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Technology Highlights from 2011

Anthony Miller, Global Strategic Director for Active Network, Events gives us the technology highlights of the year. (As featured in the November newsletter).

2011 has been an exciting year with the emergence and adoption of numerous and exciting new technologies for the event marketer.

From QR codes, mobile and tablet applications, RFID, social media tools to gamification the industry has witnessed what some may regard as an “innovation revolution”.  In this article we will examine a few of these technologies in detail and see how their proliferation is influencing the world of events.

The most forward thinking innovational organisations continue to adopt and deploy  technologies to increase the levels of engagement with their audiences and to better measure the results of their event programs.

There is no doubt that the events industry is bouncing back from the recent economic gloom, and we believe this recovery will be further assisted by innovation, enabling differentiation, through the use of technologies within the industry.

It is key, though, that we do not use technology just for technology’s sake and its use must be supported by clear objectives focused upon improving the attendee experience, extending the event lifecycle, enabling measurement and driving efficiencies.

Driven by an increasingly competitive marketplace, event professionals are more open to and confident in adopting and deploying these new technologies.

So what are the technology highlights from 2011? 

QR Codes (Quick Response code) are a type of matrix barcode which has become popular in the marketing and advertising industries due to its fast readability through smartphones scanner apps and for the large storage capacity compared to the regular bar code.

Thanks to their versatility QR codes are now a common sight on attendee badges. Attendees and stakeholders can now access and store a greater depth of information than can be stored by conventional barcodes. And because QR codes can be scanned by conventional smartphones you no longer need specialist scanning equipment and the opportunity to “scan” is open to all.  

Probably, the most common use of this 'new' scanning technology is to reproduce a QR code on literature and posters which link to a URL.

A couple of innovative uses of QR codes in the events space includes use on billboards promoting sports events so interested athletes can scan the code on their mobile phone and directly access the event registration page and register “on the fly”. We are also seeing QR codes being linked to online surveys enabling more instantaneous feedback. For example, at the end of a session, the presenter can include the big QR code in his last slide or printed on leaflets on the tables and ask the audience to take 3 minutes to scan the code and fill out the survey from their mobile phones. You can create QR codes for free on http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

Some industry observers have stated that 2011 was the year that the events industry truly embraced social media and networking.

We are seeing social media being used to listen to and better understand and engage with an audience before during and after the physical event. There are many free tools available to monitor online conversations on Twitter or Facebook and there are open forums, like on Linkedin, where professionals from various industries and disciplines share ideas and engage in lively discussions.

We are now also seeing Twitter being used in the live event to send information to the audience and to listen to, answer questions and receive their feedback in real time.

The new Facebook business pages features represent an extremely interesting opportunity for event professionals,

This new feature allows users to personalise pages like micro-sites. You can even stream a live event from these pages as we have recently seen with the highly innovative Event Camp Twin Cities. 

We have also seen an increasing interest in building event-centric communities online to allow attendees to network and connect before the event takes place to ensure they get to meet the people they want and enabling them to get the most out of this face to face time.

In October we had the opportunity to work with the United Nations' agency for Information and Communications Technology providing technology for their global conference. The main theme of the event was the importance of knowledge sharing, networking, collaborating and connecting.

In addition to online registration, session tracking and mobile application we also built the infrastructure for their online community called “Your Space.”

This platform provides attendees with the ability to construct their own personalized event program and networking map. Having created their own profiles attendees can identify the most relevant sessions and exhibitors of interest to them.

As pictured below, YourSpace illustrates this through a circular map with the attendee at the center and the various sessions, exhibitors and fellow attendees dispersed throughout the outer circles. The closer a flag, which represents another attendee or activity, gets to the center, the more relevant it is to the individual. This visual representation of relevance and value helps attendees to organise their event schedules more easily and get the most out of their attendance at the event.


This is just snapshot of the some of the most exciting and accessible technology innovations in the events sector. We are entering an accelerated and exciting period of technological innovation which will impact on every part of our business and personal lives. Some of these technologies may sound like science fiction but they are science fact and within months will be available to us all, take 3d printing for example: 3D printing - the technology that could re-shape the world

  • International Confex
  • Candada
  • Active Events
  • Event Assured

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