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The rest of 2016 and 2017 are set to be quite disruptive. Technology and political changes will shake up the event industry as we know it. Are you ready to embrace the change?
I am not sure if you noticed but there is a lot going on in the world. The last 6 months have been quite dramatic, scary and exciting at the same time. It seems we are going through one of those cycles of intense change that happen every 10 years.
There are two main areas of disruption: Security and Technology. The way we react to these profound changes is going to define our profession for the next 10 years.
Security and Terrorism
There is a very volatile situation involving security and terrorism related threats. I am not qualified to comment on any of that and I won't. Looking at the facts of what has happened and is currently happening in Europe, U.S. and Africa, events are increasingly exposed to such threat.
Going over what has happened and revisit the facts is too painful. One thing for sure. We know several events have been targeted. Lives have been taken away. Security at events is under scrutiny.
It seems that most of these attacks want to strike wherever there is a gathering of people having fun, learning or simply enjoying life.
While we were growing tired of using hashtags on Twitter, a disruptive change happened on major social networks that impacts on the event industry.
The livestream revolution is happening. In the space of a few months, what used to be written, is now live video. The social networks' mantra 'Tell us what's up' has been replaced by 'Show us what's up'.
Only three weeks ago, the Pokemon Go frenzy started. All of a sudden hundreds of thousands of players are using augmented reality to play a game outside in the real world.
What we tried to do for years in events (live streaming and augmented reality gaming) is happening in the most mainstream way we have ever seen.
So What's The Biggest Threat?
I remember writing exactly the same words in 2007 when we were discussing the advent of social media and the use of Twitter at events. I remember being insulted in forums as people said that using hashtags at events was ‘never going to happen'.
The biggest threat at the moment for our industry, our event company, our job is how we react to these changes.
I was reading one of the most stupid articles I've come across recently debunking the myth of Pokemon Go and I got the idea to write this post.
If you think we are talking about a stupid game, you are not getting it. That's a threat to how you do business.
If you think that the terrorist threats are a distant problem, you are not getting it. You are endangering the lives of your attendees.
These are not futile exercises in style to capture your attention. I don't believe there is such thing as 'hype' anymore. Probably 15 years ago, we could have talked about hype but social media proved that hype is no more.
In this constantly connected and shared world, we grow together. Pokemon Go and Facebook Live are part of our shared culture. We all share this experience, we learn quickly, the resonance is massive (Nintendo gained $9 billion valuation in one week).
There is no time to think whether a new tool is hype or not. We just need to embrace the change and understand what is happening.
What Smart Eventprofs Do
I am not saying you should start playing 90s retro games or lock down your event altogether because you read it in the news. What I am proposing here is that we get deep into understanding what is happening around us.
Smart event professionals look into the recent terror events and understand what they can do to protect their event going forward. They start a conversation with local authorities to have a clear image of potential threats. They invest in extra security if they have established that there could be problems with their event.
Smart event professionals understand why live streaming and augmented reality games are all of a sudden mainstream. They read about the dynamics motivating such a surge and then they make educated decisions about incorporating such technology in their event.
I put together these two VERY different topics because they elicit similar reactions. Rejecting the likelihood of an attack at your event is very similar to rejecting technology driven change. Of course the results can be quite devastating in the former, but they are two sides of the same coin, rejection to change.
No Excuses, Keep Up
Change is around us and recently is happening faster than we've ever experienced. Developments are faster and we need to keep up. No excuses, you need to keep up. If you want to be a good event professional you need to keep up.
Get the facts, read, think, strategize, protect your attendees, understand your attendees. Think how they are changing.
There is no such thing as hype anymore, understand change and be ready. Your attendees will thank you for that.