Originally published by Daniel McKinnon, VP, Global Client Solutions, FreemanXP
How evolving global dynamics impact the events industry
These days the personal is the political, and business is political as well. Whether a business wears its partisanship on its sleeve or stays carefully neutral, there is no denying we are all affected by geopolitical forces that are often outside of our control.
In this ever-changing environment, businesses increasingly find themselves on shifting ground. While technology has allowed the events industry to engage people around the globe, fluctuating demographics and an evolving media landscape mean that attitudes are also changing rapidly.
CEIR Predict recently presented a critical opportunity for C-level executives in the events industry to assemble and discuss, peer-to-peer, the present, the future, and how to stay relevant no matter what tomorrow brings.
The present: economic tortoises and digital hares
The times we live in are nothing if not interesting. With enormous leaps in technological advancement and a geopolitical stage that is anything but stable, it takes deep expertise to keep a finger on today’s pulse. Fortunately, experts were on hand for CEIR Predict, sharing their insights on the state of the world and how it affects the event industry.
On Day 1, we heard from Gregory Daco, Iain Donald, and Dr. Allen Shaw, with a focus on the economy, immigration, and geopolitics. These experts agreed that threats loom in the form of U.S. disruption, a changing global power structure, regulatory fragmentation, and the threat of terrorism. Despite these threats, they presented a picture of sustainable and steady growth: World GDP growth is accelerating, global inflation is increasing by only modest amounts, and the Euro-area economy is gaining momentum.
Speaking of momentum, Day 2 saw phenomenal presentations from Haluk Kulin and Sergei Gepshtein, as well as from David Saef, Meta S. Brown, and Hyoun Park. Both talks focused on data and analytics, with Kulin and Gepshtein’s presentation offering a fascinating exploration of how the world has rapidly transformed from physical to digital. Since there is a large volume of data now available to us and more being added at a breakneck pace, the importance of data strategy was emphasized as being more important than ever. While creating a 360-degree view of data pulled from various sources is very aspirational for most, the key message was to start small and grow from there.
The future: a changing world
The events industry, like most others, is directly influenced by the health of the economy. Daco, Donald, and Shaw were cautiously optimistic. Dr. Shaw presented this year’s CEIR report, showing that growth projections for 2017 through to 2019 are still on the upswing, with the top performing sectors for events being Government, Food, and Construction.
However, they expressed concerns over global instability, specifically with regard to long-term economic prospects. Risks they identified include falling immigration numbers, diplomatic disputes, the impacts of Brexit, and terrorism.
Changes are also taking place in the world of data and science. Sharing information with attendees is increasingly less about passive viewership and more about active immersion in an event experience. Sensory input will continue to become even more important, affecting how our brain curates our perceptions and enables attendees to better define their own experiences.
In these scenarios, data becomes critical — from the way we measure it, to the way we use it and share it across business silos to gain a true, 360-degree view of our results.
Preparing for the future
The consensus at CEIR Predict was that today’s rapidly developing technologies are presenting event organizers with new tools to better survive our current economic uncertainties. The experts encouraged businesses to look beyond physical boundaries and instead seek out new ways to engage with an increasingly mobile workforce. Ideas worth further exploration include remote teams, virtual events, and lean, mobile events.
By leveraging these opportunities, the exhibitions industry can tack their sails in changing winds and take advantage of the chance to reach new audiences.
How will we know which way the wind is blowing? Data. Staying on top of that data, and making sure we have the complete picture, will be crucial in identifying trends, successes, and opportunities for growth.