Where to focus event innovation? - An audience led approach


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Presented by Live Union at Tech Fest in July 2013. In the face of so much new event technology and format deign, this presentation is designed to help event professionals identify where to focus their innovation.

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Where to focus event innovation? - An audience led approach

  1. 1. At Live Union we create internal and business events for people like EDF Energy, Sage,TripAdvisor and AXA. Like everyone in this room we’re working in a period of phenomenal technological change within events as live and digital channels merge. We spend a lot of time looking at the new technologies that are emerging, but the big challenge we face is that we can’t take risks with our client’s event – things have to work. So how do you really test things? How do you convince yourself and your client that a new digital engagement idea will actually work? What William’s done with Tech Fest is to create an event where it is safe to fail, where we can all get hands on with new technology and try things in an event environment- and if things don’t work, well its only us event professionals! So thanks William for creating Tech Fest and for bringing so many great
  2. 2. Today things like this are possible This is Tupac appearing at the Coachella festival as a hologram – performing from beyond the grave. With this warp speed innovation come a huge number of decisions, not least of which is where to allocate your event resources – particularly time and budget.
  3. 3. Over the next couple of days you’re going to experience a vast number of new technologies. What I’m going to do in the next 20 minutes is share an audience led approach to making the right decisions on where to focus your innovation.
  4. 4. It’s a presentation in three parts I’m going to start by asking a question about the future of events
  5. 5. I’m then going to share something called the DelegateValue Proposition. This is a framework we’ve developed at Live Union to help our clients focus their event innovation in the right places.
  6. 6. And finally we’ll look at how some different event tech, including some of the ones featured in this event, can be used to build value for your delegates.
  7. 7. I saw a great presentation by Intel’s creative head of experiential Joe English. Joe heads up their huge developer forum events and he asked the Intel futurologists a simple questions Will there be events in the future? The good news for all of us here today is that the answer was Yes!
  8. 8. This answer was based on 4 fundamental things they believe will continue to drive events in the future
  9. 9. The first is the fact that events connect people in very human ways that have real business value.
  10. 10. More obscurely they talked about serendipity. The idea that events put people together in ways that have unpredictable outcomes that are both valuable and exciting.
  11. 11. The Intel futurologists also talked about the ongoing shift from events being about information exchange to ideas exchange. At LIve Union we use the expression ‘do live what is best done live’. Events are great for communicating big ideas – detailed information is better communicated in other channels.
  12. 12. And finally, as social networks continue to grow, social exchange will become an ever more important aspect of events. The futurologists made an interesting point here: People with high value networks and a propensity to share information are more desirable audiences than those who keep the information to themselves Business are already making decisions about who to invite to their events based on this Increasingly it will be about turning attendees into advocates.
  13. 13. These four points about why live events will continue to exist long into the future provide a great platform to explore audience value and how to enhance it.
  14. 14. At Live Union we always look at things through the lens of delegate value.When we’re designing events for clients we use the DelegateValue Proposition to help us focus innovation. It is very much an audience led approach, and is based on a belief that there are six fundamental values that underpin event attendance today. These values are rooted in a belief that event audiences are changing and where the value lies for them in attending events is shifting. What I’d like to do is quickly go through these six and then ask you to vote on which of these was the most powerful driver in your deciding to attend Tech Fest.
  15. 15. First off and most straightforward- people go to events to concentrate on the things that matter. Today’s workplace is more distracting than ever; events provide a rare chance to focus on the things of real long term value. They enable people to get away from their desks and block out the time to think beyond their everyday tasks and to focus on the bigger picture.
  16. 16. Increasingly people are seeing events as things they can tailor to their own individual needs; It’s clear the value of events today isn’t in a one size fits all experience. Delegates value the opportunity to make choices about the content they experience and about how they use their time and energy at an event.
  17. 17. Today’s delegate is used to having a voice . People therefore both value and expect to be able to help shape the agenda and to have a voice at the event itself and beyond.
  18. 18. For delegates today, the value isn’t just in hearing new ideas and inspiration- it is being able to do something with it. People want to discuss it, apply it to scenarios and test their own ideas out on other delegates.
  19. 19. There’s a great book by Steven Johnson, called Where Good Ideas Come From. In it he looks at everyone from Darwin to Tim Berners-Lee, and what he shows is that innovation almost never occurs in isolation. In reality, what generally happens is that someone who has a half-formed idea shares it with someone else who has a related hunch.Those ideas pollinate, and create a breakthrough. At Live Union we think the opportunity for people to collaborate at events is an increasingly valuable area- particularly for internal audiences.As we’ll see here, technology can help capitalize on this area by providing more ways to design events that are more collaborative.
  20. 20. Whenever you research events, delegates tell you that a large part of their value lies in the ability to network. This is even more so the case in the age of digital networking, where real world human connections have never been more valuable.
  21. 21. Finally, we believe the last significant area of value is the cascade- this is where attendees turn into advocates.We need to harvest the opportunities which lie in delegates being able to easily share event content with their team or wider social network.
  22. 22. These six areas of delegate value can provide a solid framework for researching and evaluating a businesses roster of events, and for better understanding your audience.
  23. 23. Sometimes clients assess which areas of value have been achieved through a formal audit of their events, whereas other times they gauge it more instinctively. Certain areas areas of value are concentrate and built upon.This type of framework allows us to understand where is best to innovate and where to allocate resources in planning your event. For example, if the value in attending a flagship conference is in the ability to contribute, how can you innovate to achieve this? What new technologies should you embrace?
  24. 24. I’ve picked out four of these areas and looked at some of the technologies available you could consider.
  25. 25. We’ve identified that your audience value being able to contribute – how might you use technology to achieve this?
  26. 26. Has anyone come across SXSW Panel Picker? This is a website that allows anyone who wants to run a panel at the SXSW conference to upload a brief overview of their topic: other people can then browse the proposal and vote on the ones they’d like to see at the conference. Last year’s event saw 1,300 panel ideas submitted. The interesting thing about Panel Picker is that it ensures the audience are engaging with the content many months in advance, as topics are voted on and debated, turning Panel Picker into an additional piece of marketing for SXSW. Of course, if you’re trying to drive contribution you really need to consider using an Event App, of which you’ll see several examples over the next couple of days.Apps grant audiences the ability to answer polls, and vote, as well as ask questions and
  27. 27. What about if you’re trying to help delegates better network and connect?
  28. 28. There’s something exciting about chance, but it’s incredibly inefficient.Think about how many missed opportunities there are at any event because you don’t actually ‘bump into’ that person who could be the counterpart to your hunch.
  29. 29. Today many event networking tools are helping delegates self- categorise, by defining the topics they are interested in networking around.
  30. 30. This event is using Meet-Hub, and if you haven’t had a play with it already, you definitely should. You can make connections and set up meetings with people at the event based on shared interests – a highly efficient addition to conventional networking at events. Beyond this there are all sorts of proximity awareness tools such as Spotme, that further aid networking and apps that gamify the process. Choose whichever approach is appropriate for your audience. The point is that – particularly for British people – anything that oils the wheels of networking is a good thing.
  31. 31. So we’ve seen how we can help drive delegate value around connections. What if the DVP suggests the audience want to go a stage further and collaborate with other members of the audience and spend time working on shared challenges. At Live Union we’re big fans of an event format that we call the Hub.
  32. 32. It tends to look a bit like this… Distributed spaces where groups of different sizes can collaborate or discuss shared challenges and feed ideas back into the event. Now these spaces look pretty on a visual – but I’m sure some of you are thinking that a freeform space like this would result in organisational chaos. And you’d be right – unless that is, you integrate a digital hub. A digital hub accessed on delegate’s smart devices can empower much more fluid event formats, akin to an unconference. Delegates can suggest topics, book to join mini-sessions, upload thought starters and as event organisers we can view people’s personal agendas and evolve the physical space to meet their needs.
  33. 33. The final area I want to look at is context. This is perhaps the most abstract of six areas but it is also the one with the most future potential for event professionals. The potential here lies in the opportunity that data gives us to create more personally relevant events.
  34. 34. What do we know about our audience’s behaviour at our past- events? What sessions have they attended in the past? What do we know about them from social media? How can this influence how we position our future events to them?