AI, is it really though? How to ensure your event tech AI delivers

There’s been a lot of talk amongst the eventprofs about AI (artificial intelligence). They are all good questions and we’re glad they asked them…

Dahlia El Gazzar

There’s been a lot of talk amongst the eventprofs about AI (artificial intelligence). They question whether the event tech that launched over the last 24 months really has AI in it.  Moreover, what does that AI really do that benefits event participants, exhibitors and organisers? They are all good questions and we’re glad they asked them…

Not everyone is an expert, especially when it comes to organising events. You’ve got content to create, sponsorship opportunities to sell, operational plans to deliver. Can you really be an expert on AI too? Well, if that’s your job, hurrah. If not, read on... 

We’re going to make this simple and look at what question you need to ask of your event tech provider if they claim their platform uses AI. 

But first: matchmaking and recommendations have been around for years, do we need AI? 

Recommendations are not new. Although far less manual than they were 15 years ago, the theory is simple. When an exhibitor signs up for your event they tell you what product categories they sell. When a visitor registers, they tell you what they’re most interested in. When you get two categories that match, your software makes the recommendation of who should meet whom. It’s pretty much like that old favourite card game Snap. Simple right? 

But, how do you get better at Snap? 

Apart from improving your skills in probability prediction, learning to read cards faster or training your hand to move like lightning to get to the pile first as you exclaim “SNAP”… there’s not much else you can do. This is much like basic event technology matchmaking software. You’ve offered a simple recommendation, it may be good, it may be bad and if the latter, you lose the interest of your event participant. 

Sticking with the gaming theme, what if we could level you up with a bit of a Trivial Pursuit?

Traditionally you play this game with human intelligence, however the difference with Trivial Pursuit and Snap is that with every question, with every game, you learn. You learn and you improve your chances at winning the next game as you start to recall answers. You could read more relevant books to subject areas you’re weak in, learn a little more and prepare yourself to improve your chances next time. Doesn’t that make the game experience better for you (if you win anyway)? 

The basic comparison of traditional matchmaking vs artificial intelligence revealed:

  • Traditional matchmaking = Snap
  • Artificial intelligence matchmaking and networking = Trivial Pursuit

How can AI be used to improve event experiences? 

Once you have the basic recommendations (those tags we talked about earlier), the AI is constantly working behind the scenes to make smarter recommendations. The software learns from your interactions, clicks, likes and searches within the event platform. Much like subscription services such as Netflix, the software is constantly working to offer you improved recommendations based on what you’ve done before. 

In events, for every positive recommendation (meeting requested or interest shown for example) you will be returned with even better opportunities to engage at the event. For every product you don’t like, it learns they are not of interest to you and moves on. The more a user engages with the sessions, products or people, the more it learns. Constantly improving experiences and reaching closer to a better net promoter score.  

It's not just down to the individual either. The benefit of having potentially thousands of similar audience types in the same room is that the software creates look-alike audiences, showing profiles which match as it starts to learn what these participants interact with and respond to. Every time an event participant interacts in your event tech platform, it increases the experience for all the other attendees too. 

What questions you should ask to understand if your event tech really is using Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial Intelligence is hard to define if you can’t ‘see’ it. AI can be applied in so many different ways and as a result there is no foolproof way to tell if software is really using AI. However, there are some telltale signs or questions to ask that may indicate whether or not AI is at work:

  • Product Roadmaps
  • Check your supplier's software roadmaps and specifically for functionality or updates around AI. If you notice that the software you're using is constantly evolving and product updates are being released regularly, it’s a good sign
  • Search Linkedin
  • Does your event tech supplier’s list of employees on Linkedin have someone who is dedicated to working on machine learning algorithms? At Grip we have a few :) If your tech provider doesn’t employ anyone dedicated to their AI, that’s a red flag. 

If your supplier can offer a resounding YES to those telltale signs above, you’ll know the platform is AI-ready and able to start enhancing experiences at your next event. 

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