Technology is an essential part of everyday business. We operate in an era in which people across continents rely on modern technology to conduct meetings—by connecting with colleagues and clients via virtualization technologies. Our peers and conference delegates converse in online forums and on social networking sites.
But as a result of these interactions and the ease with which they take place, technology threatens the idea that people need to attend business meetings, especially in cost-cutting times in which associations assume they can hold events online and realize the same outcomes as they would through a face-to-face meeting.
Many organizations already realize that technology cannot provide for the exchange of tacit knowledge that occurs in face-to-face meetings. It is this exchange that leads to the development of trust, cooperation and ultimately innovation for corporations and associations alike.
In fact, we expect to see the business events industry prosper as a result of technology, because face-to-face communication will become even more appreciated as the world becomes more digital. Too, business events benefit from the use of technology, and for this reason, the industry shouldn’t shy away from it.
Technology will not hurt the future of business meetings, it will enhance it. It is therefore critical that meeting planners integrate technology into their business events.
Technology provides a platform for delegates to share materials before, during and after an event. It helps delegates—who met at a business event—collaborate and build on future projects. It also reduces the amount of paper consumed in the form of pamphlets and folders, as another medium for information presentation.
Meeting planners should not be intimidated by technology. Instead, planners must embrace new modes of communication to support their associations or events, and indeed capitalize on the added value technology brings to face-to-face interactions.
JON HUTCHISON, A.M., is chief executive of Business Events Sydney in Australia.