The Internet of Things has fast become one of the main buzzwords in the tech world. But what is it, exactly? According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to “a network of items – each embedded with sensors – which are connected to the Internet”. Put simply, any object used in everyday life can become a smart object when connected to the Internet. This way, they can provide useful information and work autonomously, thus becoming a lot more efficient.
In the past couple of years, this market has been expanding, with an expected growth to about $520 billion in 2021. This technology trend is mostly applied in fields such as smart cities, industry, building, connected cars and smart energy.
As the event industry faces recurring questions on how to stay relevant in the era of digitisation, IoT technologies can enhance event performance on different levels.
Now more than ever, the event industry is dependent on big data. From logistics to creative delivery and attendee experience, everything can be tracked down and accounted for. Strategically placing IoT devices around an event site not only helps to make things run smoothly for attendees, but it also makes the measuring of an event’s success more precise.
The more attendees are connected to the Internet and interact with different devices, the more data can be gathered from their human actions.
Connectivity technology is the most applied IoT in the event industry. This includes BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), GPS, NFC (Near-field communication), RFID (Radio-frequency identification) and WIFI. Mobile or tablet, badges and wearables are the main formats compatible with connectivity technologies during events.
So, which areas are ready for this kind of disruption?
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Attendee engagement is at the centre of event plans – and success.
NFC devices such as the iBeacons used at SXSW provide new options to create unique and engaging moments. Through this signal, guests can have easy access to schedule, check in into the event and get directions around the event space.
Taking it a step further, beacons allow staff members to read visitor data to give a more personal experience. In particular, wearable devices can direct attendees towards specific sessions or talks, or even recommend them other attendees they should meet, based on their profile.
The data generated by these interactions can be a valuable asset for marketers to send customers relevant and personalised content. In the event industry, this means post-event information and feedback opportunities based on what each person did, which sessions they attended, which exhibitors they interacted with and how they utilised the event systems throughout their visit.
Imagine tapping on a poster or product through your smartphone to receive more information and express your interest. Through NFC, exhibitors could have access to a list of potential customers with whom to conduct business. At the same time, attendees can receive another list with the names of the exhibitors visited and more details on their service offering.
Invite attendees to connect to the WIFI network or to add a BLE chip into their badges. This can generate a heat map tracking attendees’ location. This way, you can gain insights on which area of an event is more engaging, which one needs improvement and how attendance changes based on days and hours.
Through this data, organisers can have a better understanding of what happens during an event in real time. This has, of course, a logistical impact: if it looks like a specific session will have less attendance than anticipated, the location can be moved just by communicating the change directly to smartphones. A fast and simple way to turn a half-empty room into an exclusive atmosphere or avoid over-crowded rooms if attendance ends up being too high.
Smart building is one of the main areas in which the Internet of Things is applied. In fact, it is ideal to prevent possible safety concerns. In smart buildings, windows and doors can be controlled wirelessly with the help of beacons and cameras. The same thing goes for air conditioning, lightning and other environmental controls, which can be adjusted remotely to meet sudden changes. Unwelcomed visitors can be kept out with minimum human interaction and welcomed guests allowed in thanks to security systems.
Like many other innovative technologies, the Internet of Things carries many possibilities for data gathering and automation during events. A thoughtful application of these tools, together with a correct interpretation of data metrics, can really take your organisational skills to the next level!
This article is based on external and internal research data by MCI.