In last month’s post, the Showmanator somewhat rashly said he’s not in the predictions business. But hey, it is a New Year and everyone else is at it — it’s kind of contagious — and, most of all, it’s fun! After all, what would be the point of a New Year without layering on the guilt by making some short-lived resolutions and dusting off the crystal ball to gaze myopically into the future?
So, here goes. My over-arching prediction for 2013 is that everything that was predicted to happen in the event app space last year and didn’t will happen this year. So who needs crystal balls or expert knowledge? This prediction stuff is child’s play!
Seriously though, a lot of things didn’t happen last year that were expected to. Some never will — commercial applications for augmented reality spring to mind here. Others such as way-finding and location-based services for example are no brainers. That they will happen is as certain as the sun continuing to rise in the east each day. Despite the current limitations (not an option on all phones, the difficulty of pinpointing handsets to the metre, and the complexity of dealing with the infinite variety of layouts within exhibition spaces), a way will be found (pun intended). It is also clear that tablets are on track for early world domination.
However, there will be some that may just move into a holding pattern. Given RIM’s 2012 brinksmanship, it is now teetering into 2013 rather than oblivion (as was commonly assumed would be its fate) as we wait … and wait … for the BlackBerry 10 … and judgement day. In fact, RIM’s white-knuckle survival may be the one constant in our rapidly changing world, so hold your eulogies, don’t carve RIP RIM on the headstone yet. The purveyors of the world’s worst or best smartphone — depending on your perspective — may surprise us all and stay the distance again this year.
But talking about these issues is like having a punt each way on the favourite in horse race. Where’s the fun in that? So the Showmanator’s decided to back a few starters with less obvious form but good bloodlines:
1. Paperless events stop being a stalking horse
The proliferation of smart devices will make paperless events a genuine alternative as delegates push to remove wasteful, expensive and annoying paper. No more ‘goodie bags’, no more weighty print programmes. Hold the press on exhibitor brochures and other collateral. Why print when you can App it? Cost savings for everyone involved. With mobile web apps there is no longer the excuse that not everyone has a smart device. Apart from the fact that an increasing number of them do, mobile web means no one misses out. Nor should you!
2. User discernment becomes a front-runner
Just mobilising your event is not going to be enough for your app-savvy delegates in 2013. From our experiences at event this year, there is now an expectation of event apps that are more than just digital programmes or guides. This column has talked about ‘app culture’ in the past, but app culture exists and people expect sophisticated interactions and the experience they’re familiar with on their chosen device. Mobile web apps have a place, but they still don’t provide the experience of native apps that are custom designed for specific devices and you will risk disappointing people if you offer them less. There are a lot of free and fremium apps around. Select carefully because most of them have limitations when it comes down to it.
3. Google+ stops being an ‘also ran’ and closes the gap with Facebook
This, prediction is straight from the lively brain of Josh, our Social Media Guru who is a pioneer of the new role of Social Media Concierge. This role is growing in importance at events by the minute as hybridisation and unconferencing gain ground. It would be a bold event producer that even thought about planning their 2013 events without including a social media strategy and our best advice is it’s time to include Google+ in yours. The improved feature set, user experience and networking options — all the other things that were not great in the past, now are — will ensure Google+ comes into the frame in 2013.
Well, that’s our top three picks. The bets have been placed and now all we have to do is cheer our winners over the finishing line at the end of the year … if they’re still standing that is!