All event marketers are supreme road warriors, and technology has made it possible for you to travel through your myriad tasks unencumbered by reams of paper, oversized laptops, and bulky day planners. Whether you manage trade shows, events, or both, the most cumbersome parts of your job might get even easier in 2015, while concurrently helping to improve your ROI.
Following are some technologies to watch in 2015:
RF Technology – Many event marketers have been using QR codes or have kept standard barcode technology before upgrading to RFID technology. In 2015, expect to see event marketers start to migrate to the newest RF technology, called Ultra High Frequency (UHF). UHF is the fastest growing segment of the RF technology market, and for good reason. UHF is the fastest on the market, and can be used anywhere.
Another RF technology to watch is Near Field Communications (NFC). In my May 2014 blog, “What Is Near Field Communications (NFC) and How Does it Work?” I said that NFC could be in the hands of nearly all smartphone users within the next two years if Apple adopts the technology, and it has. Apple has created its own contactless "tap to pay" mobile wallet in the form of Apple Pay, making NFC payments possible for millions of iPhone 6 owners. On NFC phones, that familiar SIM card is being extended to act as the secure element that can hold other apps such as payment cards.
According to the results of the EXHIBITOR 2014 Marketing Technology Survey, 13% of the respondents say that RF and NFC have the most potential as a marketing tool.
From EXHIBITOR’s 2014 Marketing Technology Survey
In June of last year I blogged about “The Future of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Technology” and explained how using BLE beacons can help trade show marketers push messaging directly to prospects. This year, I expect to see BLE utilized more often as a marketing tool to give store visitors an incentive to purchase specific items. Beacons on the exhibit floor, would enhance the face-to-face experience and attendees could touch their phones or instantly receive alerts with information for that product. In fact, the new Google physical web project is based on the same BLE technology as iBeacon, and on the same logic of sending small bits of information from a device to the smartphone. Check out this video from Blesh, the supplier of physical web beacons, which highlights the potential usage of this technology.
Big Data – Last July I wrote “What Does Big Data Mean to Event Marketers?” and emphasized how important it is to collect data across all of your events and shows. Cross-collecting data from all touch points including registration, check-in, attendance, sessions, visits, show floor, feedback, social media, and mobile are touch points that can lead you to learn what every attendee finds interesting. In 2015, we will continue to find ways to tame all of that data so that only key information leading to critical ROI remains.
Apps – I have no doubt that apps will continue to make inroads in the event marketing world this year. Apps can help attract attendees to an exhibit, inspire interaction, obtain lead information, and even extend the relationship after the show. Check-in, attendance tracking and survey apps can be easily implemented on your mobile device, and I see them becoming a fundamental part of how event managers execute events onsite in 2015.
Google Glass – In my August blog, I asked, “Is Google Glass Ready for Us?” The answer is “NO”. According to CNBC, 2015 may not bode any better for Google Glass than last year because of lack of support in the developer community. Google told CNBC that Glass has 100 apps now. By comparison, the iTunes App Store has millions of apps. Twitter stopped making its app for Google Glass in October, and they aren’t the only ones. Pulled by sales from Google, the product is now under direction of Tony Fadell. Fadell was formerly with Apple and Next which is now owned by Google. If you’re willing to tolerate its legendary poor battery life, you can probably find used Glass on eBay. At the time of this writing, I checked eBay and there is one available for only $500. – and had only one bid.
Wearable & Health Technology – Those of you who attended CES 2015 are well aware that many companies are expecting wearables to be the next big thing in the tech industry. Major vendors from Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony and countless others are investing heavily in the space. The Sony Smartwatch 3 Android has a 1.3-inch OLED display and the waterproof device comes with built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor. The elegant Withings Activite Pop smartwatch counts steps, tracks calories and is completely waterproof, and its battery life lasts for up to eight months! There were fitness wristbands and bracelets galore at CES, including the i.amPULS by musician Will.i.am (pictured below) which features its own operating system, can take and make phone calls and text messages, and doesn't need to sync with a smartphone.
Watch for availability of the new Apple iWatch in March, but you can experience it now at www.demoapplewatch.com. What do you think will happen in the event marketing industry when it’s released? How would you use it?
Do you think wearables are a fad or here to stay? Please chime in here with your thoughts.