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Embracing Simplicity in a Complex World

GF Technology Session 1_13_18

In an ever-growing, complex world driven by technology, simplicity may be the best approach for meeting and event professionals.

Miguel Neves, founder and CEO of Social Media Chefs in London, led a session Saturday at the SITE + MPI Global Forum on trends and innovation in technology for meetings and events, telling a standing-room-only audience that new tech tools can be both a blessing and a curse.

“Single-tasking is the new multi-tasking,” he said. “We are starting to see this in websites that are now more simple. Google is the perfect example. When you go to Google, you see one search bar. Same thing with some conference apps and newsletters. They have one function.”

There are exciting and engaging apps and tools for the meeting planner that are continuing to evolve and some will make sense for you to use, he said, but be cautious and do your homework. At the end of the session, he offered tips and questions to consider when looking at new technology, or “shiny object syndrome,” as he called it.

Neves started his career in music and live event production, later becoming an event planner. While working for the IMEX Group, he developed the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum series of events, later moving into digital marketing and online engagement. Since July 2017, he has focused on combining his love of food and using the language of recipes to empower organizations to develop digital engagement strategies using the latest tools and techniques through his company. His title is head chef.

With that background, Neves guided Global Forum attendees through three areas: trends, innovations and implementation.

One of his key points under the area of trends revolved around “big data to smart data.”

“We collect a lot of data and it ends up in a database that we look at three months later and say, ‘Ah, that’s good to know,’” he said. “It can now be done much faster and we can use that data to create custom experiences as well as for sales, social media and marketing.”

He advised meeting professionals to be aware of changes in Europe due to the General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into effect in Europe in May. The GDPR impacts data protection laws to all foreign companies processing data of European Union residents. It also establishs new digital rights for EU citizens.

He said smartphones will continue to expand in usage at events, becoming personal remote controls capable of accessing more information. Apps that allow for phones to become microphones during sessions to avoid having to pass around a microphone during Q&A or having the ability to tap into a translation app to avoid the handout translator boxes are two examples.

Expect to see more influencer marketing—the use of respected or charismatic personalities to pitch products—and continued growth in experiencing events through others, such as eSports. Neves cited another example currently trending in England of people watching people watching television.

“I know,” he said as the attendees laughed. “But it’s happening right now.” Neves also predicts changes to email.

“Email is the lowest common denominator,” he said. “Everyone has it. But we’re in a battle for notification. Our emails are not getting noticed because of all the email we get.”

Look for more use of WhatsApp for reaching out as well as Workplace by Facebook. Chatbots—automated computer programs that conduct conversations through voice or text—along with use of augmented reality, facial recognition and other tools will only grow in usage. He urged attendees to avoid the “shiny object syndrome,” and offered these tips when considering how new technology might help the meeting planner.

Discover Why
• Does it solve a problem?
• Does it create new opportunities?
• Does it bring new challenges?

Consider How
• How does it integrate (tools and processes)?
• How will it be managed (people and resources)?
• How can we embrace it (culture)?

Strategic Planning—What
• Technical integration (IT, communications, purchasing)
• Adequate training (human resources, training and development)
• Part of how you do business (integration at all levels)

About the Author

Rich Luna

Rich Luna is director of publishing for MPI and editor in chief of The Meeting Professional.