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The government shut down. A former Disney child star goes wild. Breaking Bad comes to an end. These are just a few things we’re happy to leave behind in 2013. But as we look on to the New Year, we’re excited about where our own industry is headed and want to share the top 5 event technology trends for 2014 we think should be on your radar.
1. Cloud software will make a huge footprint in the industry
Event planners continue to work in a high-stress, high-demand field – that is definitely not a new trend. But event technology designed to make their lives easier is absolutely at the top of our trends list. Moving away from multiple-point solutions to one consolidated platform (cloud software) is one of the most talked about topics in the meetings and events industry now and growing into the future. “We’re seeing over 50% of enterprises prioritizing private cloud in 2013 to 2014, and there will likely be very few private clouds that don’t have a public [hybrid] component,” said Dave Bartoletti, analyst with Forrester Research Inc.
In fact, according to Gartner, by 2016 cloud computing will become the bulk of IT spend and nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017.
2. Big Data will lead the way to big business success
While you may just be on the cusp of understanding what Big Data means and how it benefits your business, enterprise companies are already seeing the positive effects of Big Data initiatives. A recent survey paper, The Big Potential of Big Data: A Field Guide for CMOs from Forbes and Rock Fuel, finds that most marketers agree Big Data helps:
- More than 9 in 10 companies (92%) who said they had made sufficient use of Big Data met or exceeded their goals, while just 5% of those who made sufficient use of it fell short.
Companies are looking for ways to merge their event marketing and spend data to gain a better understanding of their business and apply those conclusions to improved business practices – such as more efficient event management and dynamic attendee experiences.
3. SMM will be the phrase heard round-the-world
Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) is starting to emerge in Europe, in which the German Convention Bureau revealed in a recent meetings and conventions study that 28.6% of respondents felt very strongly that globalization will be influential in the future.
The more notable location to watch though is China, as their business travel spending is projected to expand 17.2% in 2014. SMM adoption throughout Asia-Pacific, especially in China, will be essential as businesses there struggle to contain costs and cut risk. Steve O’Malley, Senior Vice President of Maritz Travel explains that many companies are now looking, “to find ways to enjoy the savings and risk mitigations that they’re now getting here in North America, where SMMP [Strategic Meetings Management Program] is a well-developed practice, and extend that overseas to the other largest markets they serve.”
4. Hybrid Events will be more than your event’s sidekick
Meeting organizers are progressing from just having a conversation about hybrid events, to now actually making them part of their event. Event webcasting and hybrid events are hitting a tipping point, especially now that real data exists to show their value. According to a recent Aberdeen Group report, 55% of companies surveyed plan to either start using or increase their use of virtual online events, in part as a way to show a meeting or event’s return on investment.
Another reason is conversion. The 2013 Virtual Edge Institute Digital Event Benchmark Report stated that 47.7% of respondents said 10% or higher of their past online attendees have attended a subsequent in-person event. Additionally, a recent project conducted by Meeting Professionals International (MPI), sponsored by Sonic Foundry (Disclosure: Sonic Foundry is an ACTIVE Network partner), showed that 23% of event planners surveyed said that after going hybrid, attendance actually went up. But remember, you can’t just decide to go hybrid – you have to really own it to be successful. Samuel J. Smith, an event technology consultant and President of Interactive Meeting Technology, put things in perspective: it’s all about “how you design the content and the experience to engage those people and keep them connected.” Which brings us to our next trend…
5. Content will remain king – with no plans of giving up the crown
According to MPI’s 2013 Q3 Business Barometer, innovative format and content delivery is a major meetings industry trend. It’s more important than ever to be creating content that adds value to your audience and ignites an interest and loyalty with them to your business. Content also plays a role in helping events attract attendees by building a “buyer’s vision” that addresses challenges and solutions.
“The user is now at the top of the value chain. The consumer is deciding what they want to see and how they want to see it,” said Buzzfeed’s Jonathan Perelman, VP of Agency Strategy. Very true and you might already be aware of. But he adds on with something you’ll want to take with you into the New Year, about understanding how content travels online, “Data is useless unless you have insights on it… content is king but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.” Going back to Trend #2 on our list – get on board with Big Data!
Additional articles on event and meeting trends for 2014:
IMEX Forecasts 2014 Meeting Trends (IMEX)
4 Trends That Will Impact Meeting Professionals in 2014 (PCMA)
14 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2014 (Corbin Ball)
10 Event Trends for 2014 (Event Manager Blog)
Meetings & Events Advises on 2014 Trends (CWT)
Top Meeting Trends of 2014 (Destination Hotels & Resorts)
Top 5 Meetings Megatrends (German Convention Bureau)
Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends of 2014 (Wellness Tourism Worldwide)
Feel free to share your own 2014 meeting and event predictions below. We wish you lots of success in the New Year!
 Gartner Says Cloud Computing Will Become the Bulk of New IT Spend by 2016, Gartner, October 24, 2013
 Survey Demonstrates The Benefits Of Big Data, Forbes, November 15, 2013
 German Convention Bureau Study Reveals Future Industry Trends, Meetings & Conventions, October 23, 2013
 GBTA Predicts China Business Travel Spend to Increase by 14.3% in 2013, and at More than Double the Rate of the US in 2014, GBTA, October 24, 2013
 Event Marketing, Aberdeen Group, November 2013
 Americas: How to Create a Hybrid Event, International Meetings Review, November 18, 2013
 Meeting Professionals Trade Uncertainty for Creativity, MPI Reports, Successful Meetings, November 6, 2013
 Event Marketing, Aberdeen Group, November 2013
 Digital advertising: ‘If content is king, distribution is queen’, ScreenDaily, October 23, 2013