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Leading-edge can be double-edged

Pioneer techies often get hurt, says Simon Clayton of RefTech
When it comes to tech, event organisers are often faced with a dilemma: they want to use the very latest technology, but they need it to be completely reliable and dependable. These two factors never go together.


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The new kid on the block

Is Blockchain a solution in search of a problem?
As a concept, Blockchain is actually quite interesting and is known as ‘distributed ledger’ technology. Pretty much everything we do online creates data and Blockchain is a new way of storing and moving that data. Data has to be held somewhere and usually gets stored in clumps in one place – whether that is on a company’s server, your own PC or in the cloud. With Blockchain the data is split into tiny pieces and spread out over thousands of places via a network and then held together with clever cryptography.


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GDPR will make data misuse very obvious

Simon Clayton stresses that data about other people belongs to them not to you
It’s occurred to me that GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) isn’t wildly different from the Data Protection Act that it replaces – except in one major and hugely ground-breaking way.
The overarching goal of GDPR (enforceable in Europe from May 25 2018) is one of transparency and fairness. Its main mission is to encourage companies to be transparent in the way they are storing and using people’s personal data and that they are fair in the decisions they take regarding that data.


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Confusion over new EU data protection law

Simon Clayton says fines are unlikely and offers a free Reftech guide
GDPR: by now, you will know that it is General Data Protection Regulation and when it will be enforceable May 25), but do you actually know exactly what you have to do? You are not alone - there are thousands of companies and millions of people who still don’t know exactly what they need to do either, and there’s good reason for that.


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Barcodes outperform facial recognition

Simon Clayton tells how even Apple’s demo failed
The Apple iPhone X launch has brought facial recognition into the news and so, of course, we need to look at its impact on the events industry. ‘Facial recognition is going to take the events world by storm and the humble barcode will soon be relegated to the past’. At least, that’s what the people selling it are claiming.


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Augmented Reality brings no benefits

AR doesn’t pass the ‘cost v. usefulness’ test, says Simon Clayton
Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR) are the latest shiny tech innovations to hit the events press, so, as usual, I thought I should dispel the myths and fallacies.
I've grouped AR and VR together because they will soon be referred to as one entity; Augmented Reality (the layering of information or images over the real world) and Virtual Reality (completely fabricated worlds) will merge to be one technique.


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Technology should simplify things

But Simon Clayton finds it often makes things more difficultWe like tech, we like gadgets and we have come to expect that as technology marches on, our everyday items will include more tech features, have more functionality and be able to do even more whizzy things for us that will make our lives easier.

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Delegate Data breaches can cripple a company

Simon Clayton says they prove how valuable the data can be
How often do you hear people say: “If it seems too good to be true, then it most probably is…”?
This saying came to mind when we found out that some companies are purporting to sell delegate information from specific events. Emails from a third party company are issued to exhibitors and non-exhibitors alike and claim that they are selling delegate or visitor data from XYZ event.


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Is some high-tech solving problems that are not there?

Or will its use soon become very valuable?
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas prompted a whole range of reactions from the press – ranging from the ‘wow’ to the fairly sarcastic. One article highlighted the array of technology created ‘to solve a problem that just isn’t there’.


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May 25th is a key date in data handling

Simon Clayton explains its importance to event organisers

The EU’s new data protection regime - the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - will come into force in May 2018, when it will make EU data protection rules a lot stricter.
While the future of data protection law after the UK fully leaves the EU is as yet unknown, the fact remains that the exit is still many years away. In the meantime, the UK’s Information Commissioner has confirmed that the UK will go ahead with implementing GDPR into our own national regulations regardless of the Brexit vote.


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Hacking a fridge…

Simon Clayton warns it might not be so funny

The internet of things (IoT) has suffered some bad press of late due to the current lack of any security standards. Robert Graham, CEO of Errata Security, recently documented his experience setting up a $55 JideTech security camera at home. According to Graham's series of Twitter posts, his camera was taken over by the Mirai botnet and compromised in just 98 seconds.

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No, you don’t have Big Data!

And don't look for meaning in meaningless data, advises Simon Clayton

Big Data: it's a great term, but it's being bandied about our industry like sweets at a kids' party. It's everywhere at the moment. I've been to several conferences and I read the industry press and you can't move for references to it.
But I can state categorically that no-one in the events industry has Big Data. There, I've said it. Every one of the people discussing the use of Big Data within our industry is peddling a misconception. Big Data does not exist in the events industry.


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Has AI now reared its head in the events industry?

Simon Clayton is not convinced

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been the stuff of sci-fi for decades and is now finally making some interesting leaps into the consumer world. Seth Shostak, Director of the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI), says: ‘Within 20 years, you will have one computer that's smarter than all humans put together.’

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How long are you allowed to keep events data?

Simon Clayton highlights the dangers

Event organisers collect a lot of data, but how long can that data be kept, what can be kept and how do you determine what’s safe to retain?
Two of the core principles of European data protection law, under both the old and new regimes, are that the data you collect must be relevant to the ways you are using it and that it must not be retained for longer than is necessary. Event organisers should consider these two standards together.


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Deleted data is often accessible

Event organisers have to prevent it being misused

We live in a busy world and the transient nature of our industry can mean that we are quick to move on to our next event. But before moving on, it’s worth making sure that your policies and procedures include tying up some loose ends.
It can be tempting to keep registration data indefinitely, because you never know when you may need it, but the more data you have stored, the more likely you will be hacked – especially if it is spread over multiple servers.


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Free advice on data protection

Answers to important questions for event organisers

Data is the key to the success of events. Every event generates a mountain of data ranging from contact details to dietary requirements to sponsor leads. As the event approaches, that data is typically shared across a variety of participants, from exhibitors to advertisers to hotels. This data can also move across international borders. Put simply, a lot of information moves around a lot of different people in a lot of different countries.

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Invest only in proven technology

Sort the hype from the real benefits

I’ve often written about the hype surrounding new tech products and our industry’s insistence on announcing them with fanfares and declarations that they’re life-changing. This insistence in promoting untried tech can be confusing and organisers often say that choosing the right tech is the most confusing part of their role. Anyone in this bewildering position may find it useful to consider this: all new technology goes through a ‘hype cycle’ – five key phases of a technology’s lifecycle. Understanding the hype cycle will help you decide if, or when, to adopt a technology.

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Assess your tech supplier

Not only equipment has to be fail-safe

The Internet of things (IoT) has received some bad press recently when the company behind Revolv announced that they are withdrawing all support for the product. Revolv is a little device that sits in your home and allows you to control lighting, heating and other home functions remotely via an app on a mobile device. The company behind it announced a while ago that they would be halting manufacture, but only now have they completely withdrawn support. Without that support it simply stops working – rendering it ‘as useful as a tub of humus’ according to one disgruntled user.

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Don’t believe the hype!

A very successful low-tech conference – on technology!

In our industry, we seem to be constantly told that keeping abreast of technology is essential; our industry conferences would seem antiquated without the obligatory technology streams. But who’s telling us that it’s vital to use the latest technology in events and where’s the proof?

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Mobile phones at events

Should they really be banned?

According to IMEX research, 40% of organisers would like to ban mobile phones (and other portable devices) from conference sessions. They say they are too distracting for delegates.
The American comedian Kevin Hart recently tried to do that at one of his gigs. Before he came on stage, the audience was subjected to several aggressive Tannoy announcements that the use of mobile phones and cameras was banned and that they should be switched off and kept in pockets.


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