I attended The Vision 2050 part of the Singapore MICE Forum 2017 and it threw up some exciting and completely game-changing possibilities envisioned by students and young professionals. They brought in crisp, smart and young thoughts as well as a stimulus for serious consideration by older MICE professionals on the way meetings are going to evolve in the future.
Presenters suggested that with the increasing need for a high emotional quotient, critical thinking skills, communication and problem-solving prowess, traditional formal dissemination of knowledge may become redundant. They foresee sophisticated information sharing replacing the old, top-down knowledge transfer prevalent in today’s system. They predict that delegates may even be paid to attend conferences and meetings! They foresee that tacit knowledge will become the expected norm in the future and delegates can be the source of knowledge and information to be used for public good and not be treated just as recipients or consumers of information.
Future event venues are expected to consist of personalised spaces and transformed to meet the exact needs of the meeting, perhaps allowing the same space to be used for multiple events at the same time, optimising use through modular structures. Technology plays a stellar role in many of the forecasts, even predicting that the number of people engaged in the MICE industry may reduce drastically with pruning of uneconomical human resource replaced by smarter operating systems that will be high on efficiency but low on cost. The elders of the MICE industry were of the opinion that MICE per se, is a robust industry and will evolve to suit the needs and paradigms presented from time to time but will always be resilient and robust in containing its assets while embracing new winds of change.
The leading question put forward by the young thinkers is: how does the MICE industry and its experienced caretakers expect to function in a world which, as they know it, will cease to exist and be replaced by an entirely new order with its own demands, expectations and challenges?
For those of us who have seen years of more rapid development and radical change radical than we were used to, the element of surprise will not be that root-shaking because we have learnt to adapt to technology and its impacts quite well. The fundamentals of the meeting industry cannot change drastically as the end goal remains the communication of messages and an educative and learning process for everyone on either side of the podium. Even if the podium, literally, ceases to exist, the two-way, or even multi-faceted communication will be carried out in essence, perhaps through improvised vehicles and tools of communication.
I have immense faith in the basic strengths of the MICE industry and I am not being complacent. I believe that challenges have been there, to adapt, to think anew, to discard conventional wisdom at times and embrace newly valid and appropriate thought processes, and eventually, the show will go on. Do we need any more than that? The answer will reveal itself, regularly, but will now not be written in stone.
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