Beacons, apps, sensors, smart badges and cameras enable the precise measurement of visitor flows, whereabouts and behaviour patterns of trade fair participants. Trade fair organisers hope to gain profound insights into their visitors with this multitude of data collected through the increasing number of interconnected devices at trade fairs. But what happens to the individual needs, hopes and desires of each visitor, are they forgotten? Is the Internet of Things (IoT) turning visitors into things?
At the UFI Global Congress in November 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Gunnar Heinrich (CEO adventics & Scan2Lead) gave a presentation on “Digital Disruption” together with his colleagues from the Digital Innovation Committee Stephan Forseilles (easyfairs) and Matthias Tesi Baur (MBB-Media). Various controversial and thought-provoking topics were presented to the audience, stimulating a lively debate on the pros and cons of each topic.
The majority of the audience disagreed with the statement, but not by a large margin (54% vs. 46%). Various arguments were exchanged during the presentation. Below is a short summary of what was discussed by the experts on site, Tesi Baur and Gunnar Heinrich:
Yes, because our devices will make decisions for us. Yes, if we don’t mature in our digital behaviour and learn how to be critical of our devices’ decisions. The VW emissions scandal has shown that devices will tell us what we want to believe so that we are willing to buy more services. Our devices become our own little echo chamber.
Diversity will not generate business for a single company. This principle already works brilliantly at Facebook.
If we work with absolute transparency, we can prevent our visitors from feeling like things.
Visitors are more than biological robots carrying around our beloved RFID tags. And finally, it’s all about value again. We have to offer real added value to our visitors when we use modern technologies. An electronic shopping bag for digital brochures is definitely not enough. We will continue to have a face-to-face business and not a gadget-to-gadget. Only face-to-face can generate trust.
This article is based on Stephan Forseille’s post “Is IOT turning out attendees into THINGS?” in the UFI Digital Innovation group on LinkedIn. Stay in touch and up to date with digital innovations in the exhibition industry.
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Munich, 16 July 2018, © adventics GmbH