The Showmanator Says “2012 the year smartphone revolutionises and mobilises”
What a year it’s been for mobile technology in general, but that’s nothing to what 2012 will bring – talk about the perfect storm! Here are ten reasons why event smartphones apps are set to become the ‘must have’ accessory:
1. Mobile web just isn’t cutting it – the extra functionality, interaction and up-to-the-minute information offered by smartphones will finally win over the luddites whose heads have been well buried in the sand thinking it’s enough to create a mobile version of their website. Not any more! As more people convert to smartphones, the pressure will be on event producers to offer the fuller experience delivered by native applications for the different smartphones and tablets.
2. The Android factor – phones running on the Android operating system are predicted to account for 50% of the smartphone market by 2015, a trend that’s already well underway. The Android operating system offers a great experience across a wide range of mobile devices, many at genuinely affordable prices. Android is no longer for geeks alone – it’s going mainstream in a big way and the number of apps for Android just keeps on growing. The big loser? Blackberry.
3. Proliferation of iPads and Tablets – offering all the functionality of smartphones but on a grander scale, these ‘puppies’ are changing how people work and opening up amazing possibilities for event producers to manage their events in real time.
4. QR codes will finally get their dues – quick response codes have been around for several years. We predict 2012 will be the year when event people fully get their heads round what they can do in terms of registration badges, counting attendance at programme sessions, real time analytics, lead capture and information exchange. This is particularly important while the economic climate continues to put pressure on corporate budgets with the need for demonstrable ROI.
5. Enforced ‘greening’ of events – the meetings industry has long been considered one of the worst offenders when measured the depth of its carbon footprint. Countries like Canada have legislated to enforce better practice and others are set to follow. The exponential increase that is predicted in smartphone penetration (in Australia for example 60% of all new mobile devices that are bought are smartphones) in 2012 will start to open the door to the paperless event; people use their phones as an event guide, to collect exhibitor brochures and contacts,and to rate, edit, save, forward and share on social media. No more heavy ‘goodie bags’ to cart around and no guilt as most of the contents go straight in the bin.
6. Smartphones are ‘lovemarks’ – Saatchi and Saatchi supremo Kevin Roberts defined brands to which people are loyal beyond the edge of reason as ‘lovemarks’. The more people have them and use them, the more they want to and expect to use them. By the end of 2012, an event app will be an expectation rather than a luxury because they feed the love affair whilst also delivering tangible benefits.
7. The rise and rise of social media – social media has opened up the concept of building year-long communities around events. Strategic use of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have already extended the ‘shelf life’ of events. Smartphone apps worth their salt reinforce these communities during events, allowing people to connect via their social media profiles and share things they like or that they think others should know about.
8. Fresh thinking on internet access – while no-one in their right minds would predict that all venues/producers will be offering free, easy access wireless, during 2012 the demand for technological event solutions will force this issue into the open once and for all, and ensure that some sensible options emerge. These might be tiered access with a free ‘lite’, moving to a paid model for medium to heavy usage. This would end to the ridiculous practice of logging people out of the wireless every two minutes or making it so hard to log-on in the first place that they don’t bother.
9. Improved technology infrastructure at venues – interactive floor plans … heat mapping … using GPS in phones to see where your contacts are … blue tooth style advertising at booths … augmented reality. All of these things are possible now. None of them is a reality at events and won’t be until venues incorporate the required technology infrastructure as a matter of course. It’s coming in 2012 because demand will drive the changes, but venues and event producers will have to experiment with new financial models to offset the costs involved.
10. Mobile strategies replace trial and error – as more and more options come to market for ‘mobilising events’, savvy producers will move away from dipping their toes in the mobile waters to seeking strategic technology partners for long-term relationships. Technology providers with poor product will fall by the wayside in the face of this improved understanding, forcing a rationalisation of the technology ‘clutter’ that was a feature of the last couple of years.
But there’s one more essential ingredient in the mix. Despite the continued feebleness of the global economy and the increasing trend towards hybrid and virtual meetings, face-to-face meetings still hold their place in the hearts and minds of marketers and event attendees. The magic that happens between like-minded people during a random meeting in the elevator or over a wine at the end of the day is still not easy to replicate on line. Smartphone apps will be one of the primary ways that people can continue to justify their attendance and get demonstrable value from events, reducing random and ramping up results.