It’s a thankless task to organise seminars at an exhibition
aimed at the meetings industry. Whatever you do, there are going to be people
ready and willing to complain. On the other hand, the presenters often don’t
This was certainly the case at Confex.
Take the session hosted by Musion as an example. It was
promoted as the ‘Musion Holographic showcase’. Having seen holograms in various
settings over several years I was interested in this.
It had nothing whatever to do with holograms. What they did
was very good but, as they said themselves, they shot the video they showed on
a normal video camera and projected it with a normal video projector. There was
not even a hint of a 3D image which is, when all’s said and done, what a
hologram is: a 3D image.
So why did they say it was a ‘Holographic showcase’? The
presenter said it was because the tabloids had claimed that they were using
holograms. In fairness, when asked about it, he freely admitted that it had nothing
to do with Holograms. Which raises a fundamental question: why claim in print
that your session includes something that you know it doesn’t include?
As the first session of the day, it didn’t instil much
confidence. The second session was even worse. It was billed as describing ‘the
conference suite of the future’. But it didn’t.
Maybe the unquestioning fans of anything that seems even
remotely futuristic will have enjoyed it but it was a let-down. The most
blatant missed opportunity was the claim that sessions would involve ‘delegates
taking charge’. The presenter showed an extremely confusing slide listing some
of the qualities that might be possessed by some delegates in some sessions. He
included the fact that every audience included somebody with a Blue Peter badge
but omitted to explain how any of these qualities might be employed within a
He went on to talk about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) but
only talked about the problems involved in going down that route. He offered no
What did we learn from this session? Very little.
At a different session, a presenter made the breathtaking
claim that the advent of social media would have more impact than the
Industrial Revolution. All he succeeded in doing was demonstrating that he had
absolutely no understanding of one of the most important eras in British
Social media is extremely important in some areas of modern
life but it won’t result in a wholesale shift of people from the countryside to
the cities as the Industrial Revolution did. Social Media won’t bring about
riots in the streets and the killing of people at a public meeting by the
military as happened during the Peterloo Massacre. It might, in time, be seen
as an interesting shift in the way people communicate but the claim was, to say
the least, ill-advised.
The final session that is worth commenting on involved a
presenter talking about ‘Big Data’. It looked like one of those situations
where a sales person sees a technical term and thinks it sounds sexy so why not
Just to be clear, Big Data is a collection of data sets so
big that normal processing techniques are incapable of managing them. One
online definition reckons that a Big Data set will involve around 1 million
terabytes of data. It’s way beyond what 99 per cent of the business community will
experience because it will involve hundreds of millions of records as a minimum
So what did this presenter mean? In the meetings industry, a
big database probably involves oh, let’s see, maybe 30,000 records? That’s a
long way short of ‘Big Data’.
In fairness to the Confex organisers, other sessions may
have been far more informative. Sadly, there were too many that fell short of
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