The Internet of Things and Your Next Trade Show
One of the most influential technology trends to emerge in recent years is undoubtedly the Internet of Things, or “IoT” for short. In truth, it's already become such an important part of the daily lives of so many that you can hardly call it a “trend” and more so a way of life at this point. For those unfamiliar, the IoT is a term that refers to the idea of a network of countless devices (including everyday objects) that are all not only connected to the Internet, but that are also sending and receiving data between one another as well.
In our homes, the Internet of Things is how our thermostats can automatically adjust to the perfect temperature to make sure our houses are nice and toasty when we get back from work at the end of the day during the winter. In an industrial capacity, the IoT is how a piece of machinery can not only remind you when routine maintenance is necessary but provide information about exactly what needs to be fixed and when. In terms of your next big trade show, the Internet of Things brings with it a wide range of implications in particular that are more than worth exploring.
You're Going to Be More Connected Than Ever Before
One of the most important things to understand about the Internet of Things and an event like a trade show is that we're about to be more connected than ever before in more ways than one. Mobile devices have been a staple of these types of events for the last few years. Savvy exhibitors have begun using social media to get people's attention even when they're elsewhere in the building or before the show even starts.
But with the Internet of Things, this idea is taken to the next level. When the vast majority of people are walking around with smartwatches or other connected devices, you no longer have to hope that they check their phone to see your message – you can pretty much guarantee that they will because “maintaining this connection” is part of what the IoT was designed to do in the first place.
Thanks to the Internet of Things, EVERY attendee is a potential target at all times. Whether they're physically standing in front of you at the time will soon no longer matter. At a moment's notice, you can essentially “reach out and touch someone” via the IoT and their smart devices, which is absolutely a great position to be in… if you're ready for it. If you thought you had to be “always on” to make the best possible first impression during an event, guess what? You haven't seen ANYTHING yet.
You're Going to Have Access to More Data Than Ever Before, Too
When you've got these many devices all connected to both the Internet and to one another, you're also dealing with significantly larger data volumes than you ever have in the past as well. Indeed, the Internet of Things is a large part of why there is expected to be about 1.7 megabytes of new information created for every living person on the planet every second by as soon as 2020.
To trade show professionals and other sophisticated marketers, this is absolutely a double-edged sword. Yes, you're going to know more about trade show attendees than you ever have in the past while the show is still going on… but the need to be able to make sense of that data as quickly as possible will pose a challenge, to say the least. Going over all the leads and other consumer information that you're collecting will no longer be a reactive affair or relegated to something to be done after the show is over and when you return to the office. There will come a day in the not-too-distant future where you'll need to be able to do this in real-time, all the time, no exceptions.
This is going to require trade show professionals to invest in powerful analytical solutions that can help process these huge volumes of data as they're being created. Insight offered up by data does you absolutely no good if someone has already walked away from your booth. You're going to need to be able to process that data as it is being collected and something that digital marketers on the Internet have been hard at work at for the last few years.
But being able to automatically serve up an ad to someone using their data after they've navigated away from your site is one thing, but being able to accomplish the same thing after they've walked away from your booth to browse the show floor is something else entirely. This is going to require you to essentially change the way you think about trade shows, from a certain perspective. This is another part of the reason why the people you should be focused on are no longer just the ones that you can actually see or just the ones that are actually speaking to you.