Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 2014

What's Next For Apps?

By Barbara Palmer, Senior Editor

QuickMobile CEO Patrick Payne on what's ahead for mobile event apps — from deeper engagement to immediate feedback to year-round communities.

There's good reason to pay attention when Patrick Payne, co-founder and CEO of Vancouver-based QuickMobile, talks about what's next for mobile apps. For starters, QuickMobile was the fastest-growing technology company in Canada last year, according to Deloitte Canada, which named it to its 2013 “Technology Fast 50” list.

Just as compelling, however, is the company's record of being out in front of the pack. Founded in 2006, QuickMobile launched its first event app for smart-phones in 2008, just months after the iPhone was released. QuickMobile began developing an event app for the iPad for Accenture, the global management and technology consulting company, even before the iPad was introduced in 2010.

Although a survey conducted last March by Frost & Sullivan showed that a minority of corporations and organizations use apps at events — less than 30 percent — they “soon will become commonplace,” Payne writes in “7 Predictions for the Mobile Event App Industry in 2014,” a white paper that QuickMobile released in January. The rise of mobile event apps will be fueled by new features, Payne said in a recent interview with Convene, as well as by the public's growing use of and sophistication about them, including retail apps.

“We expect more now,” he said. Meeting planners want to collect real-time information through tools like surveys and polls, and attendees want to find and collaborate with like-minded people at events. “There's a newbreed of event apps.”

Payne's predictions about what's ahead include:

Mobile event apps will transform engagement.
Until now, meeting organizers have tended to focus on an app's ability to replace paper programs. But things really get exciting, Payne said, when apps allow attendees to engage with one another through interactive games and surveys, or by sharing photos and videos.

Event owners will leverage analytics to deepen business intelligence and validate ROI.
This might be the holy grail,” Payne said. “What organizers really want are answers to these questions: ‘What are attendees interested in?’ ‘What are they trying to accomplish?’ ‘How can I facilitate it?’ And ‘What does my audience really want to do?’”

There are many ways to measure those things, including by looking at keywords and through attendees’ answers and participation in polls and surveys, Payne said. What is different from traditional post-event surveys is that mobile apps give organizers feedback in real time, when they have the opportunity to respond immediately.

Genuine ‘connected communities’ will emerge.
Payne called this his boldest prediction: The most forward-looking organizations will create apps that will evolve from being created for a single event to platforms that audiences will use for year-round education and collaboration. “There is a lot of brainpower there, and a big knowledge base. If you can leverage that power,” he said, “it really has huge potential.”

 

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