Blog: Technology as a facilitator

Technology can add novelty and interest but it should be a facilitator in the process not the sole focus
Technology can add novelty and interest but it should be a facilitator in the process not the sole focus

Oliver Richardson from DB Systems says it's common for brands and agencies to make the mistake of letting technology lead the event, rather than have it complement the activity.

As leaders in event technology, we often get approached by brands or agencies looking to use a particular piece of technology at their next event. Often they’ve seen something in the news about how it’s the next big thing, and they want to position themselves ahead of the game and demonstrate their superior tech-savviness by making use of it in a live environment.

Sometimes there is something about the technology which lends itself to their own product or service, but more often than not they make the mistake of leading with a technology itself rather than thinking about what they want to achieve and how best to do this. 

Recently, we were approached by a brand looking to 3D print a miniature version of their product as give-aways at an event. It seemed like an innovative and unusual idea but on further discussion it became apparent that it didn’t really offer any value – in fact, worse, it detracted from the value of their product in every way; 3D printers are still relatively new and novel, particularly for consumers. While they can achieve some impressive results, they are not particularly fast and the quality of output while impressive is, without a doubt, sub-standard to what can be achieved by manufacturing. So they would have been making their customers wait, and then give them something sub-standard to the actual product itself. It was a total lose-lose situation. 

We talked to them about ways in which they might involve their visitors on the stand in creating something, rather than being passive recipients of a creation. We discovered that they worked closely with a charity in the community and were planning to promote their work with the charity at the event too. 

We looked at 3D print technologies and suggested that, rather than using a 3D printer which works with complex computer-aided-design programmes, they use a 3D printer pen which emits a sticky plastic substance that can be used to craft 3D models quickly and easily without any real design skills needed - it "prints" as you go, so there’s no wait time either.

We discussed the possibility of a design your own 'X' type of competition, but it would have been a little complex for the average consumer to create something meaningful in a short amount of time. Instead we suggested connecting into the charity they were promoting by using the 3D printer pens to encourage people to donate money to a charity they work with.

They make a donation, sign their name with the 3D pen and the signature is added to a "tree" of signatures, with a digital display showing the total live amount donated. We integrated that with a twitter feed and photobooth so that we could talk about the donations made and encourage people to visit the stand to add their name to the donation tree.

The end proposal was very different to the original idea they came to us with and it reminded me of the importance of making sure there is value and purpose to the solutions we provide. That purpose can be simply to attract people to your stand. Many of the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headsets we’ve provided have been solely for this purpose, but it is without doubt a stronger proposition if it connects in some way to your brand and brand values. For example, the virtual reality headsets we provided attendees at a pharma show let them experience a journey around a beating heart and showed them details of how a particular medication worked, rather than just being an off the shelf VR game.

Event technology is at the heart of our business, but when talking with customers we put it aside to get to the bottom of what their aims and objectives are, and then explore the best ways to achieve this. Technology should be a facilitator in the process, it can add novelty and interest, and slickness and sophistication, but to be really effective it shouldn’t be the "thing" itself.

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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