Author: Brian Scott, President and Chief Information Officer, ClearTone Consulting, LLC
I had a terrible dream last night. I awoke early this morning, with an elevated heartrate and the slight mist of sweat on my brow, having dreamt a frightful image. In this nightmare, the entire exhibitions and meetings industry had completely shut down due to a pandemic. Events that ranged in sized from small professional gatherings to the largest of tradeshows that once filled entire convention centers vanished in the blink of an eye as health restrictions were mandated seemingly overnight. Massive revenues were lost, organizations were strained, jobs were lost, and those souls that remained slogged forward with hope dwindling by the day as what was once believed to be weeks turned into months and months. It was horrible.
Clearly, imagining 2020 to have been only a bad dream is wishful thinking. For those of us that have nurtured careers within an industry we’ve grown to love, every day since March of 2020 has begun with this scenario poking us in the eye. It’s been an unwelcomed ground-hog day that seems to be easing as we’ve headed into fall of 2021, albeit at a pace not quite meeting our expectations. Thanks Delta! But, after my attendance at CEIR Predict 2021, the light at the end of the tunnel feels much more real and ever brighter. Thank goodness I elected to attend in person my first industry event in 18 months!
I’m sure you’re intrigued as to my optimism and positivity! I’m fully aware the industry needs some good news and since so many were not at Predict, let me share some of the great news that I took away with me in regard to the outlook for the economy and the exhibitions industry. As a shameless plug, I will add that…
So, let’s jump into the data points that lit me up! I’ll start by sharing these three beautiful words: Recovery, Transitory-Inflation, and Opportunity. In all three cases, I saw compelling data at Predict that supported a very Good News story for the exhibitions industry, and the economy at large. This is the good news that so many of us need.
Recovery: According to a well data-documented presentation by Dr. Patricia Buckley, the Managing Directory for Economics at Deloitte Services, there are solid reasons to be very bullish on the economy’s recovery and growth over the next 5 years. Thank goodness! Dr. Buckley shared data from the Deloitte US Economic Forecast Q3 study that presented the following forecasts. What jumps off the page is that even the least optimistic forecast model (yellow) indicates strong growth and the most optimistic (orange) is extremely exciting. What a welcomed view of our future.
Transitory Inflation: Turn on any news broadcast today and you’ll see quite a bit of information indicating the upward trend of inflation. This is extremely concerning and, if unchanged, would have a deleterious effect upon recovery. Fortunately, Dr. Buckley explained that there are sound reasons to believe that the current ‘spike’ in inflation is transitory and not indicative of a long-lasting trend. In fact, when outlier data that can be explained by COVID-related dynamics is removed, the remaining data indicates no significant inflationary trends. Once we get to the other side of some of these pandemic-related issues such as supply chain disruption, we should experience a calming or resetting of these inflation indicators. Thanks goodness number two!
Lastly, Opportunity: We are in such a strange period of time and that can’t be overstated. Dr. Buckley shared data that shows the number of job openings to be greater than the number of unemployed. There are plenty of theories as the contributing factors to this odd situation, but I believe in the end opportunity will equate to growth and an improvement in the economy. It’s time to get to work!
So, there you have it. It’s a good news story and I hope that all of you can find some solace in this hopeful forecast. There is, I’m afraid, the proverbial ‘but’ in this storyline. I wouldn’t be true to my beliefs if I didn’t include it. Even if the overall economy experiences this level of growth and subsequently the exhibitions industry follows suit, there are still significant challenges facing this historically face-to-face industry. Significant change in working, buying, and selling behaviors have occurred and they will not return to pre-COVID paradigms. These changes will continue to be disruptive within the exhibitions industry and only those organizations, including associations, that embrace the need for change and develop a digital-first mindset will survive and thrive. Many will not heed the warnings and once awakened will find it to be too late. I recommend a healthy and honest assessment of your organization’s ability and willingness to face the required need of digital transformation so that you’re not left by the wayside and awaken once again with a nightmare even worse than 2020.
About the author:
Brian Scott is the President of ClearTone Consulting and Partner of Techmatch.
With over 20 years of CIO experience and 35 years as a technologist, he is an accomplished Chief Technology and Information Officer focusing on developing technology strategies that support business goals through competitive insights, leveraging efficient tech management and team development, and ensuring data security and system reliability.
Brian has led large development teams that have created industry-leading products responsible for driving tens of millions of dollars in revenue. With ClearTone Consulting, he has been leveraging his years of experience to provide fractional CIO and CTO services for companies both within and outside of the events industry.
While CIO of Experient, Brian led the product development strategy and spearheaded several product concepts including eventBit™️ , the exhibitions industries leading behavioral analytics platform, which was granted a US patent in 2019 (Patent Number: US 10,311,267 B2).
Brian has the honor of being the first technology professional to participate as a director on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events®️ (IAEE). He is a Tennessee Volunteer at heart and his blood runs deep orange due to his undergraduate studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where he received his Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering with Honors. He also earned a Master’s of Science in Technology Management from the University of Maryland Global Campus.
His personal passions include his wife and two sons, music, and fitness. He is a 30-year veteran of live music performance, a published musical play composer, and a recording studio engineer and producer. When he’s not in the studio, you’ll find him out on his bike climbing the local hills.