Megatrends: Internet of Things and Tomorrow’s Talent and Education

No wonder even our home-grown flowers can now be connected through an app so that we can ensure that they thrive in the right pot and humidity. That is all done thanks to what is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is defined by Oracle as “the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet.”

When it comes to our world of meetings and events, we have certain restrictions as to what we can connect to IoT in a strictly in-person meeting environment. And now, post-COVID, we see the difference between the data that can be collected online, at a virtual meeting, versus that onsite. We face a lot of privacy issues onsite, with facial recognition or RFID tracking for example, but we don’t have the same issues online, where tracking seems to be a norm, but where we observe literary every move of each participant. After globally streamlining what are cookies, enforcing GDPR, and having clear opt-out options at each website or online communication, it seems that we all feel alright with giving our consent by clicking a button, but we have an issue when real people are involved.

The problem that I can identify is the lack of clarity on how event organisers use the data collected onsite and the lack of confidence in keeping the attendees’ confidentiality. We need to work hard to gain the trust of delegates, especially because actual human beings are involved in this process. And because the collected information will help the future programming of the event, ultimately to the benefit of the delegate. Only then we can fully make use of IoT and make sure that the technology around one event can be as supportive as possible and not in an obtrusive way. For that we need transparency and to involve the participants in the process.

Moving forward, many of the positions within a professional conference organisation (PCO) like ours, will come down to reading and understanding complex data and applying it to future scenarios. However, an interesting side-effect of the increased use of technology and IoT would be the need to hire talents with an increased Emotional Intelligence (EQ). A future of high automation and heightened use of AI would mean redistribution of labour, and what would be more important than ever, especially in events with the high frequency and interaction of people and team members, would be a real human experience. Having kind, understanding people that can truly support the delegates would be making a difference.

Here I end with a few big questions. What will be the implications for the future of education? How can we optimally use IoT for better conference programming and having actionable results for the delegates? What does that mean for speakers? How do we translate this to our talents and apart from high EQ, what other skills would we need?

The opportunities are endless.


By Ori Lahav, VP Clients & Operations