While out doing work around the house during a recent and lovely Oregon Spring Day, I finally got around to taking down our old newspaper box – it’s been over five years since we stopped delivery of the Oregonian newspaper. I was a little sad as I thought about our neighbors who worked at the once robust Oregonian for over 30 years but left several years ago as the paper “right -sized”. Like many disrupted folks in disrupted industries, they kind of saw the change coming but didn’t do enough to get ahead of it. It was traumatic for them but they’ve since pivoted into other careers and are doing fine. It made me think about change and “disappearing acts” and how they relate to event technology.
There’s an old adage that states that the only thing that’s constant is change. And I think that technology in many ways is a catalyst for change, and these days maybe even a partner in a never ending cycle. The meetings industry is experiencing a great deal of change and disruption and much of it is being led by technology.
Case in point – often the biggest reasons to attend meetings is for engagement, education and collaboration. But using technology, companies are creating more ways for people to collaborate and more options for learning and engagement. True, face to face meetings have in some ways grown in importance as we strive for deeper ways to connect. But in other ways face to face meetings are easy to replace and less expensive. Is it really necessary or cost effective to go to that four day conference and trade show? Couldn’t you get better results staying home, attending some webinars for the education you’d receive, investing in some targeted marketing, and doing personal visits to your top customers?
These are the types of questions that planners would do well to start asking, and to engage the technologies that can help them answer those questions, lest they and/or their events become another “disappearing act”. What ROI are we offering for our participants and how can we improve it? How can we improve engagement ? How can we reach a broader audience and increase attendance? How can I get more done on dwindling resources? (Hint: Some great companies listed on the EventTechGuide can help: CadmiumCD, CTI, Hubb.me, Feathr.co, Eventpedia, EventSPRING, AnyEvent App).
And planners need to lead the charge in getting behind change. In his book “What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences” author Brian Solis says:
“The customer journey is still evolving. How businesses react and ultimately lead the enhancement of relationships is not solely determined by technology though. To truly get closer to customers takes a culture of customer-centricity, empowerment and innovation.
Saying that we need to get closer to the customer is hardly enough to convince business leaders that the customer revolution they hear about is literally steps away from their office door. To break through requires that someone (read: you) has to make the case to bring change from the top down.
The future of business isn’t tied to the permeation of Facebook, Twitter, iPhones and Droids, pins on Pinterest, apps or real-time geolocation check-ins. The future of business comes down to relevance and the ability to understand how technology affects decision-making and behavior to the point where the recognition of new opportunities and the ability to strategically adapt to them becomes a competitive advantage.
Among the greatest difficulties associated with change is the ability to recognize that change is needed at a time when we can actually do something about it. All too often, by the time we realize that change is needed and that we must shift to a new way of thinking, it is already too late. Or worse, competitors recognize the need for change before us, and we are by default pushed into a position where our next steps are impulsive or reactive rather than strategic.”
Another old adage: You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. Be part of the solution. Better yet – be the solution.