Which trends do you see becoming more mainstream over the next decade?

Anyone old enough to remember ‘Tomorrow’s World’, the BBC TV programme on developments in technology, will know how difficult it is to predict future trends. However, the ‘safe’ predictions are that technology will continue to shrink, becoming less expensive and better connected.

Although nothing beats a keyboard for text entry, touchscreens will become more sophisticated (starting with Force Touch on the latest iPhones). We’ll begin to see much more accurate voice control and even gesture controls.

Plus, the time has finally come for Augmented Reality (AR), which was heralded as ‘the Event Technology of the Future:
Insights for 2016 and beyond After learning all about the history of the industry in Event Technology of The Past, we were even more keen to find out what the future has in store for event managers. Will audience engagement continue to be a big trend? Which state-of-the-art technology will become a reality over the next decade at events and exhibitions? Kevin McFarlane – Product Development Director at the Concise London office – shares his predictions for the years to come. next big thing’ as far back as during the 1990s. It failed largely because the display hardware and processor performance were not advanced enough to give people a true perception of objects or a reality.

In the next few years, we could see AR and video streaming combine – along with Virtual Reality – to enable virtual meetings to take place with a mix of real elements (people) and augmented elements such as documents, presentations or product prototypes. It’s a really interesting possibility and one that I would personally love to pursue. 

Do you expect to see more and more people using mobile devices such as tablets or iPads at events? Is this a sustainable trend?

With the extensive proliferation of mobile devices, it’s inevitable that their use at events will increase. I believe this trend will continue until all delegates will expect to use tablet technology to consume content and interact at conferences. I think tablets and smartphones will be around for several years yet in a similar format to their current form. As this is essentially a less mature version of the laptop market, devices will get thinner, lighter and more powerful with each generation, while still retaining their core design and functionality.

A successor to tablet technology probably hasn’t been invented yet, but, in the mediumterm, wearable technology and flexible screens could likely become contenders. Even further ahead, I’d love to see holographic displays become commercially viable.

How does Concise keep up with technology developments? Which technologies that have already been adopted by Concise will be more widely used in the industry in 2016?

As a general rule, we never start with a technology – we start by listening to our clients to find out what problems they need to solve. Then, we see if there’s a technology that could help. With that said, we’re always researching the latest technologies that are coming to be adapted to our products. When the iPad rumours first started circulating, it was such a perfect fit for conferences that we began development of an event app some time before the iPad was available to buy. 

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Over the last year, we’ve been working with proximity-de tecting beacon s to provide delegates with location-relevant content as they move around a conference. We will also be tracking attendance at various sessions to help event organisers plan the structure of future conferences.

Will it be harder to meet audience expectations and engage attendees effectively in 2016?

The one constant in the events industry is that delegates’ expectations increase year on year. I don’t feel that 2016 will be any different in that regard; if anything, it’s actually becoming easier to engage attendees with some of the technologies we’re working on. There’s a big shift happening at the moment – events are becoming less passive. 

Delegates are interacting much more with the speakers and organisers – they are the ones driving the event. Whether this is through live feedback (e.g. polling or question submissions), or by personalising the content delegates can access or the meetings they attend, the structure of events is becoming much more flexible.

This results in a much more valuable experience for attendees. It does, however, present many challenges for organisers, challenges we need to meet by providing more sophisticated solutions to help enable that flexibility.

What kind of opportunities for improving event solutions will there be for conference organisers in 2016 and beyond?

There are three areas where I think we can add value over the next few years.

Personalisation. At the moment we can give delegates a personalised agenda, personalised content and personalised messages from the organisers direct to their iPad. We can go further than this, though, by enabling delegates to select and edit their own meeting sessions and the content they can view, and by facilitating more direct communication with the speakers.

Networking. We’ve provided forums and chat systems to delegates for some time now, but these should become more sophisticated as we provide more tools for delegates to make new connections and share information.

Event Duration. At the moment it’s still very much the case that delegates are invited to an event, they arrive and participate for a day or two, and then the event is over. Material may be sent to them after the event. At Concise, we offer post-event emails with personalised content as standard, but that effectively marks the end of the event. 

 

I think we’ll see this experience expanding so that the time you spend at the event is only part of the story. Pre-event apps and microsites will engage delegates much earlier, so they’re better prepared for the event itself. Keeping the content and delegate connections active post-event will benefit to everyone. That is the big challenge and is something we’re looking into closely. 

Delegates and event managers alike can be optimistic about what the future will bring for event technology. Exciting developments such as beacons and virtual reality will captivate and enthral attendees, transforming conferences and exhibitions into fulfilling , user focused experiences. Event planners will discover new challenges for their role, as more interaction increasingly shifts the balance of power from the management team to delegates. 

on-right third-widthYet, their role will also become simpler; apps to streamline check-in, agendas, post-event feedback and even networking arrangements will become more commonplace, empowering planners to focus on engaging attendees.If you’d like a futuristic finish for your conferences in 2016, Concise provide interactive app Chime and beacon technology solutions for live events to engage and impress delegates.

Please get in touch if you would like to learn more.