Future Tense

There is no need to fear change, it’s often not as scary as it seems

As we begin the new year it’s natural to look forward to the future. Right now there are a number of issues on the horizon that are causing concern for a lot of people. One of the biggies is the emergence of AI and the effect it will have on the workplace.

Meeting and event planners face some unique concerns regarding AI, potentially sparking some fear or apprehension. The key fear is job displacement. Like in many other fields, the concern with AI automating tasks currently handled by planners is quite real. AI can handle logistics, vendor management, scheduling, budget optimization, and even basic attendee engagement, leaving planners questioning their long-term role. Don’t worry. Meeting planning as a profession is not going away. Sure technology has a history of eliminating jobs, but professions and industries is far less common.

Here are a couple of examples of when new technology failed to kill a profession and industry:

The Jacquard Loom. Invented in 1804 by Joseph-Marie Jacquard, the Jacquard Loom revolutionized the textile industry and had a profound impact on the world. The loom’s use of punched cards to control the weaving process unknowingly laid the foundation for modern computing. Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, was inspired by the Jacquard loom’s binary system and used punch cards to program his Analytical Engine. This connection between weaving and computing is considered a pivotal moment in the history of computer technology.

But did it eliminate hand-made clothing? Not at all. According to Business Research Insights, in 2021, the most recent year statistics are available, the global custom made clothing market was almost $52 billion; and there are at least 500 Weaving Guilds in operation around the world today. So well over 200 years since the invention of an automated loom the hand woven clothing industry is still in operation on a large scale.

Terrestrial Radio. All three networks began regular, commercial television broadcasts in the 1940s. NBC and CBS began commercial operations in 1941, followed by ABC in 1948. Up until that point radio was the chief platform for electronic entertainment. Did television destroy radio? Not at all. According to Pew Research, in 2022, over 70 years after television began airing, 82% of Americans ages 12 and older listened to terrestrial radio in a given week.

Here are a couple of reasons why planners shouldn’t be worried about being replaced by AI:

The need for the human touch. Planning successful events often hinges on understanding attendee needs, building relationships, and adapting to unforeseen circumstances. These require emotional intelligence, creativity, and adaptability, areas where AI currently struggles. Planners fear AI might create sterile, impersonal experiences lacking the human touch that makes events memorable.

Unproven ROI. While the potential benefits of AI are promising, concrete evidence of its return on investment in event planning is still limited. This makes planners cautious about investing in untested technologies.

It’s important to remember that AI isn’t here to replace planners; it’s meant to be a powerful tool to augment their skills and capabilities. By leveraging AI for repetitive tasks and data analysis, planners can free up their time for more strategic work, creative problem-solving, and personalized interactions with attendees.

So, the key is not to fear AI, but to embrace it as a partner in creating better, more efficient, and impactful events. As planner skills evolve alongside AI technology, the future of event planning can be both innovative and human-centered.

Any thoughts, opinions, or news? Please share them with me at vince@meetingsevents.com.

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