Event Technology in 2017: A Synopsis
- Apple almost killed templated event apps in 2017. Then they didn’t. But now event companies often need to submit their own apps to the app store instead of having the app developer do it.
- Lots of new technologies still haven’t transitioned from “shiny new thing” to “sustained value-creator” in the event space. AR has my vote for most likely to make the transition next.
- The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) should cause everyone (show organizers, exhibitors, and technology providers) to re-evaluate their data collection and usage strategy. Learn all about GDPR changes here.
The day the event apps (almost) died
Apple, in June of 2017, released revised guidelines for their app store in an effort to limit low quality and near-duplicate apps in the app store. The revision included language that disallowed “templated apps”. Any event app provider that creates apps for events based on a template with small customizations for a particular event was in trouble. Long story short, after pushback from many industries (I have to assume that apps for schools, universities, churches, etc. were also feeling the heat) Apple revised their guidelines to say, “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the event’s content.”
Take home point: Event apps should now be submitted to the Apple app store by the event organizer, rather than having the app developers do it for them.
Emerging tech in live events (mostly tradeshows)
The events industry hypes up, tries out, chews up and spits out more than its fair share of technology. I always recommend starting out with a problem you’re trying to solve and then seeing if any tech can help do it. But since everyone loves buzzwords, here’s my take on the current status and future promise of some of the buzziest buzzwords out there.
- Current applications in events – Scanning a barcode (or target) to reveal product information or 3D interactive models of the product via your smartphone display. You can also put a dinosaur in the event lobby more easily than ever before.
- Future outlook – Look for future AR applications to give more and better context. Every item at an event may soon include a deeper layer of interactivity when viewed through the camera of an AR capable device.
- Current applications in events – Some exhibitors at trade shows are using VR to show attendees a massively large product, let them visit a factory or company headquarters, and generally provide a “cool” factor to attract people to a booth.
- Future outlook –VR hardware is becoming increasingly available, but the next big breakthrough will come when VR can do better collaborative/shared experiences. Nobody goes to an event to experience something alone.
- Current applications in events – The best example of using these sort of near field technologies is Disney’s Magic Band and concerts that provide wrist bands to ease purchasing and track attendees. Event organizers are also using this tech to get some insight into attendee movements throughout the event.
- Future outlook – For beacons to be deeply successful, they will need to enable more deeply personalized experiences while deftly navigating the challenges of personal data privacy.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence
- Current applications in events – Chatbots have been deployed in some events to give a conversational interface for things like wayfinding or exhibitor research and to lighten the load of customer service reps.
- Future outlook – Look for event tech companies to increasingly offer facial recognition and tracking of not only an attendee’s whereabouts, but also their emotions. If an attendee’s emotions and path through an event can be used to predict buying behavior, we will have a true game changer. Needless to say, there will be privacy challenges here.
Internet of things
- Current applications in events – The promise of IoT is that everything can be instrumented, monitored, and to an extent, controlled remotely. If I had to guess, the most common application of this would be people counting, but that tech has been around for a long time.
- Future outlook – Maybe monitoring fluid levels in coffee carafes and catering trays would be helpful?
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The GDPR is a regulation that was adopted by the EU parliament in 2016 but will be in force beginning in May of 2018. According to this FAQ page.
“The GDPR not only applies to organisations located within the EU but it will also apply to organisations located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU data subjects. It applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company’s location.”
Especially since I am not a lawyer, I recommend reading GDPR Key Changes for the details. But let me tease you with a few details:
- GDPR gives a data subject the right to access the data which has been processed about them and, if desired, “have the data controller erase his/her personal data, cease further dissemination of the data, and potentially have third parties halt processing of the data.” This latter part is called the right to be forgotten.
- GDPR strengthens the conditions for consent to how a data subject’s data is used. Consent for data usage can’t be buried in mountains of legalese and needs to be as easy to withdrawal as it is to give.
- Significant fines can result from not following the regulation.
Event tech is an always-morphing animal. But now you’re pretty much up to speed. Feel free to reach out with any questions or to point out something I missed. Thanks for sharing this with whoever might find it helpful.
(title inspiration credit to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s “Astrophysics for People in A Hurry”)