Why low tech could be ready to blow

Do you prefer your event tech high or low?

I only ask, as there was quite an interesting moment at one of the education sessions at the SITE + MPI Global Forum in Rome.

Miguel Neves, founder and CEO of Social Media Chefs and former IMEX head of digital, led a session on trends and innovation in event technology.

A witty and engaging speaker, Neves deftly guided a packed room through the sometimes confusing tech landscape with ease.

His predictions included a move from “big data to smart data”, as well as adding his voice to the practically deafening chorus advising meeting professionals to get to grips with GDPR.

He revealed how smartphone use at events is set to expand even further, with handsets becoming personal remote controls capable of accessing more information. Influencer marketing is also set to increase, as is the growth in experiencing events through others, such as eSports.

Neves also sees email as ripe for change, saying: “Email is the lowest common denominator. We’re in a battle for notification. Our emails are not getting noticed because of all the email we get.”

People will increasingly look to other methods of communication to get people’s attention, such as WhatsApp and Workplace by Facebook, while chatbot use will rise, along with augmented reality and facial recognition.

However, it was Neves’ final prediction that stuck with me. With a disclaimer that it didn’t really fit in with the rest of his predictions, he said that there will be a rise in use of inflatables at events (pictured), before showing a time-lapse video of a plug-in inflatable that can create a brand new room in a venue in just five minutes.

Immediately Neves was met with a barrage of questions about the inflatable – how does it work, how much does it cost, how does it stay up? The murmur of interest that went round the room was palpable.

All of which got me thinking, that while the high tech wizardry of smartphones, chatbots and AR might be the things we’re meant to be excited about, it was clear that, on this occasion at least, it was the low tech blow-up option that the audience of event professionals really engaged with the most.

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