Crystal Ball or Crystal Bull – How Are We Doing on Our Predictions for 2014?
We’re nearing the half-way mark of 2014 so now is a good time to stand up and be counted as we see whether the predictions we made at the start of the year came to pass. We’re patting ourselves on the back somewhat as we were pretty near the mark with most of them – details below.
1. Organizers will be looking for joined up solutions
We foresaw the desire among clients for fewer vendors to provide more in the way of functionality and mentioned audience response as a stand-alone product that should be part of a larger event technology offering. And the response to our new Audience Response solution has been overwhelmingly positive. So, it does seem there is an appetite for the consolidation of functionality under a single solution.
2. Windows Phone will be the heir to BlackBerry
Recent figures from statcounter suggest that Windows has indeed swapped places with Blackberry – but both are significantly trailing Android and Apple in the smartphone market. However, channelnomics reports that industry analyst IDC expects Microsoft’s share of the market to grow steadily over the next four years but I’d have to say that the jury’s still out on that.
3. Event Wi-Fi will (finally) turn a corner
While there haven't been incremental improvements in Wi-Fi coverage, other technologies have emerged that might improve the situation. Apple’s iMesh technology enables a wireless device to act as a kind of relay, transferring internet access down the chain (read more about this here); and beacon technology is yet another way of providing connectivity – our Audience Response solution uses beacons to push content to attendees.
Exhibition centers do seem to be taking notice of the event Wi-Fi situation too, as Boston Convention and Exhibition Center have been the first venue to lead their advertising with their Wi-Fi credentials. So, the Wi-Fi outlook may still be cloudy, but there are silver linings out there.
4. Analytics and ROI will outweigh the WOW Factor
I think this still holds true, but the industry is still looking for ways to get the most from their attendee and event data. We’ll be publishing our views on the smart strategy for organizers to get the most from Big Data shortly, so watch this space.
5. Organizers will make more of their data
We said in January that organizers would focus more strongly on analysing data in a joined-up way and we are now working with one of our largest customers to aggregate different data types to gain a true picture of attendee behaviour. Expect a case study from us on this topic in the next couple of months.
6. Sponsorship sales will change to match the tech
We felt that sponsorship packages would be optimized and sales teams incentivised earlier in the process to make far more of the sponsorship opportunities available. The strong take-up of our recently published guide to ‘Marketing for Greater Uptake and Engagement’ suggests we are onto something!
7. Organizers will track attendees around an event
The proximity awareness of beacons now allows organizers to send information to attendees based on their location – and there has been a lot of buzz around their deployment at events. We expect beacon usage to escalate; although it is important that the privacy implications of this are properly understood and factored into their deployment.
8. Contactless transactions at events will increase
Mixed results on this – although we correctly predicted Apple would join the Near Field Communication (NFC) fold (this is heavily rumoured not officially confirmed as yet). Particularly at corporate events, NFC cards are being issued for registration, session entry, etc. However, event organizers are not rushing to make use of NFC capabilities on smartphones – this may change, especially if Apple chooses an existing standard rather than a proprietary system. Similarly contactless payments are growing – particularly in the Far East – but this is again much more around card usage than for devices.
9. There will be more consolidation in the event tech industry
This really is inevitable – partly a result of the growing maturity of the event tech industry but also driven by the desire of organizers to reduce the number of vendors they need to work with to pull an event together. Whether it is through strategic partnerships – like that between QuickMobile and Lumi late last year – or through direct acquisition, this is one trend that isn’t going to go away.
10. An increase in wearable tech
I think that this is perhaps one area where the hype has far exceeded the reality. I think that wearable tech will probably have its most significant impact in the medical world, but we’ve yet to see any real traction in the events industry.
So, there we have it. By my count, we got five absolutely right and were only out on one – and it’s too early in the race to call it for the other four.