Archive for the ‘Technology Adoption’ Category

Going Native: iPad use is on the rise and event planners see the advantages

January 9, 2013

It’s no surprise that attendees are using the iPad more than ever at conferences and meetings.  Apple sold 11.8 million iPads during the first quarter of 2012, according to apple.com.   The device is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing mobile technology products in history.

The platform of the iPad makes it a perfect choice for meetings.  The at-a-glance aspect, screen size, ease of use, portability and speed of device all contribute to its popularity.

“The increase in iPad usage at our clients’ events is dramatic,” said Wendy Phillips, vice president of sales and marketing for Gather Digital, a mobile event app company.  “In May 2011, the iPad represented 0.8 percent of mobile device usage at our corporate and association events,” she said.  “In May 2012, iPad usage had risen to 36.5 percent.”

Because of increasing iPad usage, meeting planners are becoming more interested in event apps that are native to the iPad.  “Planners know their event attendees are using iPads more and more,” Phillips said.  “And they want to give them a native app to offer the best possible experience.”

Having a conference app that is native to the iPad takes advantage of the faster syncing capability, the enhanced graphics and the larger screen size.  Going native also allows the ability to seamlessly use other applications, such as email, as part of the conference app.

Dr. Virginia Schmith, a clinical pharmacologist and chair of pharmacometrics with the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, generally attends three conferences per year and prefers using her iPad when an app is available.  She appreciates the note taking feature that some apps offer.  “Many times you have to write a trip report,” she said. “Taking notes in the iPad is faster than writing notes.”  Schmith used an app recently that also organized the notes by session and allowed her to email them to herself for printing or saving to her desktop computer.  “And the name of the session automatically shows up in the notes.  It probably saves an hour’s worth of time,” she added.

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, a meetings technology consultant and speaker is enthusiastic about the potential for iPads and tablet computers at events. “The instant-on, intuitive interface with screens large enough to manage documents, makes iPads and other tablet computers a natural for meetings and tradeshows. They provide benefits for all parties involved: attendees (rich media, interactive conference programs, networking and way-finding tools); exhibitors (for interactive kiosks, easier lead exchange systems, appointment scheduling and survey tools); hoteliers (an intuitive, portable sales tool); and meeting planners (paperless conference binders eliminating the need to carry around 4” thick, 3-ring binders full of paper).“

Ball feels that “mobile technology will likely change events more in the next five years than technology has in the last twenty years. We are in the golden age of app adoptions for events. Very soon, if you do not have an app for an event, attendees will wonder why the event is so behind the times.”

A good native app will allow the planner to have control of content, including images, text and corporate branding.  It should also offer sponsor opportunities within the app, high attendee usability with options like messaging, one on one meeting functionality, immediate schedule updates, maps, customized my schedules, note taking ability and a social media aspect, according to Phillips.

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Bonus Trend: 12+ Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: Face-to-face meetings and trade shows will remain vialble

December 7, 2011

©2011 Corbin Ball Associates

This is last in a series of 13 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows:

Bonus trend: Despite the economic downturn and the increased use of virtual meetings technology, face-to-face meetings and tradeshows remain viable (a repeat from last year’s predictions).

Virtual meeting and web conferencing usage is up and conference attendance has dropped for some markets in these economically challenging times. However, meetings and tradeshows can still provide very good value for your education, networking, and sales budgets. Events offer unparalleled opportunities to bring buyers and seller together, to build relationships, to brainstorm, to network. For an exhibitor, it is often the best way to meet so many qualified buyers in such a short time. For buyers, it is a great chance to meet vendors of interest – all together in one location, categorized and mapped for your choosing. The events, tradeshow and hospitality industries are relationship-based and events and tradeshow are some of the best ways to build these relationships.

Although webinars are good for short information exchange, meetings offer a much richer learning experience. What happens in the meeting room is important – people have made the commitment to be there and are not as distracted as in the office. However, the conversations in the hallways, receptions and exhibit hall contribute greatly to the information exchange. Meetings provide a vastly richer, more targeted, and more focused learning experience than any virtual meeting. There is no such thing as a “virtual beer!” 

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a consultant, writer and speaker focusing on events and meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity. He has been named by MeetingNews Magazine for four years as one of the “25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry. He has also chaired the judging committee for EIBTM Technology Watch for meetings technology innovation for the past eight years. He can be contacted at his extensive web site: www.corbinball.com and followed on www.twitter.com/corbinball.

10 of 12 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: iPads and tablets will provide a new medium for accessing data at events.

November 16, 2011

This is the tenth in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows:

10. iPads and tablets will provide a new medium for accessing data at events.

The iPad is the most recent of the long-running, game-changing innovations from Apple.  The Mac brought the widespread use of the mouse and graphical user interface to portable computing (1984); the iPod changed how we listened to music (2001); the iPhone revolutionized mobile phones  (2007), the App Store is changing the software procurement model (2008), and the iPad (2010)/iPad2 (2011) is having similar long-term ramifications.

The iPad and other tablet devices represent new ways to access information. Light weight, highly mobile, highly intuitive. The larger screen allow for bigger fonts, easier readability and more real estate to display material in a page-like format. The navigation is intuitive (with your fingers instead of a keyboard and mouse).

Tablets are a natural for events as our industry is a mobile one:

  • We do business away from our offices and from our “large screen” computers on a regular basis.
  • Most of us don’t carry around notebook computers at events for a number of reasons: weight, security, the inability to access easily while standing, etc
  • We constantly need to manage a wide range of data at events. For lack of a better way until now, much of these data have been in the form of paper.

Tablets will increasingly be used at events for interactive conference programs, course notes distributions, surveys, interactive exhibit floor plans, product displays, information kiosks, lead exchange, speaker Q&A, onsite blogging/social networking and more.

See more on the impact and benefits of iPads and tablets at: http://ow.ly/6jdGw

One of Twelve Technology Trends to Watch for 2012

September 16, 2011

©2011 Corbin Ball Associates

This is the first in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows.

The rate of technology change is increasing. Meetings and tradeshow technology continues to advance with technology products becoming better, cheaper and easier to use. Innovation is bubbling with new options. Here are some of the major meetings and tradeshow technology trends to watch for this coming year.

Trend 1: More free or low cost apps for events and trade shows

“Information technologies of all types are doubling in capability every year”

– Ray Kurzweil, Technology Pioneer and Futurist

Another way of looking Kurzweil’s observation is the cost for the equivalent technology is being cut in half every year. Web software development technology is much faster and easier than ever before. What used to take $100,000+ and a team of programmers weeks or months to do, can now almost be accomplished by a gifted teenager in his/her bedroom over the weekend.  Web services and application programming interfaces (programming standards allowing easy data sharing among websites) allow additional functionality to be added to a website or web software program in a vastly easier manner.  For example, an online registration program can work with Saleforce.com or other contact database simply and quickly without expensive and time consuming custom integration programming.

Consequently, many free or very low-cost web tools have emerged to help meeting professionals do their job better.  There are free online databases of meeting facilities (Cvent’ Supplier Network: http://www.cvent.com/en/solutions/event-planning-software.shtml); free exhibition floor plan/sales tools (Floorplangenie.com); a wide range of social media tools for promoting events (FacebookTwitterLinkedInYouTubeWordPressFlickrSlideshare, etc); free HD video conference tools (Skype and Google Hangout); free collaboration tools (docs.google.com and join.me); thousands of free or very low cost mobile travel and other apps to help meeting professionals and attendees, and much more. These are just a few examples. There are many more to come.

Eleven Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2011

September 16, 2010

The rate of technology change is increasing. Meetings and tradeshow technology continues to advance with technology products becoming better, cheaper and easier to use. Innovation is bubbling with new options. Here are some of the major meetings and tradeshow technology trends to watch for this coming year.

1. Web-based software increases meeting planning ease and options.

The web has been the driver for much of the technology change we have seen in the last decade. The days of shrink-wrapped, custom-installed meeting software programs are gone — they now delivered over the web. With the development of web services, a communication standard enabling different web programs to work together, the ability to exchange attendee, exhibitor, and member data has never been easier. Rich-internet applications are giving desk-top functionality to these programs. In short, the web is providing software for nearly every aspect of the meeting planning process in a manner that is cheaper and easier to use than ever before. See http://www.corbinball.com/bookmarks/ for 1400 categorized meetings technology products in 40 categories, most of them web-based, as examples.

2. Freeconomics – the rise of free or low cost meetings and tradeshow software is increasing.

Another benefit of the web software distribution is that it is more efficient than “shrink-wrapped” software. With the plummeting costs for data storage and bandwidth, the cost for web software delivery is going down as well. There are now many meetings and tradeshow technology products that are free (with ads or upselling as a business model) or substantially lower prices than they have been in the past. See http://bit.ly/atMwXp for many examples.

3. Mobile apps for meetings are exploding.

Mobile apps are hot! This 2010 has seen hundreds of new mobile phone apps benefiting meeting planners, attendees and exhibitors – and many more are in the pipeline! Smart phone “micro-computers” are increasingly being used for networking, lead exchange, electronic ticketing, way finding, audience polling, surveys, pocket programs, pocket exhibit guides, course notes/literature collection and much more. A new website www.meetingapps.com has come online to track them.  2011 will see many of these tools working into mainstream conference use and many new ones emerge. See http://bit.ly/bEQuqu for many examples.

4. Location-aware applications are finding their way to meetings.

A hot area in mobile development is location-based or geo-position based applications. In the context of meetings, attendees are business travelers who need way-finding information as well as location-based networking. There are many applications that can help with meetings:  Google Goggles (currently only for android phones) can help with identifying landmarks, restaurants and other places of business using photo recognition and augmented reality (a layering  of web information over a phone cam image based on GPS and compass data).

Foursquare and Gowalla are networking and social review mobile apps designed to encourage loyalty at restaurants, bars and other local businesses are beginning to be used at meetings. Specific business networking tools such as Sipity (www.sipity.com) using location-aware services have direct application to events. Facebook, the 800 pound gorilla has just entered into this space (http://www.facebook.com/places) and will likely have a major impact.

We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of location-aware services and augmented reality applications for meetings. These will have huge potential in the future.

5. iPad and tablet PCs displaying options for meetings and events will be increasingly used.

As the iPhone lead the way for a whole new genre of mobile phones, the iPad will lead the way for a wide range of touch-sensitive, tablet-like PCs in a wide range of formats. Dell, for example, is coming out with two “Streak” tablets with an Android operating system in 7” and 9” versions. The Microsoft booklet PC (two 7” touch screens that fold like a book) is another proposed option on the drawing boards. Several others are on the way.

These highly portable, easy-to-input-while-standing (or walking) tools will be a natural for meetings: for surveys, for lead qualifications, for interactive displays at booths, for meeting planners to access specification data, for attendees to view streaming event video, for distribution (and annotation) of session handouts for attendees, and for a larger-version of the hundreds of mobile apps currently being developed for meeting planners, attendees and exhibitors. Companies such as Quickmobile (www.quickmobile.com) have iPod meeting apps available (conference schedule, polling, course notes/transcriptions) in a very nice format. Ootoweb (www.ootoweb.com) has integrated its online registration with an iPad app allowing planners access to meeting status, documents, and attendees on the go.

6. HD video for hybrid meetings will bloom.

Skype newest 5.0 beta version provides 760p high definition video conferencing at no charge (as well as the ability for four simultaneous callers). This is just one way that HD will lead the way to jump in hybrid meetings and speakers presenting remotely at events.

The price has plummeted, and with increasingly more reliable internet connections, the reliability is good.

On the high-end, Starwood and Marriott hotels are building public telepresence suites to provide full-size, high definition face-to-face virtual meeting spaces for small groups to meet virtually in dozens of cites with more to come: http://bit.ly/QV7n7

7.  Social media is working into the mainstream for events.

Social media continues to be a huge driver for change at meetings. Meeting planners, attendees and exhibitors are all getting their feet wet, but most have not figured out how to integrate fully a social media strategy into their marketing mix.

This coming year will see increased usage of the “big 3” – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – for event marketing with efforts in increase attendee engagement before, during and after the event. Twitter in particular, with its 140-character limitation making it a natural for mobile use at events, will see continued growth.

Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) and other social media aggregators will be used increasingly as meeting professional try to manage multiple accounts more effectively.

This is an extremely dynamic and quick-changing field. It will not be surprising to see a new platform will emerge to take a strong position, merge with or unseat one or more of the ‘big 3.”

8. Online collaboration tools will begin to replace email as a primary project management tool for events.

Email was invented forty years ago, and as means of project management for meetings, is not efficient. It is interruptive, often incomplete, it is difficult to manage a stream of multiple conversations, and people are often not on the same page with document versions.

Meeting professionals need a better way of managing these data!

Wikis (collaborative websites) will emerge as much more efficient ways of tracking conference logistics and other details among geographically distributed meeting planners and suppliers. Free tools such as Google Docs will play a role as well as other web-based project management wikis.

9. Speaker and content management systems are being adopted.

There are many tasks in setting up programming for large events:

*   Sending out requests for speaker proposals
*   Speaker selection
*   Arranging programs into tracks
*   Collecting speaker information (bios, AV requirements, session handouts, photos)
*   Providing presentation visuals onsite in multiple locations with multiple presenters.
*   Distributing session handouts
*   Capturing/redistributing presentations (video/audio/presentation visuals) at meetings
*    And more…

Historically, each of these has been a separate task, each with lots of data management required.

Fortunately, there are a number of companies (including Content Management Inc. www.cmcgc.com, OmniPress www.omnipress, One World Presentation Management www.owpm.com and others) that combine most or all of these tasks under a unified system greatly increasing the efficiency.

With the increased ease of networking in large convention venues, these systems will become standard operating procedures for large, multi-session events

10. Strategic meetings management and ROI measurement is expanded and refined to improve meetings.

Strategic meetings management programs (SMMP) have been used historically by large corporations to reduce meeting spend by using tighter controls on procurement of sleeping rooms, meeting space and other meeting services.

There is good news along this front:

·         There are several companies who are developing web-based SMMP tools with a range of pricing models (including Certain Software www.certain.com, Cvent www.cvent.com, and SignUp4www.signup4.com).  The increased competition in this field will provide better meeting procurement tools at lower costs to a wider range of companies and associations – not just for the ‘Fortune 500’ anymore.

·         SMMP programs are being refined. It is no longer just about reducing meeting spend. There is work using Lean Six Sigma framework (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Sigma) to improve the business process. Originally designed for manufacturing, this process focuses on increasing efficiency by reducing waste, rework, and activity that does not add value to increase value added activity.

·         The communication pathways set up to track meeting spend and also be used to measure and track meetings ROI (return on investment). Additionally, ROI measurement tools are being offered with pricing tiers for small meetings and event on an individual attendee basis. For example, MeetingMetrics (www.meetingmetrix.com) has just introduced MyROI designed to provide attendees measurement tools to track their personal return on investment from meetings attended.

11. Despite the economic downturn and the increased use of virtual meetings technology, face-to-face meetings and tradeshows remain viable (a repeat from last year’s predictions).

Virtual meeting and web conferencing usage is up and conference attendance is down in these economically challenging times. However, meetings and tradeshows can still provide the best value for your education, networking, and sales budgets. Events offer unparalleled opportunities to bring buyers and seller together, to build relationships, to brainstorm, to network. For an exhibitor, it is often the best way to meet so many qualified buyers in such a short time. For buyers, it is a great chance to meet vendors of interest – all together in one location, categorized and mapped for your choosing. The events, tradeshow and hospitality industries are relationship-based and events and tradeshow are some of the best ways to build these relationships.

Although webinars are good for short information exchange, meetings offer a much richer learning experience. What happens in the meeting room is important – people have made the commitment to be there and are not as distracted as in the office. However, the conversations in the hallways, receptions and exhibit hall contribute greatly to the information exchange. Meetings provide a vastly richer, more targeted, and more focused learning experience than any virtual meeting. There is no such thing as a “virtual beer!”

___________________

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a consultant, writer and speaker focusing on events and meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity. He has been named by MeetingNews Magazine for four years as one of the “25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry. He has also chaired the judging committee for EIBTM Wordwide Technology Watch for meetings technology innovation for the past seven years. He can be contacted at his extensive web site:www.corbinball.com

2010: The Meetings Technology Revolution – Are We There Yet???

March 3, 2010
I recently attended a concert in the small city where I live, Bellingham, WA. Before the music began, I noticed a teenage daughter, mother and grandmother sitting in front of me. I heard a phone ring and watched the 70+ year-old grandmother reach into her purse to for her iPhone. She adroitly answered the call and then, as an afterthought, used the phone to take a picture of her family members before turning off the ringer and putting it back into her purse.

This brief observation got me thinking.

I have said many times over this course of my career that technology needs to be easy enough for your grandmother to use in order for it to be fully adopted into the business process.  Ease of use is THE key to adoption!

The question arose as I watched the grandmother user her iPhone, have we finally arrived in terms of using technology? Has technology become pervasive enough and easy enough to use, that society has made it over this adoption hurdle? Are we there yet???

Society’s Technology Adoption:

Society is making progress in this digital revolution to adopt technology:

  • Most people in business in the industrialized world have broadband internet access, a website and an email address.
  • The mail box has given way to the email box… the yellow pages have given way to web pages… classified ads have given way to Craig’s List.
  • Most people have text-enable mobile phone at the minimum and an increasing number (especially business travelers) have web-enabled “smart” phones.
  • These smart phones are quickly morphing into “widgets” (wireless internet devices for geo-positioning, ecommerce and telecommunication) far more capable than mere “telephones.”
  • Computers have become much easier to use than just a few years ago. What once was “plug and pray” now truly has become “plug and play.” Many applications are web-based and easier to use.
  • Google is the first stop for research for many or most people in the industrialized world.
  • More than 350 million people are using Facebook – if it were a country it would be the third largest country in the world behind India and ahead of the United States.
  • Television has gone digital – one more step in the convergence of all data to IP (internet protocol) based systems.

In general, the technology infrastructure (broadband, the web, computers, mobile phones) has been built.  Applications have become easy enough that most people (even grandmothers) can use them and society is adopting quickly many of these new technologies. 

Meeting Professionals’ Adoption:

The meetings industry has not been especially known for its early adoption of technology. However, things are changing rapidly.

Here is where we are now:

  • Online registration has become commonplace.
  • Online housing is common for meetings, especially for large, multi-property room blocks events.
  • Speaker management tools are used by many associations for their large, multi-session conferences.
  • Exhibition management and show floor plan applications are widely used – especially for the larger tradeshows.
  • Web-based video and web conferencing tools have become easy to use, inexpensive and reliable adding virtual meetings as another tool in the meeting planner’s tool chest.
  • There are hundreds of applications to help manage web sites, scheduling, banquet seating, event logistics, procurement, site selection, surveys/audience polling, travel and more. Increasingly these are being incorporated into the business process of running events.
  • Hundreds, if not thousands, of mobile phone applications are emerging to make meetings more efficient for planners, suppliers and attendees.
  • Meetings planners are beginning to use social media tools to connect with suppliers, attendees, exhibitor and other stakeholder to manage, market and improve events.

Where do meeting professionals need still need to go with technology adoption?

Despite these advances, we still have a ways to go. Here are some key steps that must be done for this technology revolution to be fully implemented.

  • Eliminate nearly all paper in your office: One of the quickest ways to identify organizational inefficiencies it to look for the paper, and work out digital methods to manage these data. Paper (and flat files such as Word/Excel) are still central to many meeting planners processes: especially for event logistics and supplier procurement. Paper and Word docs are terrible ways of storing, using and sharing event logistics data! Alternatively, web-based processes for planning tasks can put everyone one the same page.
  • Eliminate nearly all paper at your events: Meetings and tradeshows have historically been awash with paper onsite as well (for programs, exhibit guides, exhibit brochures, course notes, and others). Technology can provide more efficient ways of accessing and transporting these data, it will help reduce the environmental footprint as well.
  • Eliminate email as a significant logistics communication tool for events: Invented 40 years ago, email is interruptive, non-threaded, and inefficient – especially for tracking the thousands of details surrounding events. Wikis (online, collaborative websites) and new collaboration tools such as Google Wave can provide all documentation sequentially in the same place and are much richer and more efficient ways to sharing meeting data.
  • Meetings technology companies should step up to the plate and incorporate APEX standards for meetings logistics: Millions of dollars have been spent and tens of thousands of people have met in working groups to develop meeting industry standards. Yet, APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange from the Convention Industry Council) standards are not fully implemented (especially in the very time-consuming process of exchanging event logistics data).  The meetings technology companies must step up to the plate to provide the connecting tools to make this happen. The CIC should not be the technology developer or provider and should emphasize the open nature of standards allowing all technology companies to participate. Both planners and suppliers need to push for standards with their technology suppliers.
  • Figure out social media and use them to engage attendees and improve event content: Meeting professionals are just getting their toes wet with social media. There are huge opportunities for meetings to use the wide range so social media tools (social networking, video sharing, slide sharing, blogs, podcasts, social review sites, social calendaring, social bookmarks sites and more) to engage prospective attendees before/during/after an event. They can be used to market, design and manage events. They can be used to make better purchasing decisions. This drastic change from business as usual will feel uncomfortable to many, but, like it or not, this is the direction things are going.
  • Transform your event website (and other sites) from Web 1.0 (static) to Web 2.0 (interactive): Meeting attendees and association members will increasingly expect the ability to interact with you online… to respond to blog posts, to make suggestions for meeting content, to engage with speakers, to consume a variety of content, on their terms when and how they want it.  Associations are among the original means of networking. Meetings are the original social media. Social media tools at your website are a natural fit.
  • Embrace mobile technology: Mobile devices, a huge emerging force for meeting technology change, will be used for registration, micropayments, lead exchange, way-finding, surveys, ticketing, networking, audience polling, and more. Move your company toward the adoption of these tools for events

The benefits of this technology revolution include more efficient and less expensive meetings with greater impact. As we move into a decade where technology infrastructure has been built and technology is easy enough to use that your grandmother can do it, we need to take these final steps to fully digitize our business processes. Digital Darwinism is alive and well and the “race” for meetings and tradeshow business will often go to those who use technology to be nimble, reduce cost and provide superior customer service.  We’re not quite there in terms of full digital adoption, but we are making progress.

©2010 Corbin Ball Associates