Live Meetings Must Go Face-to-Face with Technology
By Carina Bauer CEO, IMEX Group | August 14, 2011
When new online technologies such as web-conferencing and Skype first came on the scene, the international meetings industry's first reaction was to view them more as a threat than an opportunity. Some research companies and 'experts' even happily predicted the total demise of the face-to-face meetings industry within 10 years, given that such technologies appeared to offer a compelling business case backed by significant cost savings compared to 'live' meetings.
However, others also understood the basic psychology of meetings and the need for human relationships to be created, developed and then consolidated face-to-face. At the time the world appeared divided into two camps. The 'meetings will die and IT will take over the market' camp and 'the meetings must and will evolve and overcome' camp.
The fact is that new technologies and devices have been moving at such an exceptional pace that ALL businesses and all industry sectors are being challenged to fundamentally change the way they operate as a result; be it in relation to their end-users, their suppliers, their employees or their stakeholders. Another certainty is that nobody can say where or when these changes are going to end; all we can be sure of is that now, more than ever, 'change is the only constant'.
The advent of online meetings, social media, mobile devices, free wifi and a host of other innovations has forced all parts of the meetings industry to sit up and pay attention and to carefully review how it operates and where its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats lie. As an industry, it has had to look closely at its USPs and publicly prove its full commercial value in a way that it has never been challenged to do before.
Compounding this period of analysis was the 'AIG effect' and the all too urgent need for the meetings industry to justify its benefits and status more broadly, and especially to government and law-makers in the US. As a result, a number of organizations and associations launched campaigns and research initiatives which many still draw on today to prove the ROI of face-to-face meetings but which also put technology and its added value into context.