As EIBTM, the Global Meetings & Events Exhibition, celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary two weeks ago in Barcelona, it honored the winners—an overall winner and several finalists—of the EIBTM Technology Watch Competition. As a judge for the past two years, I have been a fly on the wall during the judging, listening in and commenting on the “new and innovative technology solutions that can make a significant difference to the industry.” I thought I might take a peek at the 2011 winners to see whether the companies survived and how their solutions have evolved in a highly competitive and fast-moving environment.
ITN International continues to ride the NFC wave
The top honor in 2011 was awarded to ITN International for its Citywide Credentialing System utilizing NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. The system allowed users in Amsterdam to use their badges from the trade show to access mass transit and area tourist attractions throughout the city. The badge also enabled attendee tracking, access control and exhibitor lead retrieval.
In 2012, ITN is on the cusp of a transformation in the events industry with the arrival of NFC-enabled Smartphones to the U.S. and ITN’s development of an NFC ecosystem around the event. In the past year, ITN has launched three new products:
- BCARD Reader Browser—a “universal” Android browser that supports lead capture with any Web-based lead management system at any event.
- NFC Paper—the event industry’s first paper NFC attendee badge.
- MobileAccess—an access control app that lets attendees change the sessions they have registered for “on the fly.”
Active Network powers forward in the event management space
Active Network was a finalist in 2011 for its ActiveEvents Insight platform, a suite of mobile applications that provides event organizers with a real-time “bird’s eye view” of the event including registration data, leads, social networking, exhibitors, sessions schedules, mobile app usage, room block activity, financial statements, speaker resources and event content on a tablet or Smartphone.
In 2012, Active Network continued its focus on event management solutions with a major acquisition and some key product launches. Early in the year, the firm announced the purchase of StarCite, a Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) and event registration platform. The company launched a mobile suite complete with personal event scheduling, local-attraction search, surveys, attendee-to-attendee messaging, gamification and QR-code contact exchange. It also rolled out ACTIVE Event’s Conference solution covering the corporate event lifecycle including logistics, engagement, metrics and business intelligence.
GenieMobile moves from DIY to Data
GenieMobile was recognized as one of four finalists in 2011 for its high-quality, easy-to-use, “do-it-yourself” (DIY) mobile app development tool delivering native apps for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, WindowsPhone and content to the Mobile Web. The DIY model enabled event organizers to obtain an app at a lower price point than similar offerings while maintaining control of the app content through a built-in content management system.
In the past 24 months, however, GenieMobile has changed its value proposition. Rather than focus on the DIY usability, the company has concentrated its efforts on “world-beating analytics,” says Michael Douglas, marketing director. In the current iteration of the GenieMobile platform, Douglas explains, “everything can be queried, analyzed and reported on—not just the usage stats, but all the event data. This brings to life the ‘LinkedIn for events’ analogy where you are learning everything about your audience, not through questionnaires, but through their natural behavior.”
Triqle Event Intelligence morphs into How Can I Be Social (HCIBS)
Triqle Event Intelligence was a finalist last year for its “What’s On?” application that displays the current and “next up” educational sessions on large monitors throughout an event. While the application is still alive and well, Triqle’s founder, Gerrit Heijkoop, launched a new venture in 2012 with partner Donald Roos called HCIBS (How Can I Be Social) to bring “What’s On?” and social media to the trade show floor. The objective of the new company is “to bridge the gap between the offline activity on the show floor and the online buzz on Twitter and other social media,” Heijkoop says. His social media “team” roams the floor reporting on event activities (via social media) and answering questions on social media while the “What’s On?” app displays program information and a Twitter feed.
Wifarer refines its ability to monetize digital space
Wifarer, an indoor positioning system, intrigued the judging committee in 2011 with technology to pinpoint a smartphone’s location to an accuracy of 1.3 meters within a venue. The system provides very precise wayfinding for attendees though a meeting venue or exhibit hall, while providing location-aware content delivery and aggregated attendee movement analytics. In 2012, the company “expanded its solution to the following verticals: shopping centers, museums, airports, hospitals, and universities. [Wifarer] continues to provide indoor “GPS” and high accuracy, location-based content to users on their smartphones and we now provide venues with the ability to completely control the content and monetization of their digital space.” says Lise Murphy, vice-president marketing.
The Takeaway: It’s a scramble to stay ahead of the technology curve even in an industry (meetings) that tends to be slightly behind the curve at times. EIBTM’s Technology Watch appears to be doing a good job targeting the companies and technologies that will move the face-to-face business forward and have some degree of “staying” power.