The Future of Event management?
‘This is the future’ someone I held with huge respect said. ‘The Sunrise industry. This is the industry which will see the highest amount of traction and action. Don’t spend time thinking, take the plunge.’
Traction and action it has seen. Though not of the kind he foretold.
I have been a part of the industry for over 20 years, from the time when it was novel to tell someone you worked with one of the leading event management companies in India. The quizzical looks on the faces coupled with the fact that no one really understood what you did for a living, turned us into an elite clique of young achievers. Those who didn’t know wondered what it was all about. Those who knew, kept it to themselves.
With the crazy number projections floating around in those days, many of us firmly believed it was a matter of time before event management would get official industry status from the government. A belief which is yet to fructify. We are, even today, looked upon as an extension of an advertising agency service. A status which will not change in a hurry.
While the industry has progressed, it hasn’t really moved in the way people thought it would.
Today disruption is the name of the game. Technology is forcing old school businesses to reinvent themselves, gear up for new competition and new norms.
The event industry, however, hasn’t been disrupted by technology. It has been disrupted by the low barrier of entry, coupled with the external desirability and attraction of working in the glamour industry.
It still attracts a large number of people, from diverse backgrounds.
It is easy to set up a business in event management, as it really doesn’t require any heavy investments. This has led to anyone and everyone with a little experience, a lot of flair and (perceived or real) talent on organizing things to move into the industry.
This low barrier of entry has worked against the industry itself, with a large number of charlatans masquerading as event managers also managing to pick up a piece of the pie.
It has diminished the role of an event manager, to merely providing technical and décor support, in turn leading to an overall drop in the pricing, quality, profitability and charm of being associated with the industry.
So are we seeing the end of the industry? I don’t think so.
Disruption forces change. And change is always good. It is making the better event managers sit up and ask the question, ‘how can we do it differently?’
And while many find newer destinations, themes and execution formats, the one thing that will truly define the future is the use of technology.
Technology provides the ability to do great stuff. And it is only the future ready event managers and organizations who will be in a position to leverage technology to their advantage.
I am not speaking of technology used in creating a great execution of an event. While that is equally important, I am speaking about technology which resides outside the traditional domain of event management.
And the ability to integrate an online and offline experience, will go a long way in enhancing the services provided by event managers to their clients.
Algorithms are the heart of any successful online business. It helps businesses understand their customers better and predict their behaviour. Will we see the use of algorithms in creating a better researched solution for an event execution, anticipating the behavior of attendees to proactively cater to their needs?
AI is evolving every day. In fact the top technology companies are investing huge sums of money to lead the wave. Can that be involved some way in creating a great experience for customers and their guests? Can we for instance have a fully automated self learning machine system, which builds an equation with customers and attendees over periods of time?
Can we look at Big Data being mined to create a bank of knowledge for common use among event managers?
Can we look at VR & AR becoming more real than they already are?
There is enough and more research being done in each of these fields with some interesting results. The question is how long will it take us, as an industry to take constructive steps toward the overall enhancement of our services?
Is this our future?
Are any of these the future? Or will something new define trends in the years to come?
All I can safely say I know, is that I know nothing.
20 years ago, a laser show was state of the art. A couple of laser shows a month, and your annual targets were achieved. Today, the same technology is outdated, and available at a mere pittance compared to the pricing offered then.
Everything has changed, except one thing. The good old event manager’s obsession with ‘Jugaad’.
And it is this ‘Jugaad’, which will ensure that we continue to try new stuff. Experiment with newer technology and formats of execution. Try to differentiate. Because differentiation is the only thing that will help us survive the onslaught of mediocrity.
We will definitely see change. How it pans out is something we will all have to wait and watch.