participants and pro- duce networking possibilities unheard of in today’s events. We will be able to attend live, on line or virtually, in real-time or as recorded web-casts. During a session, we will have the ability to ‘virtually’ break out into on line discussion groups then return to the session where we left off and then contribute to it. We already connect through FaceTime, Skype, video conferencing and so on, technologies that will increasingly be used in future meetings. If you want to see how the future looks, drop into any hotel or cafe. You’ll find young people of both sexes communicating with each other via social media even though they’re only inches apart. While we might view this exchange as ‘unsociable be- haviour’, the reality is that it represents a highly social and meaningful means of communication and is a symbol of the future of society, businesses and events. Future generations will have access to more information, they will process and develop it faster, will form and share better-researched opinions more easily and will drive change in businesses and events. It is up to today’s management to un- derstand the future and embrace social change. Otherwise we’ll see the next generation of leaders take their technol- ogy, knowledge and event participation elsewhere. About DArren eDwArDs Darren Edwards is the founder of Invisage Creative Services in Australia. With more than 20 years’ experience and knowledge in the meetings and events industry, he drives creativity in events and the way they are run. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Young people communicate with each other via social media even though they’re only inches apart. ...