By Ben Barnes, Head of Creative Services, Top Banana

So many times, we hear our clients say, “I want a mobile app at our next event” but when we try to find out what they are trying to achieve and why they want an app, the response is normally “because we had one at our last event” or “my manager wants one”.

This is ‘using technology for technology sake’ in its plainest form and is on the rise as technology is becoming more accessible, more cost effective and more popular for corporate events. However, the result of this is a lot of wasted time, money and resource spent building a tool that makes no impact and more disastrously, no engagement.

Technology has never been, and will never be, developed without a clear objective, it is only the solution to an idea, never the idea itself. Unless technology is the simplest, quickest way to achieve something, it’s unlikely to be successful in audience engagement.

As a creative communications agency, we encourage clients to think digitally, but not necessarily think digital first and as such we often have to advise against technology as much as we suggest using it as a solution.

A great process to go through during the planning stages is to focus on the objective, the engagement and then the technology, only then can you strategically make the decision to adopt technology or not.

Objective – always start by defining an objective – we make sure it’s clear and measurable, so we can measure success but also learn from any failures.

Engagement – how do we engage the audience with the objective? How do we get them to do what we want them to do and think about what we want them to think?

Technology – can technology or a blend of traditional and technology support or even improve the success of the objective?

To really bring this concept to life, we can draw on a real-life client scenario where the objective was clear, engagement was defined, and technology provided the perfect solution to the objective. One of our clients wanted to start day two of their conference with an energising team build whilst also interactively revealing the destination of their incentive trip for the year ahead. We came up with the idea of getting everyone to “earn” points in teams through partaking in multiple different activities and exercises such as rowing machines, skipping and trampolining.

When thinking about how to gather the points, we knew traditional methods such as pen and paper wouldn’t be the quickest and easiest solution and therefore explored how technology could help achieve our objective. A bespoke mobile app allowed the delegates to input their points in a quick and easy way whilst being able to see the running total in real-time on the large screens around the room. The solution worked perfectly and helped increase the engagement and interaction of the audience as they were all battling against each other to move up the leader board – a great example of how technology can form part of the solution.

So when we ask the question “Is technology always the right answer for audience engagement?” essentially the answer is, no, it’s not. But when it’s used in the right way for the right reasons, it can be a great tool to enhance engagement and interaction with your audience and achieve your event objectives.

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.