Why Technology Alone Will Not Move The Needle For Conferences


I’m a fan of technology.

I’m usually an early adopter of the next shiny tech tool for individuals. And I typically try to understand if and how that tech tool may help organizations, learning and conferences.

But, and it’s a big, big but: technology alone will not truly move your conference needle.

Technology Isn’t Your Savior

My email box is littered with announcements of the next great event technology.

Most of them have gone nowhere.

Occasionally, a new event technology—like the conference app–will truly move the needle. Usually though, technology is not enough.

Technology is not your conference savior. It isn’t going to make your conference successful. Or even increase your attendance. Or increase your revenue. Or improve your participant satisfaction.

Technology isn’t going to solve all your conference problems.

Our Conference Technology Expectations

A lot of meeting and event professionals are gung-ho about incorporating the next big shiny technology into their events. So they invest in it.

These conference professionals champion innovation. They believe that technology is the change agent needed to drive attendee ROI.

Here’s the real truth. We have to drop our expectations that technology is our savior for attendee engagement, conference growth or increased productivity in planning.

Strategy First

No matter how great the technology, it usually never sells or implements itself.

It’s the strategy behind the application of that technology that will make it. Or break it.

It doesn’t matter how sophisticated, expensive or cool the technology is.

If it doesn’t improve the conference participant’s experience, increase your planning productivity or isn’t scalable, you are wasting everyone’s time!

Technology is nothing more than a tool. It’s how that tool is used that is key.

You need a strategy and support system because technology cannot substitute for engagement or trust!

Customer Experience Layers Surround Technology

Technology is surrounded by multiple layers of customer experience says Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO.

The technology product is just the first layer. Additional layers impact the usefulness, implementation and effectiveness of that technology tool.

Two of those layers are storytelling and marketing. Effective storytelling and marketing can drive the uptake of that tool. They are critical to help conference participants understand how the tech tool will increase their conference value. And spread the message about that tool.

Human Centered Experience

In order for the technology tool to be effective, it is important to put human-centered design at the center of the conference technology equation.

Consider the entire chain of how the tech tool is implemented and used by conference participants.

Then create support structures to enable your technology tool effectively in your conference. You can’t just build it and expect them to come and use it.

Remember you can’t create learning with just a technology tool. Nor can you build and apply knowledge with the mere presence of technology in your conference.

Techno-tools, even with all their shiny appeal and promise, are nothing more than just that–tools. It’s your conference participants that really matter.

Your conference technology has to be subordinated to the participant’s experience. Start with your conference attendee experience strategy and then add technology where it’s appropriate.

How do you decide what technology you will invest in for your conferences? What types of techno-tools have you seen successfully implemented in conferences?

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