Lockdown- The Trigger for Technological Revolution

17 Nov, 2020
Insightful Blogs

Technology and digital innovations have come thick and fast ever since Thomas Edison invented the first light bulb in 1880. With each new innovation, a new way of communicating, entertaining, working or traveling was born that forced the world to adapt and transform.

The hard part never seems to be the creation of new technology itself, but persuading people of its benefits and necessity. In the early 1900’s with the advent of the automobile, The New York Times branded it impractical, unreliable and expensive quoting “(the price of cars) will never be sufficiently low to make them as widely popular as were bicycles.” Fast forward 100 years and we couldn’t live without them.  No matter how clever a product is, it cannot conquer the world itself; it needs enthusiasts, promoters or an event to trigger a change in people’s mindsets.

When the global lockdown hit in February/March of this year, it pushed individuals and business to their limits. Traditional communication channels of face-to-face interaction were prohibited, offices closed, and networking events cancelled, triggering such a dramatic departure from what we were all used to and leaving us no choice but to adapt to a new way of life.

There is a misconception that 2020 triggered mass innovation in communication channels when in reality these tools have existed for years. Throughout this year there have certainly been upgrades and mutations of video and virtual connection platforms, including our own Exhibition 3.0 concept. But it wasn’t until the world was forced into requiring technology like “Zoom and Microsoft Teams” that their use moved from being a luxury into a necessity. The concept of video calls and conferencing has been around since AT&T created the “PicturePhone” in 1964 and the concept has never dramatically changed. The platform interface adapted with the times to mobile phones and computer systems, but the premise stayed the same. In 2020, access to virtual face-to-face replication methods created a support network for people’s mental health, allowing friends and families to stay connected and for workforces to continue business operations.

The event industry needed this technology to survive. When trade shows and events began to get cancelled at the start of this year, agencies had to transform swapping hard hats and high vis for video calls and gamified events. From live streaming platforms to virtual reality spaces, the technology of the 21st century gave business’ and their customers the opportunity to hold key conversations and build relationships until they could meet in person once again. Virtual technology provided a genuine choice for event planning, convincing people that virtual offerings can be a viable alternative to the event floor. But as we look to 2021, will this technology become redundant once the show floor reopens?

So, what does the future look like?

Zoom’s daily meeting participance soared from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million in April of this year. As countries continue to have local and national lockdowns in order to contain the virus, these figures may well continue to grow. People’s mindsets have changed to adapt to new technology and a new way of life for now. But as time progresses and we hopefully see something of a return to “normality”, will we prefer the physically distanced world we’ve adapted to or long for that human interaction that we as a species crave?

The term “hybrid” is not a new concept, albeit one that has grown substantially in prominence over the past few months, describing the fusing of the virtual and physical spaces to create a need breed of event. With travel restrictions and localised lockdowns still in place, communication technology will be more prevalent than ever to connect those on the show floor to remote audiences. The world is used to this new way of communicating, which could provide the trigger that accelerates the transition from virtual to hybrid. So that could just be the answer!

One thing is certain. Innovation will continue – driven by different circumstances and the need to solve new challenges.  Maybe it will continue to be less of a digital revolution and more of a digital evolution?