Is technology changing the role of conferences? The EICC explains its view

In a world where faster is better and technology is bringing us ever-closer together, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre takes a look at how this is changing the role of conferences

Traditionally, conferences were unrivalled as the place for sharing ideas and learning from others, providing unique opportunities to disseminate knowledge, network and develop new ideas. Then, with the help of streaming platforms such as YouTube, conference content was made public. Reliable internet technology has enabled businesses to connect with peers around the world, providing alternatives to gathering in a single location.

The benefits of technology to conferencing speak for themselves with brands reaping massively from enhanced visibility – to paraphrase TED’s strapline, ideas worth spreading are being spread, more readily than ever before.
So where does this leave traditional conferencing?

1. The role of conferencing hasn’t changed, even if technology has

Despite the rise of digital conferencing, all events share a common role: to facilitate, teach, share and inspire.
Speed is everything in today’s world of work, so digital ‘attendance’ might seem to make logistical sense. But there’s a reason why conferences that are made digitally-available are, first and foremost, designed and delivered in-person. The most influential learning, sharing and inspiration plays out between people, not on a screen.

2. Communication begins in person

Research states that 55 per cent of communication is conveyed through nonverbal elements such as facial expressions, gestures and posture; 38 per cent through vocal elements; and just 7 per cent through actual words.
According to CEO of charity Linking the World, Mina Chang: “The beauty of communication is found in the nuance that’s only felt in face-to-face conversations.”
In-person meetings also tend to be more productive – almost 30 per cent more so. According to HubSpot, on average, remote meetings generate 10.43 ideas, while in-person meetings generate 13.36.

3. In-person conferencing has an exclusive and priceless element

We do business with people, not entities. Research indicates that successful managers spend 70 per cent more time networking than their less successful counterparts, so conferences, where like-minded people actively seek to converse, are the perfect environment for forging business relationships.

Speed dating-style networking brought together buyers and suppliers from across Europe at the M&I Forum at EICC

4. Long-lasting learning
Real personal development happens when you take time out of the office. The best conferences do for your professional development what travelling does for personal development.
Considering an organisation’s people are its greatest assets, surely business leaders should actively encourage such development.

5. In-person conferences are still the ultimate hotbeds of creativity
From the perspective of a delegate, a conference which facilitates learning, sharing and inspiration, provides opportunities to spark new ideas. An IBM survey of 1,500 CEOs showed that this creativity is considered the number one factor for business success – even above management, integrity and vision.

Edinburgh International Conference Centre

At the EICC, we frequently see what happens when people come together. We take pride in knowing that, within our walls, ideas are being shared that, once outside, could change the world.
We help organisers build networking into their conferences as an integral part of the process. Our technology, too, is dedicated to making sure our events are as relevant, accessible and impactful as possible.
You bring the people. We’ll create the environment to allow world-changing ideas to be sparked.
To start planning your next event at the EICC, contact the team on 0131 300 3333 or