As we make our way out of COVID-19, the business events industry must prepare with new skills and by understanding and embracing new business models.
“The coronavirus has drastically reshaped the economy and the labor force. Since its rapid spread around the globe, we have experienced titanic shifts in how we work, where we work, and the technologies we use to stay connected.”
So begins a Harvard Business Review article published in August. The article goes on to describe how this “massive change is escalating the importance of HR’s role within organizations,” as more human resources professionals are being asked to provide guidance on how to navigate “their ‘new normal.’” With that in mind, The Cognizant Center for the Future of Work and Future Workplace jointly undertook a nine-month study to ascertain how HR’s role might evolve over the next decade. “The brainstorm considered political, demographic, societal, cultural, business, and technology trends,” according to the article.
The result was the conception of more than 60 — sixty! — new HR jobs, with detailed responsibilities and competencies necessary for success. They ranged from such high-tech jobs as “Algorithm Bias Auditor” and “Chatbot and Human Facilitator” to lower-tech roles with such titles as “Distraction Prevention Coach,” “Chief Purpose Planner,” and “Director of Well-Being.”
What does this have to do with the business events industry and the role of business events strategists? Well, first, I see where some of those new HR roles point to the future of business events, like the “University4Life Coordinator” role — the only title in the story that includes clarification: “Using state-of-the-art AI platforms, this role guides lifelong learners toward the best, most relevant programs for their individual needs.” Obviously, adult training and education are the business events industry’s stock in trade, so the expectation that that role will grow increasingly important in the next two years — in omnichannel environments — has high relevance for us.
Moreover, PCMA has undertaken a similar analysis for our own industry, in a more compressed timeframe. The result of our in-depth study is the Business Events Compass, which is part of a larger, ongoing Recovery Discovery campaign of research, experimentation, and education to help our members and colleagues around the globe chart their path forward in these uncertain times.
We’ve identified three main elements essential to planning for the future of events: participant engagement, business models, and reskilling. And these principles are guiding the planning of our own events — a Global Recovery Forum for the APAC region taking place next month, and a fully reimagined Convening Leaders 2021 in January.
Just as the field of human resources is undergoing seismic changes, so are the roles essential to the business events industry. We are taking a leadership role in helping to shape what our future looks like — providing opportunities for our stakeholders to upskill and offering guidance on rethinking traditional business models for a new global environment, where all the rules keep changing.
While we have been battered by the effects of COVID-19, and we are still dealing with furloughs and layoffs, we are a resilient industry and we must look forward to a future in which business events will lead the economic recovery. We’ll need a different set of skills, greater emotional intelligence, a tighter grasp on technology, and a deeper understanding of who our audience is and what they need from us. Together we can get there.
Over the past six months, we have taken the pulse of our industry — planners and suppliers — biweekly and then monthly with our Recovery Dashboard survey. Your responses to our survey questions have helped shape the insights that frame our Recovery Discovery plan. Please continue to participate in the surveys, and take a look at recent Dashboard results.