AI came, AI saw, I Managed
By Trevor Punt
Mention Artificial Intelligence in certain organiser circles and some will think you’re referring to the IQ of their attendees.
However, enlightened organisers are aware that Artificial Intelligence, computer systems that can perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, is the event technology of the moment and increasingly embracing it despite not having a clue what it means nor bothering to question it.
The level of investment in AI by the events industry is massive. Put the word AI next to the words event app, management software and matchmaking and all these things immediately sound more attractive. AI for event planning sounds cool and innovative. Who cares about the money you’ll have to pay?
Given the complexity of systems, AI is a business with more false promises and misconceptions per square meter than any other in the event industry. There is much to consider when evaluating AI and it’s important to know what the pitfalls are because you want a solution that works for your event and keeps you one step ahead of your competition.
The events industry is a “people” industry, where networking and one-on-one interaction are key components of the business, so you want to be able to trust that AI will do the right thing for your attendees and event as well as ensure sustainability and longevity.
The events industry thrives on innovation and the best AI enhances processes that customises customer engagement and subsequently increase revenue. In terms of managing events, this means enhanced attendee experiences through personalisation and more meaningful interaction with AI-enhanced systems that attendees, exhibitors and sponsors will appreciate.
AI technology can speed up registration by employing facial recognition, save on temporary staff costs, untap marketing opportunities for large events and improve security. But these are the obvious.
We’re all used to asking questions to Chatbots such as SIRI and Cortana. Now consider the power of asking questions about your event with an easier-to-access interface and getting targeted information. Nobody wants to be bothered with 100 screens to find what’s going on. Attendees want specific information, now. Not in 2 minutes time. 2 minutes in an event is an eternity. Chatbots offer an increased degree of sophistication in assistance attendees by learning and personalising exchanges from previous interactions.
If you organise large events, facial recognition – though expensive – is for you if you want to speed up registration. Scanning a face can be very accurate and cross referenced with social media profiles to speed up access and process attendees to identify potential terror threats.
Deep Learning is a technology which relies on pattern recognition. In real and practical terms, this translates into an AI system that reads footfall and registration data and anticipates what logistics are needed in terms of beverages, food, and crowd control. As the event progresses in real-time, decisions are based on data from previous events of similar sizes and requirements.
AI can provide smart information about event marketing opportunities. Knowing that if someone registers someone else in their network may be interested because an algorithm discovered that can be coupled with offering smart recommendations to exhibitors, through event apps, about who they should meet on the show floor and the products that would most suit their interests.
An AI matchmaking engine can interpret data from pre-populated attendee social media profiles and recommend people to meet, stands to visit and conference sessions to attend. Make this a real-time system and the connection between user and engine increases because AI learns from behaviour as users interact with it making for better recommendations the more it’s used.
For exhibitors, it’s all about time, space and staff. Knowing what their potential buyers are interested in before meeting them helps them to personalise their offerings and maximise the limited personnel, space and time they have during the event.
However, to use AI effectively, data is key to useful, operational systems and AI is a data goldmine.
With the talk of data input, comes concerns about data protection and integrity so it’s important to recognise this as one of the impacts of technology on the industry.
While increasingly sophisticated analysis is applied to data, a balance must be struck between data protection compliance while encouraging innovation. Data integrity is not the most exciting part of AI development, but it’s a key component – high quality data in, good quality intelligence out. Making sure data is maintained at an appropriate level has consequences for how it can be used.
AI for event planning sounds bold and attractive and we’re just at the beginning of the revolution. However, its uses aren’t fully understood.
Many techies and marketers use the term “AI” to sound impressive, without offering something concrete or valuable to event professionals. They can talk about chatbots, algorithms and predictions; face and voice recognitions, but that doesn’t mean we understand whether it will revolutionise events or if it’s intelligent, a bit like attendees.