Is this the brink of a new age? Richard Dodgson, CEO and founder of Timebased, shares his thoughts on what will be “the most dramatic industrial revolution in human history” and what it will mean for the events industry

Technology is evolving at a phenomenal rate, so much so that it is sometimes hard to keep up with what new gadget or piece of tech is now available. Especially within emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), all of which have experienced dramatic breakthroughs over the last ten years.

These developments have resulted in us all evolving with and adapting to the new tech. Take for example, the Internet of Things. It has transformed basic everyday items, such as toothbrushes and speakers, into web-enabled, interconnecting gadgets – ultimately making our lives easier.

Technology has also significantly affected the way we communicate. We can now connect with strangers on the other side of the world through game consoles, get real time updates of world news on our phones and spark discourse between multi-national conglomerates and the general public via Twitter. If one day these new tools were to vanish, I’m sure a large majority of the population would find themselves lost.

But what does this all mean and why should you care?

Well simply put, we are on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). As technology continues to develop and evolve and new technologies are created, the way we live, work and relate to each other will be fundamentally altered. It could be argued that we are already in this period of human history and as we move further into it, every industry in every country will be affected and reshaped, including the events industry.

As event organisers, it is our duty to be a step ahead of our clients and audiences. We need to be able to understand new emerging technologies; how they work, how they can be integrated and how they will affect our events and audiences.

Once an understanding is in place, we can then utilise our creativity to seamlessly integrate these new technologies into events. Those of us who will succeed during and after the 4IR will be the individuals and businesses which are agile and dynamic in adapting to these changes and making full use of the opportunities they present.

As we move further within the 4IR, clients and audiences will increasingly be looking for event organisers who are able to provide this service. You will already be aware of the growing number of client briefs that demand an agency that can use digital solutions for producing exciting sets and enhancing audience engagement, whilst also collating as much relevant data as technically possible to be used for future interactions.

Fortnite’s Marshmello e-concert is a prime example of an event which utilised the opportunities emerging technology had presented. Although the concert was not the first of its kind, it was able to gather more than 10 million people to the virtual performance via the game’s platform and more than 27 million when streaming services were considered. All who attended did so from the comfort of their own home. Although this isn’t currently relatable to us all, it touches upon how far we have come in the way events can be put on.

The key thing we now all need to begin doing, is educating ourselves in emerging technology. You may not need to put on a virtual concert but who’s to say you may not need to implement AR so those who couldn’t make the event in person, may attend via VR headsets? Or you may want to put on a stunning 3D printed centre piece and combine AR with it, so that your audiences can be spellbound by animation as they take photos of the sculpture.

Clients and audiences are searching for the next “wow” factor, and we, as event organisers, need to be prepared to offer this. An activation which doesn’t showcase an awareness and incorporation of new tech will deemed dated and mundane. To succeed in the 4IR, you have to understand, integrate and utilise new tools to push the boat out and capture your audience. We are creatives and if we are unable to integrate the tech of the 4IR into our events, then we will be left behind.