The new or ‘fourth’ industrial revolution, characterised by a fusion of technologies blurring the line between the physical and the virtual worlds, needs a new approach from suppliers. That was the unanimous view of delegates in a session at the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) annual congress in Dubai.
The meetings industry needs to be part of the innovation economy rather than the visitor economy to drive these new industries, according to City development expert and moderator Greg Clark. Imex’s Natasha Richards said the problem is that the venues are old and limited in terms of their adaptability to the new demands of the new economy.
Heike Mahmoud of Congress Center Hamburg Messe said: “We have a lot of tech-related events and one recently attracted 40,000 people but they brought in all their own technology. Do they need our expertise any more? Are they moving too fast for us?”
One veteran industry professional, Christian Mutschlechner, said: “I believe 50% of the built venues will be redundant in a few years because clients will print their own venue with a 3D printer.”
Clark said: “Intense competition between nations to be the areas that capture the new industries that produce exports and tax-yields and large supply chains will create innovation districts and clusters organised through ecosystems.
“They will have to work in a coordinated way and this accelerates the process. These new industries are ‘meetings intensive’ because of collaborative and collectively generated work. This makes them more likely to indulge in information sharing through orchestrated events. These new sectors therefore are important to the meetings industry.”
He told delegates destinations need to know how to convert a scientific conference into an innovation event with more collaboration, a lot of showcasing of technology and linkages because this creates scale and attracts attention.
In old industries, the relationships are binary whereas the new industries are on an eco-system basis. The new industrial revolution needs a new approach from suppliers and certain types of places are more appropriate for certain types of events due to the intellectual capital of these places.”
VisitScotland’s Neil Brownlee said the creation of Tech Week in London was an example of the curation approach where scale is created. He said his organisation is focused on using Scotland’s Intellectual Capital “to make Scotland a better place”. But he added: “We have to go after the right events – we are not going to have any arms fairs in Scotland any time soon!”