How The "Internet of Things" Is Transforming the Landscape of Corporate Events

The event landscape is rapidly changing and the bar is ever-raising. The emergence of IoT is to blame.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a concept that describes smart, connected devices. When we think about these new technologies, we often think about home automation—the famous Nest thermostat, deadbolts that use your phone's Bluetooth to unlock, app-controlled mood lighting—but in fact, the IoT concept is quite a bit broader and is infiltrating many market segments.

IBM estimates that 15 billion devices now fall under its IoT umbrella in 2015. A number that is projected to grow to 200 billion by 2020. IoT is a transformative technology making its way across industries, including the world of events. These smart connected devices are changing the way attendees engage with brands and are increasing the amount of business intelligence that companies can gather from events.

IoT Implementation at Corporate Events

You may have been hearing the term IoT enough recently that you think it's just a buzzword for future technology hype. However, IoT is a here-and-now technology with many practical implementations for event marketing. One of the most well known is beacon technology, such as the iBeacon, which sends proximity-based notifications and content to smartphones within range.

Business Insider estimates that 4.5 million beacons will be deployed by 2018. Engagement is particularly high for iOS devices because they automatically pick up beacon signals even when the companion apps are closed.

You've seen or experienced beacon technology in the recent streamlining of attendee registration, or when information about scheduled sessions pops up while your nearby. We can push content to attendees related to the booths they visit and spur engagement by connecting event related social networks and conversation channels.

As IoT further infiltrates our events, we're seeing a more bird's-eye view of attendee movement throughout the event. Connected devices synced with beacon and RFID technologies allow excellent visibility into what attendees are truly interested in.

How IoT Improves Attendee Engagement

When you have an exhibit at a trade show or you're putting on a national sales meeting, you don't always have the time to engage one-on-one with every attendee. Some may not want to talk, while others may only have a few minutes before they're pulled away from your booth or into breakout rooms. Utilizing IoT provides a way to connect when you can't connect.

At leadership conferences and sales meetings, rather than a keynote speaker spending time going over basic company information or concepts, the related content can be pushed to the audience as needed to provide necessary context to the discussion, saving time while both satisfying and engaging the audience members.

This works great for Q&A too. For example, attendees within the ballroom can send questions through a connected device, which relays the questions to the speaker, who can choose the best ones to answer. If the speaker is simply taking questions on the fly, he runs the risk of spending time on questions that don't really add much to the discussion. By implementing an app or service such as Conferences.io, the organization creates a seamless question delivery system, and the speaker can filter questions that add to the conversation and improve the attendee experience.

How IoT Improves Brand Business Intelligence

There's a significant amount of business intelligence out there at events, prime for the plucking. IoT is here to help. Tracking attendees throughout the event allows you insight into their actions, and those may tell a different story than their words. Additional data you can pull from utilizing IoT at your event are the amount of booth visits each exhibitor received, how much time attendees spent at each booth, how the flow of foot traffic is around the exhibit, attendance numbers for each speaker session, and much more.

You can use this information to improve upon your event in the future, determine whether to bring back certain speakers, move popular speakers to larger breakout rooms, change event layouts and provide demographic information for sponsors and advertisers that may be interested in your event.

The IoT train is leaving the station. Make sure your brand is on it.

It's a smart connected world we live in and if your company event or trade show isn't smart and connected, you're missing out on incredible engagement and analytical opportunities.

Want to learn more about IoT and stay on top of the tech trends poised to transform event marketing? We go a few fathoms deeper in our thought leadership booklet "Make It Better: The Web of Things Arrives" and and you can download it free now.

Jonathan Ronzio

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