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AI's Impact on Trade Shows and Events: Welcome to the New Era

Over the last few months, we have all likely heard the term “Artificial Intelligence,” more commonly known as AI. AI has quickly become the predominant digital trend and topic of discussion online and across social media. 

So, what is AI? Artificial Intelligence is defined by Google as “the simulation of human intelligence by machines, especially computer systems. AI allows machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and perform human-like tasks.” 

My own understanding of AI is the use of existing data captured in different platforms and repositories to predict patterns and behaviors, hence there is Predictive AI. There is also Generative AI (GenAI) which can create new content, videos, text, images, and 3D models. It learns from existing data or patterns and uses that to generate new data with similar characteristics. 

AI has been in development since 2009 and progressing at a slow but steady pace. It was predicted to reach a point of fast, exponential growth, which we are witnessing this year. AI is augmenting human intelligence and already being used in a variety of industries and for a variety of purposes. There are things that we can’t achieve solely with human intelligence, and AI enhances our capabilities as humans. 

Many companies are racing to develop AI platforms, and the most popular so far is ChatGPT. It’s an open AI platform already used by over 100 million people to perform simple tasks such as writing an email, preparing a presentation, and even drafting a strategic plan. It's a gold rush for companies to develop Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that work with their current platforms to enhance capabilities and allow users to work faster and more efficiently with content generation, marketing, sales, and driving business growth. HubSpot is an example of this and recently introduced AI tools within its platform to help marketers leverage the database contained within its systems to support generation of emails, phone calls, Smart Chatbots (ChatSpot), and simple lead generation tasks. This is just the beginning of the AI launch and will soon be enhanced to perform more sophisticated tasks. 

The questions on many people’s minds are, “How does AI impact me and my lifestyle?” and “Will I lose my job?”. These are fair questions, as AI is capable of completing more tasks than a person would typically execute on a daily basis and there’s the possibility of AI replacing jobs. Simple and tedious tasks will likely be delegated to AI platforms, such as data entry or drafting basic content. However, we should have a similar perspective to the 1994 launch of the internet. It’s unstoppable and will revolutionize the way that we live. Instead of fighting it, embrace it. Your job will likely not be replaced by AI, but instead AI will assist you. By optimizing your time management and increasing efficiency, AI can provide you more time to focus on strategic and complex tasks such as writing that business plan that you’ve been wanting to, but you’re buried under emails and simple tasks that distract your attention. 

Industries will utilize AI in different ways to increase efficiency and optimize time management. For instance, at airports it’s already being used to identify faces, voices, and handwriting. People cannot produce the level of recognition that AI provides, even experts that specialize in identification. Facial recognition has had a rocky evolution due to privacy and security policies implemented by international governing entities. But it hasn’t been forgotten, and the next generation is in development to incorporate privacy laws that allow it to function in open spaces for the safety and protection of civilians. 

Companies such as Google and Apple are implementers of AI technology and we will see more product releases very soon. The difference between the two is that Google works with AI on the Cloud and Apple works with AI on its devices, such as your iPhone 14. AI is processing large amounts of data that the human mind couldn’t process or would take years to process. Google recently announced that Google Ads products will soon include AI with generative images and text creation. Marketers will just tell Google what they need, such as “I need a Siamese cat in front of a tropical waterfall with pink skies and a bag of my litter brand to help my consumers keep their house clean.” Google also just started Beta testing GenAI on their search engine. 

AI in the Trade Show and Events Industry 
What does AI mean for your next event or trade show? This is the million-dollar question. And the answer is, it depends. AI is growing fast and evolving every day, and companies will continue making new announcements and releases in the coming months. That being said, what we know today is limited but still useful. Many platforms are already using AI, such as HubSpot, Google, Apple, and OpenAI. Marketers can begin leveraging these platforms to target their clients and markets even faster. Content, graphics, assets, 3D models, images, and text can be produced within seconds with the help of these platforms. When planning for your event or trade show, your company and your partners can leverage AI to create content faster and rely on generative AI to move faster. I emphasize that even with these tools, designers, copy writers, and graphic designers will not lose their jobs. They will just be more efficient and able to produce content and assets faster.

We still need human teams supervising the creation of content, managing the approval process, and the production of assets (i.e., printing) but timelines will be compressed. AI platforms will integrate through APIs to automate processes, connect, and update tools with less “handling” from people, including text for emails, blogs, business plans, white papers, and infographics. With the right prompts on a platform such as ChatGPT, content will be generated in less than a minute. 

While AI has made remarkable strides in streamlining processes and increasing productivity in many industries, it cannot replace the invaluable face-to-face interactions that trade shows and live events offer. Trade shows provide a unique platform for professionals to connect, exchange ideas, and build meaningful relationships. During the pandemic, the absence of physical events led to a significant reduction in networking opportunities and revenue generation. The virtual landscape offers support but does not match the depth of human connection at live events. 

I hope this gives you some comfort and confidence that your job can be secured and improved with AI, and you’ll be able to move faster, more efficiently, and more strategically with your time. Just think about how you use AI at home with devices like Alexa and Google Home, giving voice commands to perform multiple tasks and releasing your hands to do other tasks while you cook, watch TV, or feed your family. It’s the same concept, but more elevated and targeted to align with business goals.  

We will see much more on AI released in Q4 this year and the beta instances that are released will be launched in bigger numbers in 2024, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, Lead Generation, Content Creation, Sales and Growth, Project Management, Content Management Systems (CMS), and even coding for Web3.  

My advice is not to fear AI, but embrace it, dive in, and start using it. Simple things that you can already start using and learning will put you far ahead of your competitors. Go ahead and create an account on ChatGPT.