Brave new world: Ideas for digital transformation

STB recently hosted a virtual marketplace where tech companies pitched digital solutions for contactless and virtual event experiences. Here are our top picks.

XPOmania’s example of a car expo: The new normal for exhibitions could look like this, featuring pre-designed exhibition booths, click-to-explore product features, and 1-to-1 chats with sales representatives
XPOmania’s example of a car expo: The new normal for exhibitions could look like this, featuring pre-designed exhibition booths, click-to-explore product features, and 1-to-1 chats with sales representatives Photo Credit: XPOmania, D’CRYPT

SINGAPORE — After announcing a risk management framework for small meetings and hybrid events (up to 50 pax), the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) recently held a series of webinars to showcase tech solutions to help support MICE and hospitality businesses drive digital transformation.   

The webinars, held last week, presented 25 digital solutions – out of nearly 200 submissions – that addressed five previously identified opportunity areas: contactless and virtual experiences, real-time monitoring, crowd management, safe workplaces, cleanliness and hygiene.

“We can all learn from one another, what worked – and scale it up. As businesses open up and resume operations, we received many queries focusing largely on three things: What should we do so we can open our businesses in this new normal? How can we be a business that’s safe [for both customers and staff], and where can we get these solutions from?” said Poh Chi Chuan, Executive Director, digital transformation technology transformation group, STB.

Here are some ideas presented, and how events planners can use these technologies to bring their businesses onto the digital bandwagon of today’s new normal. 

Virtual experiences 

Issue: With ongoing restrictions to meetings and live events, how can brands showcase products and create a dialogue with potential buyers?

Consider this: XPOMania’s expertise is in shifting the physical exhibition online as much as possible. During the e-event, attendees can view exhibitors on show via interactive 3D maps, then zoom into a company’s booth – which can be chosen from a catalogue of pre-designed exhibition booths. At the booth itself, it’s also possible to view a product, such as a car, in its entirety: opening the door, sitting inside the vehicle, turning on lights and other features offered.

Not forgetting about the human interaction, XPOmania created the public meeting room setting so live sales representatives are ready to attend to questions. Exhibitors have the additional power to enter into public rooms to give ‘live’ talks.

Speaking at the STB webinar, Mark Wong of XPOmania shared that there’s no limit to the number of exhibitors and visitors the platform can hold, indicating “we will scale the server according to expected traffic”. It’s also possible to create virtual tours with interactive features – a solution applicable for permanent exhibitions, and incentives experiences.”

Issue: Once I've made the digital ‘pivot’, how do I bring the platform to life? And how can I train staff?

Consider this: Like XPOmania, SIMTech shifts the physical exhibition online – and additionally includes coaching services touching on technology, storytelling, video editing, web conferencing tools and even know-how on building 3D models for online use, so companies can create their own immersive experiences in future.

“A virtual model versus a live area is very different, so we do a trial run with our clients – highlighting the technical challenges to look out for, and how to use web conferencing tools to bring the immersive experience to customers,” said Aloysious Lee, research engineer at SIMTech.

Issue: How can I make sure my products retain their presence in the marketplace, while finding a way to still connect with my international buyers?

Consider this: Delight Labs has engineered an AI-driven assistant to power voice apps through multilingual platforms. What this could mean for the future of events such as conferences, is the possibility of having a voicebot take over the traditional role of a translator. Better yet, instead of needing a huge team to build a voice app, M&C Asia understands the voice solution from Delight Labs is "as simple as writing a blog post," said Andrew Kwan, CEO at Delight Labs.

"This is one of the primary benefits of using voicebots — to support attendees from various language and cultural backgrounds, and to reduce the burden on hiring and training multilingual staff."

For overseas events where an exhibitor has either paid for and can't fly there due to changing public health situations, or does not have a local represent, voicebots could also be placed at unstaffed exhibition booths - acting as a virtual assistant to engage booth visitors, answer questions naturally and aggregate customer enquiries - which Kwan reckons "is a good fallback option for all exhibitors in the new normal".

Contactless solutions for health and safety

Issue: What if an event attendee is detected as being unwell? 

Consider this: Kent Ridge Healthcare Singapore’s contactless temperature taking device, called EUDA AI, not only captures data in one second over a distance of one metre, it also detects and remind users who aren’t wearing masks.

Once a fever is detected, the visitor will be denied entry and an alarm will sound. In an event setting, the visitor will be redirected to myEUDA — a telemedicine application that connects users to Kent Ridge Healthcare’s doctors for a phone consultation, and delivers medication within four hours. For those who require further tests, the app can also redirect users to approximately 100 clinics across Singapore. While there are currently no plans for one-off rentals, M&C Asia understands that Kent Ridge Healthcare is open to further discussions with event planners.

Issue: How can I make contact tracking easy and user-friendly? 

Consider this: To help monitor the movement of delegates, events planners can opt for BluePass, a Bluetooth-powered contact-tracing device powered by D’CRYPT. The wearable device is small (measuring 5cm by 3cm) and lightweight (the weight of two 50-cent coins) and requires zero user-configuration — and can last 12 months without charging. 

Crowd control

Issue: Venues and attractions with multiple zones require visitors to scan QR codes for every single entrance point. How can I improve this experience for delegates/customers? 

Consider this: For larger events with multiple zones or booths, Viatick’s active contact tracing tool, called Jarvis, follows visitors’ movements across various areas.

“For spacious attractions like Gardens by the Bay (GBTB), we shouldn’t dilute the immersive experience of being in such a beautiful place, and we simply cannot request for the multiple scanning of SafeEntry QR codes,” said Brandon Poon from Viatick.

Working in the background, Jarvis can be integrated into an existing venue/event app. On a centralised screen, organisers can track crowd density via heat maps and, where necessary, issue alerts or mobilise ushers to disperse the crowd. For visitors without mobile apps, hardware is also available from Viatick to support crowd control.

Monitoring new capacity limits

Consider this: Teradata is able to track actual movement patterns and calculate total time spent in an exhibition. When social distancing is violated in a particular room, this can be seen on a dashboard in real time, with alerts sent to mobile devices. Teradata’s existing clients include Changi Airport, and Frasers Property.

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