A Look at the Event Industry’s Tech Skills Gap

New research reveals that many meeting planners don’t think they have the skills or knowledge to make informed decisions about event tech investments. Is there a way to close the gap?

I’ve been here at Associations Now for so long I remember a time when we didn’t have a website or any type of digital products.

That means, over the years, I’ve had to acquire new tech-related skills, such as learning how to use tools like WordPress, getting a basic understanding of search engine optimization, and knowing how to read and interpret data analytics.

I’m sure that as an association pro, you’ve experienced the same and had to learn some new tech skills too. But have you ever felt like you didn’t have the right skills or knowledge to make informed decisions?

Although that’s not a good place to be, you’re probably not alone. New research by Eventsforce revealed that 47 percent of event planners say they have “limited skills to make confident, informed decisions around their event tech investments, despite holding responsibility for it in the majority of organizations.” In addition, the study, “Are Event Planners Struggling with Event Technology?,” found that 91 percent of organizers believe event tech is an important aspect of their job, but only 48 percent consider themselves to be tech-savvy.

Challenges and Headaches

So, what hurdles do planners say they face when managing event tech? According to the study, the biggest issue for 65 percent of respondents is the time it takes to complete the procurement, implementation, and integration process of their event technology systems. That is followed by getting people to use the tech across the organization (54 percent) and managing the migration process from one system to another (42 percent).

What tools are most difficult to manage? The top five are data management (47 percent), live streaming (34 percent), event apps (32 percent), registration/event management software (30 percent), and project management systems (29 percent).

“The challenges of managing event tech are not going to go away for organizers—especially when you look at things like data management, reporting, and analytics and the increasing use of tech tools that help them collect an enormous amount of data on their events and attendees,” said Eventsforce CEO George Sirius in a press release.

What’s Next?

While the survey results show that event professionals keep up with tech by speaking with colleagues and peers (78 percent), reading industry blogs and news (50 percent), and attending tradeshows and conferences (48 percent), they also admit they don’t have the time or skills to tackle event tech head on.

How can that be overcome? According to research, the solution may be a new staff role: event technologist.

This is “an event professional whose job is to focus exclusively on all things event tech,” Sirius said. “Though the requirement of this role can vary from one event organization to another, it is something we are starting to see more of.”

While I like the like the idea of an event technologist and see the benefit, I also understand that many of you are probably reading this thinking, “We don’t have the budget to create a new staff role like this. What else can we do?”

In my opinion, probably much of what you’ve done in the past: Turn to your association’s technology team, vendors, and other partners for guidance and advice; learn from what your competitors are doing; and keep up with industry news and events.

But I also think it will also be increasingly important to hire people for your team—even if they aren’t an official event technologist—who have an understanding of event tech and how it can improve the attendee experience.

What steps have you taken to improve your own or your staff’s event technology knowledge? Tell us about them in the comments.

(pixelmaniak/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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