Analysis Australia Updates

Q&A with TEDxMelbourne curator, Jon Yeo

“The best event organisers take a controlled environment and create an experience that people will remember”but what happens when AI enters the fold?

In the lead-up to Creative Innovation 2019 (Ci2019), we sit down with TEDxMelbourne curator Jon Yeo, who will be addressing audiences at the Melbourne event next month.

As a speaker coach and leadership mentor, Yeo knows a thing or two about communication and engagement, and in the ‘Augmented Age’, he is increasingly concerned about how we can co-create a new reality for human potential. Here, Yeo shares his thoughts on AI and its impact on business events.

When it comes to AI-powered tools at events, what’s happening now, what are the benefits and challenges, and what can we expect in the future?

I haven’t yet seen AI as standalone technology at events, but I do see AI-supported tech for attendees and event organisers. For organisers, I see that AI has most benefit for large-scale, complex events, as opposed to small or bespoke experiences.  For large conventions, logistics will hugely benefit from AI. Anything from people flow, food distribution, layout and power, security and hospitality can all be supported with AI.

For attendees, they could be serviced by AI that can provide directions and answer questions. Can you imagine an AI directing a blind attendee, translating languages or providing real-time content? What about relevant event announcements based on preferences? Or helping like-minded people meet?

The challenge is the complexity and lack of interoperability between technologies. As an ex-IT guy, I see these problems growing as IoT and smart devices become part of our day to day lives. Security will be a big part of this.

Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University presenting at Ci2016.

How big is the need to up-skill/ re-skill talent in order to remain relevant as AI technology advances and replaces jobs?

Currently the skills required to do these technology-based jobs are not with the people responsible for managing events. In the short term, they need to be hired from outside of the industry, so no short-term job losses. A data scientist does not have marketing skills or event logistics skills. However, the analysis and interpretation of that data could be done by an AI. Much of that is very manual at the moment and done by marketers and logistics specialists.

I see jobs expanding and new roles being created in this industry in the short term. Factory robots only replaced people when the worker had a single specialised task that was repetitive. The events industry hasn’t hit that threshold yet. Probably because people can do random and spontaneous things at events.

How can meetings and events help to up-skill and educate people in various industry for the future of work?

The best event organisers take a controlled environment and work toward creating an experience that people will remember. I think that directly translates into customer experience design, as well as employee engagement. Both these specialisations will be the differentiators for organisations of the future.

Jon is a past Chapter President of Professional Speakers Australia and leads TEDxMelbourne as Licensee and Curator. He will be leading a masterclass on ‘Talking Your Truth in Times of Transition’ at Creative Innovation, which takes place in Melbourne on 1-3 April, 2019. For more information visit: