Late in the afternoon on the first day of PCMA’s Technology Think Tank, held last week at the Vancouver Convention Centre, participants lifted off from the bottle-green waters of Coal Harbor in a pair of float planes, and spent the next 30 minutes flying over the tops of the neighboring pine-covered mountains and glittering glass skyscrapers.
The tour offered a new perspective on the city — an outcome that wasn’t so different from the Think Tank’s sessions, where 17 meeting professionals from Canada and the United States shared their meeting-technology problems and most successful strategies and solutions.
Pain Points: Mobile and Monetization
Participants brought a long list of challenges. Some said they’re trying to lead by example, technology-wise, while others are just trying to keep up with their tech-savvy members and attendees. “Keeping up with technology,” one participant observed, “is like playing Whack-a-Mole. Things keep popping up.”
Sitting on easy chairs and sofas, under what moderator and event technology expert Michelle Bruno, CEM, CMP, of Bruno Group Signature Events, called a confidential “cone of silence,” they talked frankly with one another about their problems, including:
- Finding revenue for investing in technology in already stretched budgets. Indeed, half of attendees said that lack of funds for technology innovation was their single biggest hurdle.
- Implementing mobile and responsive design
- Monetizing tech applications
- Designing apps that go beyond glorified program agendas and build community engagement year round
- Integrating meeting technology systems from different vendors into a seamless whole
The Way Forward: Five Apps and More
The conversation about technology, Think Tank participants agreed, has moved from the sidelines into the center of everything they do. “Our roles are changing dramatically — we can’t just hand this off to the IT department,” one attendee said. “We have to really understand the user experience.”
The conversation will continue beyond PCMA’s Technology Think Tank. “What I am looking to get from this Think Tank is a community,” an attendee said, “where we can share our problems and solutions and get through these obstacles and hurdles.”
Some takeaways to keep the conversation going:
- Some tablet apps popular with Think Tank participants include Expensify (for uploading receipts and tracking expenses), Counters+ (for room counts), iBrainstorm (for creating and sharing ideas), Speedtest.net (for testing a room’s bandwidth), and GoodReaders (for converting CAD files to PDFs).
- Ninety-one percent of attendees have a mobile device within reach at all times. Therefore, you should be delivering content on mobile.
- Why don’t like-minded associations come together and fund the development of open-source software that everyone can use?