TEDxMelbourne’s Jon Yeo Forecasts AI’s Impact on Business Events

By Jon Yeo

I haven’t yet seen artificial intelligence [AI] used as a stand-alone technology at business events, but I do see AI-supported tech for attendees and event organisers.


Jon Yeo

For organisers, I see that AI has most benefit for large-scale, complex events, as opposed to small or bespoke experiences. For large conventions, logistics will hugely benefit from AI. Anything from people flow, food distribution, layout and power, security, and hospitality can all be supported with AI.

For attendees, they could be serviced by AI that can provide directions and answer questions. Can you imagine AI directing a blind attendee, translating languages, or providing real-time content? What about relevant event announcements based on preferences? Or helping like-minded people meet?

The challenge is the complexity and lack of interoperability between technologies. As an ex-IT guy, I see these problems growing as the internet of things [IoT] and smart devices become part of our day-to-day lives. Security will be a big part of this.

Future Workforce

Currently, the skills required to create and manage AI technology are not common among the people responsible for managing events. In the short term, most AI experts need to be hired from outside of the industry. And vice versa, a data scientist does not have marketing skills or event logistics skills.

However, the analysis and interpretation of event data could be done by AI. Much of that is very manual at the moment and done by marketers and logistics specialists.

I see jobs expanding and new roles being created in this industry in the short term. Factory robots only replaced people when the worker had a single specialised task that was repetitive. The events industry hasn’t hit that threshold yet. Probably because people can do random and spontaneous things at events.

The best event organisers take a controlled environment and work toward creating an experience that people will remember. This directly translates into customer experience design, as well as employee engagement — both of which will be the differentiators for organisations of the future.

Jon Yeo is a past chapter president of Professional Speakers Australia and leads TEDxMelbourne as licencee and curator.

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