Thankfully, I was too busy with work yesterday, particularly in the morning, to tune into the Steveosphere. I knew the news. I know the news. The iPad. I get it. I don’t like the name, but I get it. I have read so many opinions pre-news and now, post-news, that I’m already tired of it. But, alas, here we are and I’m writing about it. I think it’s important. I think it’s revolutionary. And I think it’s rockin’.
I’ve used tablet PCs for the past few years in events that we supported, so I was really interested to see what my meeting/event colleagues had to say about the iPad. I keep up with two in particular, Samuel J. Smith and Midori Connolly, and they’re right on point with their thinking around how the iPad will impact conferences and events – for both attendees and brands/exhibitors. They’re projecting and predicting all of the different ways that this device will enable deeper, richer, more meaningful interactions betweens brands and consumers. (Read them, follow them if you’re interested in this space.)
These events are “closed” environments where technology that fulfills multiple needs is used and effective. In my experience, we found tablets to be effective at displaying digital (and interactive) content for intimate, 1:1 scenarios. This focused, 1:1 time was very meaningful for the brands and the relationships they were developing with key attendees. We also hooked bar-code scanners up to the tablets so we could capture leads directly into our system. The bar-code scanners were clunky, but highly effective at data capture and expanding our footprint in the booth. The mobility of tablets is perhaps their greatest strength, especially in a setting like this. They allowed us to use the entire booth to our advantage rather than limiting attendees to stationary screens. And on top of everything else, they’re cool, which tends to work in the brands’ favor more often than not.
Right now, I think this is the most reasonable expectation for “mass” use – a closed environment with specific needs. Attendees won’t need to own them. They’re a low cost to brands/exhibitors. But to both audiences, they present a huge value proposition – exposure, expanded capabilities, enhanced experiences and we can’t forget the cool factor. I hope brands/exhibitors will listen to the Samuel’s and Midori’s of the world when planning their next event. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think the brick & mortar events are going away anytime soon. Certainly not before these things can be used effectively in this environment.
Out of this environment, they’ll eventually catch on for the masses. Eventually, they will be part of our lives. Eventually, they will be my kids’ Trapper Keeper, which, as a lover of organization, is an awesome thought.