New Meetings Innovation Trends Highlighted with EIBTM's 2011 Technology Watch.
By Corbin Ball, Chair of the EIBTM Technology Watch Judging Committee
Wednesday, 30th November 2011
The EIBTM Technology Watch is the most significant and longest running technology award in the meetings and tradeshow industries.

The goals are to recognize technology innovation and to highlight significant trends impacting meeting planners, attendees and exhibitors at events.

The winner and four finalists for were selected from a record 56 applications. Seven judges with experience in the meetings industry and technology but not currently selling any technology product scored the entries based on innovation, completeness of concept, and the potential value to the meetings industry.

The companies selected highlight several paths of technology including progress for events Near Field Communication (NFC), precise indoor positioning/way finding, mobile event applications, and innovative data analytics onsite using tablet devices and much more.

This year's EIBTM Technology Watch award winner for meetings technology innovation goes to ITN International for its Citywide Attendee Credential System. This creative, yet inexpensive use of NFC (near field communication) allows the attendee name badge to be used as a transit and city tourist attraction pass as well.

In addition if enables attendee tracking, access control and exhibitor lead retrieval. Successfully implemented in Amsterdam, this represents a creative city partnership to make a destination more attractive and convenient for conference attendees while providing metrics on the economic impact of the meeting to a host city. ITN has been a pioneer in the use of NFC for events, and this entry was deemed by the judging panel to highly original and beneficial to event planners, meeting destinations and to event attendees.

Additionally, four finalists were included by the judging committee pointing out additional significant technology trends:

Wifarer (wifarer.com) has refined existing Wi-Fi systems within a venue to pinpoint a smartphone's location to an accuracy of 1.3 meters. This "indoor positioning system" can provide very precise wayfinding for attendees though a meeting venue or exhibit hall, while providing location-aware content delivery and aggregated attendee movement analytics.

Genie Connect (genie-connect.com) provides a high quality, yet easy-to-use, "do-it-yourself" mobile app development tool for events. The menu of application choices is very robust and they are delivered as native apps to iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, WindowsPhone and as a mobile web site. The DIY model enables at a lower price point than commonly found in these products as well as unprecedented control of the app content.

Active Network (activeevents.com) ActiveEvents Insight points to the increasing power of tablet computers at events. This comprehensive suite of mobile and tablet applications gives the event organizer unprecedented real-time access to registration data, lead retrieval, social networking, exhibitor management, session tracking and scheduling tool, event mobile app usage, housing, financial statements, speaker resources and content management on an iPad and other mobile devices.

Triqle Event Intelligence (triqle.eu) "What's On?" is a simple and inexpensive idea – to publish real-time event program data to any device with and internet connection allowing attendees to see at a glance what is going on now and next. This eliminates the need for scrolling or searching the most current program item. The price for the "Do It Yourself" model is €69/year for unlimited events or attendees and goes up for full service options. 

Other trends shown:

With the large number of entries, the Technology Watch is also a good way tracking events technology development trends. Here is a breakdown by category of the entries sorted by the number of entries in that category. The total number will be higher than 56 as some entries fit more than one category:

No. of entries / Product type

7: Mobile event app: Do-it-yourself/low cost/single purpose

6: Mobile event app: multi-purpose (Swiss-army knife products)
6: Webcasting, hybrid events or virtual events

5: Attendee management and/or ticketing 
5: Paperless literature distribution

4: Electronic content management/digital signage and info distribution
4: Sourcing management/E-shopping cart for events services

3: Electronic Poster boards
3: Near field communication products

2: Business networking/matchmaking
2: Event logistics management
2: Precise geo-location/way-finding:
2: Tablet/iPad event management

1: Collaboration – Group facilitation
1: Electronic charging station
1: Email marketing management
1: Housing management
1: Lead retrieval/contact management
1: Meeting industry standards/API management
1: Robot crowd engager for events
1: Room diagramming
1: Speaker management
1: Teambuilding-gaming
1: Voice recognition for events

A few trends are clearly emerging:
  • The rise of do-it-yourself (DIY) mobile apps providing the benefits of shorter lead times, lower costs and tighter control on the data published had the highest number of entries.
  • This was very closely followed by the rise in general full-featured, multi-purpose mobile apps for phones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
  • In a similar vein, newer technologies such as near field communication (NFC) and advanced wi-fi triangulation is providing newer mobile options such as very precise indoor geo-positioning, extremely fast ticketing and lead exchange in a manner far superior than ever before.
  • These above three all involve the explosion of mobile devices, apps and technologies for events – the hands-down strongest category.
  • Another category that saw a significant number of entries is in the area of high-end webcasting and conference content delivery. These tools are providing high-resolution, highly reliable conference content and video with short lead times. These tools are fueling the demand for hybrid meetings to expand the footprint of an event to remote audiences at cost lower than ever before.
  • A somewhat related category is the significant number of products to provide electronic content delivery for electronic signage, mobile agendas, and kiosks.
  • A particularly strong sub-category in this area was for paperless distribution of exhibit literature and other conference information which continues to highlight the general trend for greener, more sustainable events.
  • A number of entries sought to improve the business process at events through better ticketing, logistics/project management, and housing management.
  • And finally, there were a wide array of individual, unique ideas all seeking in some way to improve events.
This year's record number of entries:

The large number of entries points to the vitality of the meetings and trade show industries and how technology is increasingly used to improve the way events are managed. 

About the WWTW Judging Committee:
  • Chair: Corbin Ball, CEO, Corbin Ball Associates, corbinball.com
  • Michelle Bruno, President, Bruno Group Signature Events, brunogroup.com
  • Rudd Janssen, CEO, TNOC The New Objective Collective newobjectivecollective.com
  • Paul Hussey, Business Development Director, BSI Meetings and Events, bsimeetingsandevents.com
  • Bruce MacMillan, President and CEO of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), mpiweb.org
  • Martin Sirk, CEO, International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), iccaworld.com
  • Sam Smith, Managing Director, Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC, interactivemeetingtechnology.com

EIBTM is one of the largest tradeshows in the meetings industry. The 2010 meeting had over 14,241 participants from over 92 countries. Included were over 3,678 hosted buyers -- top-level decision-makers bought to the event as part its Hosted Buyer Program. This year's show dates are 29 November through 1 December 2011 in Barcelona.


©2011 Corbin Ball Associates - Reprinted with Permission

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a professional speaker and consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity.

 He can be contacted at his extensive web site: www.corbinball.com and followed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/corbinball
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