Enter the event technologist
When most people think of event planning, they imagine a fabulous party-like environment, lots of creative brainstorming and attending these amazing blow out bashes but those in the field know that’s not the reality. Instead, it’s late nights, long hours and endless details. And now with ever-advancing event technology, there’s a whole new skillset that the event professional is going to need.
Event technology has become such a fundamental part of the industry, that it’s set the industry on a new trajectory. As experts in the industry can attest, technology has become critical to success. Long gone are the days of just being proficient in excel – now it’s about using data analytics and insights, understanding security and privacy issues, knowing your way around attendee engagement apps as well as marketing automation tools and live streaming.
So what’s an event professional to do? Say hello to the Event Technologist – a new strategic role in the eventing industry. Think of the event technologist as a mix of a super IT guy but with eventing know-how. One of the biggest advantages for an organisation with an event technologist is having a single individual devoted to aligning event needs with technology to deliver on key performance indicators.
The event technologists will be responsible for having to navigate the entire technology suite, the complexities behind marketing platforms, all while performing essential data analysis and more. So while this role is a mouthful, it basically calls for problem solvers with a strong penchant for data collection and analysis.
The rise of this new role isn’t surprising, as the bar is constantly being raised in the event industry so modern event tech is a must-have. Given that every touch by an attendee produces data of some type, from the registration site, the marketing tech stack, attendee beacons, RFID, event apps, to hashtags and more – the events industry need technologists to help them navigate this technical minefield.
And the data firmly backs up the need for such a role. Research done by American eventing and meeting company, cvent revealed that only 38% of respondents consider themselves confident technology users and only 20% were tech-savvy.
A similar survey was done by U.K.-based Eventsforce done in October last year, also reveals a technology skills gap in the meeting /planning profession. In a survey of 145 planners in the U.S. and the UK, only 48 % of respondents consider themselves “tech-savvy,” and 75 % “struggle to keep up with new event tech trends and offerings”.
Further findings by Eventsforce showed that 91% of the event planners said that event tech was an important part of the job.
Eventforce’s findings also looked at the top challenges related to events professionals that centred around a lack of tech skills.
The report cited the following event tech challenges
- The biggest challenge for 65% of the respondents was the time it takes to complete the procurement and integration of new tech processes.
- Another 54% complained of managing the tech adoption across teams and other departments,
- Just under half, (47%) said their limited tech skills make them less confident in making informed decisions about the event tech selection process.
In South Africa, it’s a slightly different scenario. Gilda Narsimdas, the creator and Managing Director of Entourage Media, a boutique PR and Communications Agency, that has several high profile clients like The Disney Channel and The Johannesburg International Comedy Festival, explained the local situation.
She says, “Event technology is a big part of our event planning. We also use eventing software and apps but our needs are different. Yes, here in SA, events also have those strong “insta-worthy elements” and we do make use of data analytics as that’s the best way to get post-campaign reports and track the ROI but it’s not at that same international level just yet.”
Narsimdas adds, “ I think this trend might a little time to fully catch on in SA, especially for the smaller agencies but it will get here. Trends can take a while to make its way here, but given the rise of the fourth industrial revolution and the Internet of Things – it’s only a matter of time before event technologists are also sought after.”
So while data analytics might quite not be your cup of tea, the fact is event technology isn’t just a passing trend. It’s now a vital pillar of planning and executing events. If you’re looking to grow your career prospects, start your own company, or just want to develop your role and work towards becoming a business event strategist, you need to embrace the tech that comes with it. You will need to up-skill and get a full understanding of all aspects of the sector from event design, to data technology. And the sooner you get started on this the better.
Get ahead of the trend
Now that you know where the industry is heading, here’s how you can ensure you’re at the forefront of this wave. Here are some tips to help you get a head start on embracing the technology and upping your skillset.
- Get certified – Don’t shy away from the technology. If your company is investing in new technology, try to get training and even certifications if you can. Soak up as much as you can and try to learn at least two major event management software platforms or even the fundamentals of registration and mobile apps from the company perspective.
- Volunteer to be a trainer/ ambassador for implementation when your company adopts a new software programme. This way you become an invaluable employee, you’re upskilling yourself and it will look great on your CV.
- Set up a special interest group or club on event technology at your company so you can learn from the discussions.
- Attend industry events for planners to ensure you stay on top of the latest trends and learn more about your field.
- Hone your project management skills – look for courses you can do online and just keep learning.