Archive for New Norms

Industry 4.0 – Digitizing of Everything Else

In 2012 I wrote about the Digitizing of Everything. Since then, even more than I imagined has been reduced to 0 and 1, stored in the cloud or on drives, and changed the world forever.

Looking back, I realize that while I stuck a toe into the science fiction of the future as it was then (how do you refer to the future in past tense – the historic future?), the realities of just how much can and will be digitized is growing at an amazing pace.

Bill Gates and others are now raising concerns with the impact robotics and artificial intelligence will have in social, not technical, terms. This is a recognition that the realization of these technologies is now a foregone conclusion in the minds of forward thinkers, and the human impact is top of mind. Bill also sees some other technologies that we are on the verge of realizing.

Old MediaMuch of what we have digitized has been in the consumer and data worlds – music, video, text, shopping, documents, information, etc. While there are new formats that challenge the old – playing music on mobile devices rather than records; reading on screen rather than on paper; shopping online rather than in a retail store; filing a medical claim and getting paid online; completing HR process at the office – they do not destroy the old formats. Books, records, retail stores, paper medical claims all still exist and the Millennials seem to like these more tangible formats. (Everything old is new again).

Fringe concepts like face recognition for security, self-driving cars, 3D printed items, and unmanned aircraft – from the military to home delivery – are now all part of today’s world. They may not have had their Janus Moment and become the “norm”, but they are no longer the fringe.

We are however entering a period that I referenced to in the “historical future” of 2012 where computers are beginning to do new things, not just in new formats. I wrote:

In the book AFTER THOUGHT The Computer Challenge to Human Intelligence James Bailey proposes a completely new impact on humanity due to the computer’s ability to “think” differently than we do.

One example he uses to illustrate the impact of the speed of computing is weather predictions. Given the same data, humans could calculate the predictions just as machines, but in hundreds of “man-hours”. By then, the prediction would be useless.”

Today, we find Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, Bots, Predictive Analytics, Conversation as a Platform (where Bots talk to each other instead of humans). Quantum Computing, and more. These concepts were talked about in 2012, but today they are fully realized if not fully implemented.

The result? What the World Economic Forum refers to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This may sound familiar as well. That’s because in 2012 the Economist wrote about the Third Industrial Revolution. Yup, the Third Industrial Revolution lasted a brief 4 years. (it was televised and is available for streaming via NetFlix.)

The Fourth Industrial Revolution connects systems and computers in ways humans can’t (fully digitally) and begins to form new processes and tools around how computers, not humans, think.

Imagine this: a sensor in a subscription oven (one where the restaurant pays based on usage rather than all up front) sends its report to an intelligent system that predicts failure within 2 weeks based on usage, model, location, and more. This triggers the calendar bot to schedule the appointment with the restaurant based on day/times it’s open and the service center’s availability. Confirmation of the appointment is sent to the chef and the oven which displays the information on its screen – if a technician is needed at all.

Instructions are sent to the 3D printer at the restaurant (crediting the monthly invoice for materials used) and the restaurant’s alarm system pairs with the bot in the service tech’s device to allow access when he arrives. Or, an interactive bot walks the restaurant owner through the process of replacing the part using a video recognizing app or augmented reality glasses.

So why should the event and conference industry care?

  • Fewer Workers means fewer attendees: The example above shows that there will be fewer service techs and training in the future. If service teams and training are your audience and content, they may be greatly reduced inside of 50 years. Add autonomous vehicles like trains, trucks, ships, tractors, taxis, buses, and more and there will be even fewer audiences for these types of events. (More on the impact of Autonomous Vehicles in a later post). At one time, every elevator in the world required an elevator operator, now almost none do. In the future, one or more drivers per vehicle or one service techs per service call will seem as strange as one operator per elevator does now.
  • New workers mean new attendees, content, and conferences: However, new skills, technologies, and industries means new events. All the technologies above will form into mature industries over the next 20 years. The concept that a chef will also do maintenance on their kitchen appliance via augmented reality glasses means new and different skills for many attendees at what do not appear to be “technology” events. Tech, IT, Robotics, and more will become more mainstream and therefore more necessary curriculum for attendees everywhere.
    Robot at Microsoft Ignite

    Robot at Microsoft Ignite

  • Changes in business process: Bots and connected systems will replace the order taking, warehouse, and quality control process by sending orders directly to robots and drones for assembly into self-driving truck, or a 3D printer on site. How does a warehouse change if there are no humans involved in the storing and gathering? How can you change the Event and Conference business as an event owner, agency, or service provider?
  • Online attendee experience will change: Richer media, attendees navigating physical space via robots and/drones (just piloted at Microsoft Ignite), sessions streamed globally by attendees, attendance fees based on content consumed not physical or online access. Skype Translator alone allows for global audiences for content consumption.
  • Interconnected data: Just as Facebook and Google profit handsomely from the broad sets of data related to their user and their preferences, event data will become more broadly used and valuable beyond the event itself. Publishers once were the channel to new audiences with mailing lists; today all sources of information have increasing value not only to marketers, but to the systems that provide the augmented reality, predictive analytics, conversations, and more.

Robot Attendees

The birth of SkyNet is coming.

While Terminator shows one fanaticized version of what self-aware machines learning and working together might be, the events industry needs to digest the realities of how the digitizing of everything will impact, well – everything.

Be assured, even if the machines do rise, they will need an annual conference for networking, planning, and training. And the Resistance will need a series of events as well!

Who will be first to introduce an event for them?



Seeing Around Corners – ECEF 2015 Keynote

Social norms, technology and the economy are under constant pressure.

Small but meaningful changes that have the potential to disrupt our plans are advancing every day. Like pressure on a fault line, they can release small tremors or become major earthquakes. From the decline of intermediaries to the growth in protests, the shocks will affect your event, your attendees, and your business.

How can you be ready for the inevitable and the unknown? At the Exhibit and Conference Executives Forum I shared my thoughts on a strategy I have used to help you anticipate the worst, while preparing for the best.

How Celebrities and Copy Cats create “Janus Moments”.


The gift bag at the recent Emmys included tens of thousands of dollars worth of products, trips, samples, and more.

Product placement in movies and TV shows – whether subtle or more obvious – can expose a product to millions of people, and in a situation and use that is most positive to the brand.

Celebrity sponsorships – from sports to musicians to “constructed celebrities” like Paris Hilton and the Kardashians (a name that I just found out is in my spellcheck dictionary) – can have spectacular impact on the sponsoring company, just ask Nike how valuable their relationship with Michael Jordan is.

Even a 140 character tweet (paid or from the heart) from someone you follow can trigger the exploration and/or purchase of just about anything. Or, in a less material slant, support of a cause or individual.

What all of these tactics have in common is the power of influence. More and more, what your friends – real or “I know we’d be BFFs if we ever met” – feel, think, know, or do influences what you feel, think, know, or do.

And it can cut both ways.

A simple comment about what’s wrong with a product, how the experience went bad, or even a whimsical slam can have a negative impact to the same degree as the positive.

This type of influence is not exclusive to purchases or opinions. It can, and does, expand to culture and actions of other kinds.

Researchers looking to explain suicide clusters – an abnormal number of suicides in a given community or area – found that the actions of an individual or two can trigger a “copycat syndrome” where others who may have never truly contemplated suicide are drawn to do so.

AMPS TweetThe speed at which a single incident can become a more common occurrence is something to watch carefully and be conscious of. In the one month after Marilyn Monroe’s suicide there were 200 more suicides than average. This is part of the reason that there was criticism of the way some looked to celebrate Robin Williams at the time of his suicide.

A “flywheel” effect can take place, where the energy from a small beginning builds on itself to become much bigger. The phenomenon of “flash crashes” in financial markets issimilar – where one action triggers an ever-building set of actions, often computer trades based on specific price or data levels.

This increasing speed, influence, and reach – both good and bad – is one way that the fringe or Black Swans (something unthinkable because it’s never been seen, but none the less is very real) have Janus Moments and become the norm.



MPI World Education Congress 2014 | Closing General Session

The Closing General Session at MPI World Education Congress 2014 featured Scott Schenker, the General Manager, Events and Production Studio at Microsoft and Founder of Janus Dialogs.

Scott believes there is magic in discovery and innovation. However the process of innovating is not magical – it comes from observing what others are doing, tapping the collective imaginations of empowered and engaged individuals, and embracing the fringe for new norms.

Developing a habit of appreciating, understanding, and being energized by these new norms – rather than fearing or dismissing them – has been one of Scott’s key to success in the Events industry.

Scott will share insights on how he approaches innovation, searches for new ideas, and “borrows” them from completely different industries to introduce them into the events he and his team organize. He will explore the four reasons for, and the four types of, innovation as well as the importance of looking at social, political, and economic realms, and the bright and shiny technical innovations.


New Norm | The Rise of Audio


Audio’s day is coming.

Like battles in geopolitics, operating systems, and hem line length, the mediums of text, images, and audio have each been in and out of favor.

Text took an early – and admittedly long – lead with the Gutenberg Printing Press in 1436. This allowed for not only storage of text, but easy sharing in the printed form. The impact of the printing press on religion, politics, thought, education, and the world is nothing less than transformative. There is not a single area of society that escaped the impact of simply storing, reproducing, and distributing text.

In addition to storing the original, print allowed for standardized translations, search via a table of contents and index, and elevated text into an art form with different fonts, colors, and layouts.

It was close to 400 years before images gained the same storage and sharing ability with camera photography, and like printing, several more decades before it became more widely spread. Finally, in 1877 audio finally caught up to the storage and sharing race with Thomas Edison’s phonograph cylinder.

With the birth of computers in the 1940s a new race began. Given the complexity and size of image and audio files, it is not surprising that text took (again) an early lead in this realm. While mice and trackballs were added as part of the GUI interface, text became the default input and output media.

Digital audio did gain a short lead over digital photography and the two grew steadily in the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, it is now estimated that 10% of all pictures ever taken have been taken in the last 12 months. With 7 billion people on the planet speaking all the time, imagine the scope and scale of audio compared to images.

Yet behind the majority of the searching, sorting, and organizing of audio and image files is text in the form of metatags, indexing terms, etc. thus limiting the ability to use audio as an input device or to truly search within the file itself.

This is all changing. Just ask Siri or Google Now.

Audio is now being used as a control device replacing keyboards, it can be searched to the spoken word within recordings and videos, and can sync content across multiple screens. Imagine a world with no keyboards, searchable audio, and instantaneous translation.

TVPlus [+] is an interactive television application you use while watching your favorite programs on TV that syncs your second screen device to your television and delivers interesting, relevant, contextual content and social activity about each scene of the show, including actor bios, music, photo galleries, behind the scenes facts and much more.

MAVIS is Microsoft’s Audio Video Indexing Service which uses state of the art speech recognition technology developed at Microsoft Research to enable searching of digitized spoken content, whether from meetings, conference calls, voice mails, presentations, online lectures, or even Internet video.

Shazam, SoundHound, and Tuneup listen for music or audio from commercials and bring you to a web page, URL, or special content. SayHi and T-Translator will translate spoken words in real time on hand held devices.

Even one of the backbones of image tagging – the bar code – is being converted into acoustic barcodes that convert the spacing of the barcodes to unique audio patterns that can be recognized.  Chirp is using unique sounds for sharing between devices. And Gocen is converting written music to audio in real time

We are more than just at the fringe of the rise of audio and we still have a long way to go.

The movies, always a good place to look for signs of new norms, show everything from audio activated spaceships in Prometheus to voice interactive videos in the new Total Recall. And in the real world, SayHi exceeded 10 milliontranslations back in July, Shazam 5 billion songs in August, and specific conversation assistants like Winston are delivering social updates and personalized news in a narrated broadcast format..

Have you started thinking about the voice and personality of your experience or corporate audio? Changing bar and QR codes for unique audio tags? Are you adding voice interface to your event mobile app?


Note: As always, the desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.



New Norm | Transparency

“No more secrets Marty.”

The defining line in the 1992 movie Sneakers where the prize is a code breaker (“No. It’s THE code breaker”) capable of breaking into any computer system and ensuring there are never any more secrets.

Since the dawn of time individuals, governments, and businesses have worked hard to protect their secrets, and find those of others. And since the dawn of time, the greatest asset on both sides of this battle has been wetware – people. It is people who are the agents, the traitors, the decoders, and those whose secrets are shared.

New technology is always introduced to secure, or crack, the code but one of the most powerful tools is the social acceptance of keeping or protecting secrets. When is it acceptance to steal or share, and when isn’t it?

Would the president’s disabilities be acceptable to share?

Today, sharing every challenge facing a world leader is the norm, but during the 12 years Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House:

“In keeping with social customs of the time, the media generally treated Roosevelt’s disability as taboo. News stories did not mention it, and editorial cartoonists, favorable and unfavorable, often showed the president with normal mobility. According to famed broadcaster David Brinkley, who was a young White House reporter in World War II, the Secret Service actively interfered with photographers who tried to take pictures of Roosevelt in a wheelchair or being moved about by others.”1

Such interference by the secret service today would cause more of an uproar than the actual story.

Somewhere between John F. Kennedy (who was rumored to have many affairs during his presidency) and Richard Nixon (who was impeached in 1974, 11 years after Kennedy’s assassination) a Janus Moment occurred (likely Watergate) and the press corp. – and the country ­– expected much more transparency into the life, and actions, of the president.

The social constraint on the acceptability of sharing information appears to still to be on a decline. Wikileaks was born December 2006 and serves as a poster child for the ease with which information can be shared from even the most protective of organizations.

The desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretaker for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

As such, with an increasing technical ability and reach, and decreasing social constraint, what impact might this rise in transparency have on events? Consider:

  • Measurement | event measurement is often closely held by those who host the program. Specific results (often the best) are shared to prove the relevance and success of the program, and to attract attendees and exhibitors for the next year. How will you deal with the potential sharing of data in all its good and bad? Will you protect it more? Demand to see more? Open it to all?
  • Event Secrets | Mom always said, “don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to read about on the front page of the paper.” Did you make any deals with exhibitors, the organizer, presenters, or keynoters that you would rather not share? It may be a matter of time before this is shared to all. How might this change the way you conduct event business?
  • Speaker “unauthorized” Bios | what would a background search of all your speakers reveal, and how would the release of this information impact your organization and/or event?

Can you think of other aspects and elements of marketing and events that could be impacted by the rise of transparency?

New Norm | Life Logging

Personal diaries have been tucked under mattresses, hidden in secret drawers, and peeked at by nosy friends for a long time. But as everything analog shifts to digital, technology allows unlimited storage and sharing, and new gadgets are introduced – we’re starting to collect a lot more, and different kinds, of data about ourselves.

Logging has established roots in business and public sector.

For instance, it is now normal to have a video camera in a patrol car. In 2000 only 11% of State Highway Patrol vehicles had dashboard cameras. This rose to 72% by 2004. In 2003 police vehicles in cities with 200,000+ people with dashboard cameras broke 50% – that’s a Janus Moment.

It is standard to have your customer service call recorded, your social media comments captured, and manufacturing lines checked by cameras, thermometers, and other instruments to ensure quality. All logged for “training”, archival, or regulatory purposes.

New gadgets like portable cameras, smart phones, motion-sensing systems, GPS, connected devices, and increased bandwidth are allowing individuals to document and share their lives in new and surprising ways.


It is now possible to track your workouts, weight, blood pressure, sugar levels, and many other aspects of your health and to share these with a designated or open community. In fact, the motivational benefits of sharing these details are part of the value propositions being promoted. No more asking “have you lost weight?” just check my Facebook page. (But thanks for asking!)

Insurance companies are adding discounts to policyholders who log their driving in real time much as professional drivers in the business world are tracked. And there are services to track your kids as they start to drive as well.

Some are getting into trouble for tracking too many things – like where’s your iPhone? Nonetheless, the trend is towards this type of life logging becoming more and more the norm.

The Google Glasses are the most aggregating and adventurous gadget to date and could add further fuel to the life logging fire. But what does a future of everything being captured, stored, and shared look like?

Robin Williams starred in an interesting science fiction/fact movie on this subject in 2004 call The Final Cut. He plays a cutter, someone with the power of final edit over people’s recorded histories. Think highlight videos of your life played at your funeral. It reflects on true versus perceived memories, and how we all have things we have done we may not be so proud of – or want to share.

And there are even more powerful possibilities as lives are logged.

Patterns, information, and knowledge can come from sorting through large amounts of big data. What could be bigger than the life logs of say 1,000 people over 50 years; or 1,000,000 people over 80 years; or 100,000,000? The ability to log the physical state, geography, emotions, and activities of larges groups is here, as it the ability to store, analyze and interpret the data.

Is laugher really contagious? Are there places in the world that are truly healthier, is there a link between being caught in the rain and how you will score on a test later that day? What is the human “butterfly effect”? Correlations and relationships never though of before (or provable) could become common knowledge. Whole-Live Data Mining could be an interesting job in about 100 years.

The desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

In the near term –

  • Are you ready for your attendees to share every moment of their time at your experience?
  • To record and share their conversations, sessions attended?
  • Do you have a policy for life loggers?

What do you think? Log your thoughts here –

New Norm | User Generated Content (UGC)

Social Media started with content relevant to your “social” world. It was through new channels like Twitter and Facebook and about you. But once released from the bottle, the genie cannot be held to just the social aspects of life for long.

User generated content is typically seen as ‘Conversational Media’, as opposed to the ‘Packaged Goods Media’ of the past century.1 

But while the conversations are certainly growing, user-generated content carries a few more influential characteristics as well.

Packaged Goods Media was centrally controlled and needed costly distribution channels like subscribers and/or airwaves, which required a return on investment. Given the costs there was a resulting correlation between the “professional” look of the medium and the assumed quality of the message.

But in addition to the social change of “who has something to contribute”, the technical and economic changes have equalized the distribution playing field.

The Walla Walla Washington high school newspaper website has the same reach as the New York Times or BBC. [I picked them because they came in second in the 2011 Edward R Murrow High School Journalism Competition.]

Technology has also made media capture and manipulation common for the common man. Print, photo, web, music, and other rich media can be laid out and published like never before. These are the same applications used by the media enterprise. Thank Adobe for this.

As a result User Generated Content with its endless reach, low investment, and equal perception of quality has enabled anyone to generate and distribute anytime. ANYONE CAN DO IT! Look at me. If “video killed the radio star” than the digital revolution killed the radio, print, TV, newspaper, and guest keynoter.

But are we pushing a string or pulling it with this ability? Do people really want to create content?

Jeff Jarvis, Professor at New York University and author of the book “Public Parts” says,

“Sharing is a social and generous act: it connects us, it establishes and improves relationships, it builds trust, it disarms strangers and stigmas, it fosters the wisdom of the crowd, it enables collaboration, and it empowers us to find, form and act as publics of our own making.”

The network on which this user-generated content is shared is making the world smaller. Maybe not literally, but the “6 degrees of separation” are now 4.7. Some bloggers have more street cred and influence than established news writers.

How does this affect the experience marketing and events industry?

First, ANYONE CAN CREATE AN EVENT. Certainly anyone can create valuable content. Your community, competitors, just a guy looking to make a few bucks while you need to make more. What is your real experience advantage? Your event, and its relationship with the audience, is no safer than the radio, video, or TV star.

Second, supply and demand quickly come into play when there are so many willing and able to provide content. Any equation between the value of content and price paid is broken. Thousands will freely contribute content to news outfits, blog sites, or direct to readers, friends, fans.

“FREE” or inexpensive content is expected. If you’re selling something, people will find a back door to getting it for less or free. If content is a key to your financial success – you are in trouble. Professional photographers have been replaced by Flickr searches, record companies bypassed, and comics are producing their own TV specials.

Some organizations have embraced this Janus Moment. The Event Marketing Summit has introduced Unsessions – Targeted conversations created, managed, and executed by attendees. They have looked to “place” as the differentiators in the marketing mix. have done one better. With no direct affiliation with Apple, Adobe, or Microsoft, offers a universe of user-generated print and video content on all things computing and software from self (and community) proclaimed subject matter experts resulting in a differentiating “product” with search, digestible and relevant results, and monthly subscriptions.

The desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

How are you dealing with User Generated Content?

  • Does the rise threaten your events value?
  • How can/are you adjusting the content exchange?
  • Beyond content, what other aspects of your program are or should be user-generated? The agenda, tools, locations?

Contribute your user-generated content to the dialog –

New Norm | Equality

“At least since the French Revolution, equality has served as one of the leading ideals of the body politic; in this respect, it is at present probably the most controversial of the great social ideals.”1

The notion of equality is much simpler than the reality.

Explore Wikipedia, the Stanford article quoted above, or many other sources on the subject and it becomes clear that equality is much easier to support in concept than to understand or achieve in reality.

Do we mean equality of opportunity, of outcome, of surrounding, of conditions, of access? Should we all be 6 feet tall; have the opportunity to be 6‘ tall; or not be looked upon differently if we are not exactly 6’ tall? The answer is – unfortunately – not always equitable.

Recently, while boarding a flight overseas, the perception of inequality was brought to light. The second group to board was called, and as has become the norm, this group consisted of high mileage flyers. As soon as they started heading for the plane, someone not in this group began loudly complaining “why should these people get to board before I do?”

This question had not been raised (publically at least) when the first group boarded – consisting of families with small children and those “needing more time to board”. But it was now being loudly asked.

Activities that appear to differentiate are less and less tolerated. It is the populist aspect of the notion of equality that makes the topic so popular. (A self-obvious sentence if ever there was one.)

There may be a Janus Moment occurring, not for the seemingly universal support of equality, but for the willingness to voice such support, and to voice dissatisfaction when it is felt to not be occurring.

Coke reacted (to either the desire for increased equality or at the rising voices) by turning a skybox for invited coke guests into a dormitory for coke customers.

Certainly the notion of equality won here, but don’t look too deep at the reality – a smaller percent of the total population will have access to the dormitory than Coke VIPs had originally. It is the “who” that matters, not the how many.

Will this type of equality “stick” or will it be a fad? Some changes in equality have proven foundational – while not completely the norm, domestic partner benefits can now be found at 57% of Fortune 500 companies.

What is certain is that the major contributing factor to the rise in equality is that everyone’s voice is now equally heard. Social media has replaced the complaint letter as the vehicle for those who are unhappy or displeased with how they are being treated – by their airline, government, company, or spouse.

With this rise in diversity of voice, we are deciding more and more how we feel from our friends, colleagues, and digital communities. We are empowered when we see and hear their stories. Add the “digitizing of the complaint letter” to a community of sympathetic listeners and detractors now have as resilient a voice as promoters, as direct a channel for distribution, and can come together with shared issues more quickly.

Experience and event caretakers have been using the promoter side of this powerful social media revolution and monitoring the detractor side to put out fires. It’s likely more will need to change.

The desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

Questions to ask about your event:

  • Are reserved seats at your event still “acceptable”? Faster lines, VIP areas and access?
  • Is tiered pricing still considered equitable?
  • What might someone feel is inequitable and how can/should you address it?
  • Who is out but might be in?
  • How might displeasure be displayed? Do you have a way to facilitate such concerns?

What are you hearing about equality?

New Norm | Protest [“Occupy”]

It has become socially acceptable to be antisocial. Protest is now the norm; we celebrate disruption – and a just cause.

The Arab Spring started December 18th, 2010 and resulted in political and cultural change in 17+ Arab countries. While certainly not socially “accepted’ by those in power, they none the less became the norm for regime and government change in that region.

Nine months later The Occupy Wall Street movement became an open platform with economic, political, and social drivers helping to fuel the movement’s goal of social equality.

Don’t take my word for it, ask Time Magazine whose Time Magazine person of the year 2011 is the protestor. The cover image has been altered — it’s not an Arab woman as you might think – but a woman from LA.

This emboldening of the masses, and the power they (truly) can bring, has spread to other issues, sometimes not even as clear as those of Occupy Wall Street.

In August 2011 street violence erupted in London after a local man was shot dead by the police. In February 2012 at Mobile World Congress/Barcelona: students protesting education cuts overtook the plaza entrance disrupting an event that hosted 67,000 people from 205 countries.

Why disrupt an event like Mobile World Congress? Because, to quote Willie Sutton, “that’s where the money is.”

Events are the result of a large investment by one or more groups, they have a “built-in audience”, they are easy to interrupt, and depending on the subject of the protest, can be the direct target of the message.

Protests are certainly not new, nor do they always need to come in the form of a large crowd. Michael Moore in the late 90’s and early 2000’s camped out in Las Vegas outside ballrooms doing research for his film about the healthcare industry. He wanted to find out how much money was being spent on cocktail parties and room drops.

The healthcare industry responded by eliminating company logos from all event signage so as to NOT attract attention, and disallowing camera recording at off-site events. Candid modules being shot were cancelled, all footage confiscated by corporate security post event, and erased from editors’ hard drives.

Another sign this is a new norm – software designed to manage and organize in “anti-social” ways. SUKEY is a web app designed to keep people safe, mobile and informed during demonstrations. It features crowd-sourced updates from twitter and other online and offline sources to provide users with a timely overview of what is going on at a demonstration. Includes a map view, compass view and the ability to send reports and updates through the app itself. “Fleeing riot police on foot? Now there’s an app for that.

In London, organizers used BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to get the word out because it supports private messages to your entire address book free. Mike Butcher, digital advisor to the mayor of London, called BBM the thug’s Gutenberg press.”1

Economic, political and social factors were drivers in London, Barcelona, NYC, and the Middle East, but what about the stakeholders and audience at your marketing program or event. Is the high-level guest speaker booked for your event beloved by everyone universally? Would anyone have any reason to target (or interrupt) your program?

The desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

Whether it’s as simple as hecklers you anticipate or an underground movement – be prepared. For corporate marketing programs and events, there are five internal and external groups to ensure you are aligned with in advance.

  • Travel | how do you move all stakeholders in case of protest
  • Legal | what are your rights and options should something occur
  • Public Relations | what you say is as important as what you do
  • Human Resources | one of the stakeholders is your own co-workers, are there policies, training, or procedures in place?
  • Crisis Management | More than security, this team can focus on all aspects (including security) of the situation.

What are you doing?