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3 Min Read

From AI To Ethics: An Event Professional’s Insight Into The PCMA European Influencer Conference 2019

From September 22-24, the PCMA European Influencer Conference took place in Barcelona. Many of the sessions and topics during the conference circulated around technology, bringing up productive discussions on future challenges and trends that event professionals need to master as they are looking at ways to make their business profitable, now and in the future.

Looking Into The Future Of Events

The speed of technology and the current developments seem to change the nature of the events business as they open up new possibilities to the world of events, conferences, meetings and exhibitions. The current era we live in is characterized by the so-called elements of “VUCA”: Volatile – Unpredictable – Complex – Ambiguous. In the VUCA age, speed matters more than perfection. We must focus on what is possible (because anything can happen) rather than on what is likely to occur.

One of the key questions that I brought home from the PCMA conference was: “How can managers look 30 years forward into an increasingly uncertain future and translate this outlook into a plan for the next 12 months?” To me it seems unavoidable to know about trends and to observe the market by exchanging with peers, by attending industry conferences and by reading relevant news. To keep evolving, you have to let the world inspire you, and by that I mean the entire world: I do not only look at the events business itself, but also at other industries that may have adopted innovative ways of technology usage much earlier, hence serving as an inspiring example to follow. Why not replicate models of success from other industries and markets to your own business?

The Rise Of Artificial Intelligence

By now, we have lived several technology waves: first the internet, then the mobile age and then the era of web platforms. We are now looking at a “new wave” with the rise of Artificial Intelligence: The AI / Algorithm economy will be even more powerful than the previous ones as it is the combination of Big Data, AI and robotization. It will change the traditional way of working and doing business as well as our personal lives like none of the previous waves. AI and robots driven by big data will be as normal in our daily routines and business environments as the internet today.

Artificial Intelligence is about human imitation learning processes: Algorithms have to learn human behavior, which tends to be pretty unpredictable. Patterns help us humans to recognize, process and produce things with a minimal amount of data, time and energy. Algorithms need machines such as robots that translate these patterns into actions. Data is used to feed and build clever “brains” that may outperform human minds in building patterns. These patterns need to be fed with data - by companies that bought the data, ultimately serving production, marketing, supply chain, customer interaction…

One of the challenges in an AI safe environment will certainly be the training of efficient interaction with human beings. It will involve big data, but more importantly, also ethical and psychological questions. This will challenge professionals across all industries.

Customer-centric strategies and personalized communication

Personalization and individual ways of reaching people are key to success in the events business. As we further develop the concept of customer-centricity, we need to focus on connecting with many people through an individual approach that incorporates new ways of communication. After all, happy customers are the sales force of any events business as they form the foundation to a successful future. A customer-centric strategy should revolve around the desired customer experience, value-driven behavior, company culture, management, logistics and processes, and solutions and concepts.

While we are heading towards a world of automation, robots and machine learning, we must not forget about the value of humanity. More than ever. Companies need to put an emphasis on human values and communicate them in a much more powerful way than years ago. They need to show transparency and demonstrate ethical values along their business strategy, not only towards clients, but mostly towards their own employees and company stakeholders.