Technology a Featured Topic at PCMA’s Convening Leaders

January 19, 2014

Technology moved from the periphery of last year’s Professional Convention Management Association’s Convening Leaders and became a featured topic at this year’s event held last week in Boston.

Not only was there an education track specifically for technology, but also it was given its own stage in what was known as TechCentral.

TechCentral was a hub of activity throughout the conference. Attendees kept technology vendors busy with hands on demos of some of the newest technology available for planners, as well as some old standbys.

Attendee and panelist, Allison Green, urban planning student at Harvard, was very excited about one bit of technology demoed in TechCentral, which was OLE: On Location Engagements. OLE uses beacons to deliver targeted information and video content directly to attendees’ smartphones.

There was also an active TechBar, modeled after Apple’s Genius Bar, where attendees could get tips and tricks for their own devices. Some of the assistance being given included tricks for smarter ways to use your tablet, productivity apps and how to get started on Twitter.

Mini learning sessions, called TechBytes, took place throughout each day in an intimate area set off in a corner of TechCentral. These were quick sessions created to give attendees specific skills and knowledge they could then take back to their team.

The Meeting Pool, an info hub on event technology, social media and apps for event professionals, collaborated with PCMA on TechByte sessions and TechBar.

"I'm super excited about how TechCentral and especially the TechBar were received at Convening Leaders this year. Our team at The Meeting Pool shared the same vision as PCMA's educational team when they thought of this amazing concept from day one,” said Meeting Pool CEO and Founder Dahlia El Gazzar.

She added, “We wanted to deliver a focused area at the conference that gave attendees, no matter planner or supplier - or supplanner, a look into the technologies, trends, and practical ways they can use apps for their everyday lives. Tech doesn't have to be overwhelming, and we have a way of helping with that."

Michelle Bruno delivered one of the TechByte sessions on trends she expects to hit our industry in the very near future. Trends mentioned included the collaborative economy (think Uber and Airbnb), location-based technologies, and social discovery networking apps.

Another feature of the TechCentral area was the Tech-Central Stage. Set up theater style, this is where the more cerebral education was taking place. Topics being presented included the incorporation of mobile and wireless technology into meetings, global trends and how to get started with hybrid meetings.

Technology also was being talked about outside of the Tech Central area, and big data was first on the agenda. Hilary Mason, Data Scientist in Residence at Accel Partners, presented as part of the Master Series presented on Data-Driven decision making where she presented on best practices in organization data usage.

Kristian Hammond, founder of University of Chicago’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Northwestern University’s Intelligent Information Laboratory (InfoLab) discussed humanizing data by transforming it into clear and compelling stories, allowing planners to create relevant experiences for their attendees.

Sinan Aral, David Austin Professor of Management and Associate Professor of IT and Marketing at MIT, talked about social influence networks and how ideas spread, giving attendees insights into how to effectively reach attendees in a world where everyone is inundated with constant messages.

David Pogue, Yahoo! Technology columnist and CBS news correspondent gave an entertaining talk on disruptive technology. Pogue discussed how technology is changing the meetings industry. Some of the changes included Web 2.0, where your audience generates your content, a re-definition of privacy and a future where everything is available on-demand.

As far as technology being used at this year’s PCMA Convening Leaders, what stood out to Naomi Freidman, meetings planner at American Statistical Association, was the iPad version of the event app. Freidman said it had everything she wanted including the schedule of sessions, and she could use her favorite social media channels from within that event app itself.

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