by Matt Alderton | January 11, 2013
The MPI Foundation has released the second white paper in its "Future of Meetings" research series, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) announced yesterday. Titled "Technology: Why Invest and What's Next," it explores new and emerging technologies — courtesy of researchers at Leeds Metropolitan University — that are shaping the meetings industry, not only in the present (e.g., Internet, mobile apps and social media), but also much further in the future (e.g., targeted audio, augmented reality and robotics).

"Meeting professionals may think that avatars, augmented reality and artificial intelligence are the stuff of sci-fi fan fiction, but these technologies could soon revolutionize meetings and save organizations from being the latest casualty of global economic crisis," write the paper's authors, Samantha Dixon, Reinhold Behringer and Jackie Mulligan of the International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality at Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom.

Based on their research — which explores both the costs and opportunities of technology, as well as the rate of technological change and the potential event applications of cutting-edge developments — the authors make the following recommendations:

• "Mobile devices in conjunction with social networks will empower delegates and communities. Channel this energy for the benefit of your events."
• "Virtual meetings will slowly become more widespread. Think about innovations in handling meeting information and delegate participation."
• "Invest in staff to keep ahead of technology advances. Determine who will own social media channels and stay in contact with experts. Increase awareness of any technology that may become disruptive."
• "Realize the worth of good, motivated technical staff. Any lessons learned from past technology investments — successes or failures — will make them better equipped for the next challenge."
• "Don't bind yourself to vendor-specific technologies, because they may soon become obsolete. Instead, rely on open standards, which are more future-proof than proprietary concepts."
• "Be prepared to take risks and equip yourself to make fast decisions. Sometimes these won't work out; allow for mistakes and learn from them."
• "Don't forget about the Cloud; it gives you flexibility and reduces risk."

"Why Invest and What's Next" is the second in a series of three white papers in Phase 2 of the MPI Foundation's Future of Meetings research initiative. It follows "From the Outside In" — which included five supplements, each containing an analysis of the meetings industry from professionals in other fields — and precedes "The Value of Connection – a Review of Social Media Trends," scheduled for release on Jan. 24.

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