Considering the pros and cons of the latest e-tech
By David Papp, P.Eng.
The good news – new e-technologies are emerging daily. The bad news – new e-technologies are emerging daily.
No doubt, many of us are befuddled by this common technology paradox and rapidly advancing e-tech choices raise many questions for meeting planners. How can we leverage new technology to improve our event communication and reach? Is technology minimizing work-load and expense or is it doing the exact opposite? Will it all ultimately enhance or confound the attendee experience?
We are certainly in an exciting new era of e-technology that promises to simplify and expand event delivery and streamline tasks. We are also in a time of transition which adds to the complexity because we have to choose between new vs. tried-and-true tools.
There is an increasing number and variety of e-tech communication tools (apps, QR codes) and virtual meeting environments (WebEx, GoToWebinar, Lync Online, and Google Hangouts). It can be challenging to assess which are time and money savers and which will send us into a maelstrom of extra work and frustration.
Reduce the choice overload by first focusing on the needs of your audience. Do they want to be connected? There are many people who are totally immersed in e-technology; for them something like learning a new app is effortless. There are also people who prefer the physical, paper-based formats like fold-out maps and conference program books. There is no benefit incorporating something your attendees will not utilize or enjoy.
Evaluate tech options for cost-effectiveness and user-friendliness. Every event seems to want an app! However, there are a lot of apps which are very expensive and have a high user learning curve. There are also less expensive, ready-made apps. If you go for this option, make sure that it has a Content Management System (CMS) so you can control the content easily. Ask suppliers for a demo and experience a live product before you decide.
Plan carefully. Consider the time required for creating, inputting and updating e-content. If your content is interactive, you will also need someone to monitor incoming and outgoing information.
What are the pros and cons of the e-technologies under consideration in relation to your event requirements, priorities and long-term goals?
Some of the pros:
- It’s green. E-brochures, content apps and downloadable marketing PDFs all save paper;
- Information updates can be shared quickly. Changing and disseminating information is easy and instantaneous;
- Information is more memorable with attention-grabbing videos and pictures;
- Convenient data management. Tracking attendee information for follow-up and sharing;
- An accessible and cost-effective way to store a lot of information. With technology like QR codes, you can store an infinite amount of information such as links, video, maps, pictures, e-brochures etc. Also, you often can track their usage;
- Increase event buzz and participant engagement. Leveraging existing social media channels can support up-front marketing of the event. During the event, it can heighten buzz and cultivate two-way dialogue with attendees; and
- The cool-factor of operating in real time. Instant feedback and metrics capture priceless information for you.
Some of the cons:
- Reliable Wi-Fi access. When technology requires Internet access, connectivity interruptions disrupt the service. Be sure to check with the venue for reliable Wi-Fi. I personally find Wi-Fi super frustrating at many venues due to lack of reliability and slow responses;
- The hidden costs. Always research options and request a detailed breakdown of all costs (i.e. set-up, configuration, customization, hosting, support and licensing/usage fees);
- Data security and privacy. If you are asking attendees to enter personal information into an app, for example, you will have to take the precautions necessary to ensure that data is secure;
- Too much of a good thing. Rein in your e-tech excitement; overdoing it can create a negative experience;
- Too much work! If the learning curve is too steep or if it takes too much effort, technology ceases to add value; and
- A lack of control over your content. Beware of technologies that do not enable easy content change control.
No doubt, emerging e-technology can be overwhelming. The good news is that if you use what you already know about your event audience and objectives, you can more easily filter through and evaluate the many exciting tech options.
David Papp is “Your Technology Advisor,” helping people get more tech savvy to thrive in today’s economy. He is an active blogger, author, speaker, trainer, consultant, entrepreneur, professional engineer and an über-tweep.
Appeared in Speaking of Impact, Summer 2014 Edition