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The Growing Importance of AI in Events
Artificial Intelligence might seem like the future, but it’s already here living among us. AI has begun to infiltrate the world of events and it offers the potential to enrich the delegate experience and make the lives of eventprofs easier.
So, what actually is AI?
AI is described as any task performed by a program or machine that, if a person carried out the same activity, we’d say that they had to apply intelligence. In the world of events, this artificial intelligence can be used to help personalise the delegate experience, improve engagement and provide support.
We must face our fears if we want to get the most out of technology — and we must conquer those fears if we want to get the best out of humanity, says Garry Kasparov. One of the greatest chess players in history, Kasparov lost a memorable match to IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1997.
As a research scientist at Google, Margaret Mitchell helps develop computers that can communicate about what they see and understand. She tells a cautionary tale about the gaps, blind spots and biases we subconsciously encode into AI — and asks us to consider what the technology we create today will mean for tomorrow.
Can I help you?
Many of us have seen or used the ‘can I help you?’ boxes that pop-up in the corner of websites, historically accompanied by a well-used stock image of a woman wearing a headset.
Live chat has evolved considerably since the early 2000’s and are now being increasingly integrated with programs known as chatbots. These AI tools have the real potential to take the pressure off eventprofs and provide instant assistance to delegates.
In the run up to an event and during live days, we’re all familiar with the typical questions that get asked, often about similar things such as parking, where the toilets are, and what the WiFi code is. Chatbots have the ability to answer a large amount of these common delegate questions, regardless of the different ways they might be phrased.
So, instead of having to send an email, call a helpline or find someone to ask at an event, delegates can simply type a question into their phone to be answered by a chatbot. The appeal is that they don’t need to download a new app – instead it can be built into existing commonly used apps like Facebook messenger.
This time it’s personalised
When it comes to larger events or exhibitions, it can be a lot harder to deliver a personalised experience for everyone who attends. By interpreting data from social media profiles such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, AI can make personalised recommendations, such as sessions to attend, exhibition stands to visit, and even suggest people you might like to network with. This does hold some GDPR challenges, but approval steps can be taken for delegates to opt into the process should they wish to benefit from it.
Onto the next one
As an event comes to a close, we all look to learn from measurement formats such as delegate surveys to improve the experience even further next time. AI could also support at this stage of a project by tracking patterns during an event, then using reasoning and machine learning to translate the data into logistical recommendations.
For example, this type of AI could measure footfall and registration data at past or similar events to then advise on layout, catering and much more.
AI today and tomorrow
As we work in an industry built on the power of real-time human interactions, the role of event professionals could never be replaced fully by artificial intelligence, but perhaps we should start seeing it more as an extra pair of hands or brainpower on a project. For example, the role chatbots can play in helping to reduce the pressure on helplines and helpdesks.
With the use of AI becoming more common across the events industry, we could see it starting to be applied in even more sophisticated ways to overcome a number of familiar challenges. Used properly, AI is an amazing technological evolution with the potential to improve both the delegate and event experience.
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