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July 24, 2017

Americas: Why Now Is the Time to Embrace Your Inner Data Geek

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As Duke University Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics Dan Ariely once famously said, “Big data is like teenage sex: Everyone talks about it; nobody really knows how to do it; everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they’re doing it.” But it’s time to develop a more mature relationship with digital, data, and analytics, said Denzil Rankine, executive chairman of AMR International to the 127 meetings, events, and exhibition professionals who came to the inaugural Transform USA conference at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center in Washington, D.C., on July 20. At stake is nothing less than a successful future for the trade show industry.

Comparing today’s trade show environment to the rise and eventual fall of the Blackberry, which failed to adjust as the iPhone came on the scene and stole its market, Rankine pointed out that the core value that trade shows traditionally have delivered upon—net square feet—is growing at just 2 percent, while digital revenues and corporate event budgets (the latter based on U.K. data) are growing at 12 percent, high-touch U.S. events are growing at 15 percent, and the event tech market is growing at 16 percent. That’s a disconnect that trade show organizers can ignore only at their peril, he said. 

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