One of my favorite nuggets of insight gleaned from Thomas Friedman’s book Thank You for Being Late is the idea that sensors now take the guessing out of almost everything. And it got me thinking.
Friedman highlights that even the “dumbest appliances,” such as garbage cans and fire hydrants have been made smart using high-tech sensors, resulting in cost savings and improvements in quality and safety. We know that automobiles, thermostats, refrigerators and washing machines are among the myriad of necessities now made more efficient, thus serving us better, thanks to sensors. And global giant General Electric is becoming a software company by using sensors in everything from gas turbines and aircraft engines to oil and gas equipment.
Friedman tells us that the concept of conditional maintenance—tasks performed when conditions call for maintenance—is outdated. For example, if it looks dirty, wash it. Also archaic is the concept of preventive maintenance (tasks performed to keep things running smoothly even if not needed)—things like changing the oil every six thousand miles regardless of how many miles you’ve driven. Neither of these outdated approaches comes close to the precision made possible by sensors.
The future is about predictive maintenance and prescriptive maintenance—using sensors to determine the when, what and how of what needs to be done, just in time.
So…what does that have to do with you?
Well, if your organization has an annual event, you know that there are no automatic sensors telling you when things need to change, be improved, updated, modernized or repaired. This lack of sensors applies to the design of the event each year, as well as to the experience your audience encounters when they attend your events. It’s really hard to change the temperature in exactly the right rooms where education is held, fix the lukewarm coffee or shift traffic patterns if the flow on your trade show floor isn’t optimal.
So how do you install “sensors” to conduct predictive and prescriptive maintenance for your key events?
1. For starters, a “best-practices diagnostic” allows you to be sure that your event is performing at the level of the best events in the world. This is a practical “sensor” that can make a major difference to how well your event is keeping up with the relevant best of the best.
2. Second, there is so much new technology (beacons, RFID, etc.) to help improve the “real-time sensing” required to make sure you eliminate any friction for your guests when they are attending your event. There are many good options available, and costs have come down significantly in the past 24 months.
3. And finally, the best sensor of how well your event is performing is your audience—they are high-performing, high-capacity sensors that can provide all the feedback you need. Using new research approaches, different questions, innovative ways of engaging and better systems for analyzing, these live sensors will tell you much of what you need to know.
What are you waiting for? Condition-based maintenance is a twentieth-century approach—don’t wait to see if it’s dirty before you wash it, apply predictive and prescriptive maintenance strategies and technologies now. Your audience will thank you, and it will have a big positive impact on your bottom line.