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AI in APAC: The Future of Events, the Future of Society

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Etienne Chia
Etienne Chia

Vice President, Digital & Strategy

FreemanXP

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How the Asia Pacific region is using machine learning to innovate and transform

In the APAC region, the event marketing industry is abuzz with talk of data — specifically, the innovative, exciting initiatives that come from having realms of consumer information easily at hand.

What's even more exciting is that this data is now easier to digest, analyze, and use in new ways — thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. APAC marketers are increasingly breaking new ground by using data with laser precision to produce marketing that is targeted right down to each individual consumer. 

Is AI a new event marketing industry trend? Absolutely. But AI is also driving a transformation that extends well beyond the walls of the convention center or event space, spreading to every facet of modern society, in APAC and beyond. Spurred by the increase of smart technologies and the Internet of Things, AI is shifting from a marketing tool to an integral — even inescapable — facet of how we interact with each other and the world at large. 

With AI shifting from a simple data processing tool to event powerhouse to societal disruptor, it spurs the question: What impact does AI hold for the future of events … and society as a whole? 

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The Need for Digestible Data

A new world of affordable and increasingly advanced data analytics tools is making event marketers' dreams come alive. Comprehensive datasets are empowering marketers to streamline strategies and more efficiently target specific personas in today's complex, omnichannel environment.

However, having more data also creates the challenge of bridging the gap between raw data and actionable insights. For many marketers today, disparate sets of data sit in silos and often don't fit together easily to provide a complete picture of the consumer. Marketers have a desperate need for more easily-understood data that tells the whole story — which is precisely where AI shines. 

AI Is Redefining Relationships

While the United States may seem to be leading the charge in terms of technological advances in AI, Asia (and specifically China) is poised to leap far ahead. In the Asia Pacific region, machine learning technology is advancing at a rapid pace, especially when it comes to e-commerce, mobile economy, and human-computer interactions with the real world.

In the events space, machine learning has perhaps had the greatest impact in two general categories: User Experience and Design.

Notably, design and production are evolving as AI becomes more prominent in events. Generative design works to build better spaces and more dynamic visitor experiences, while process automation helps agencies be more efficient in time and cost when producing shows. Using AI to integrate tools, teams, and platforms is highly attractive to marketers, and the technology is setting the stage for new, dynamic experiences that can be created for visitors.

In one cutting-edge example, digital concierges that plan and accompany attendees throughout an event experience are paired with social-matchmaking algorithms that facilitate attendees meeting the right people based on mutual backgrounds and objectives. The result is completely reshaping how humans interact, both with machines and with other humans.

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Better Control… Or Lack of Control?

Although most people still aren't willing to fully give up their autonomy to machines when it comes to decision making, many are already doing so (even if they don't realize it). More consumers are unknowingly relying on machine learning and AI in their online searches; search algorithms are getting smarter and more streamlined, presenting search results to consumers based on data collected from their past purchases and other online behaviors.

This means marketers must shift how they engage with consumers.

For example, whereas e-commerce marketers used to be able to rely on search engines to act as a conduit for launching new conversations with potential customers, AI is a powerful filter that screens out any conversations that aren't immediately relevant to the searcher. In event marketing, AI will produce a similar shift in how relationships are formed between the marketer and the consumer, as well as how consumers access and interact with events.

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The Implications for Society

While there are several positive implications for AI and machine learning, the technology can be highly disruptive and even dangerous if left unchecked and in the wrong hands. Product recommendations are a seemingly benign application of AI, but other applications, such as the Social Credit System (SCS) in China, where every citizen and legally registered person in China will be ranked and rated by 2020, has an almost Orwellian slant in the eyes of some critics.

In general, though, AI opens the doors for exceptional innovation and growth across nations, and the APAC region has already proven to be a hotbed for technological creativity for much of the last decade. This wholesale embrace of AI will power the region's ability to go to market faster and more efficiently than the West.

The future of AI and machine learning is undeniably here. And while most consumers are wary of how their personal data is used, they're also open to the conveniences and novel experiences that AI allows for. By exploring these possibilities and continually pushing the limits on what's possible, marketers in APAC and the world will be better positioned not only to grow their events but also to keep pace with this rapidly changing society.

Learn more about audience engagement and insights driven by data and digital.

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