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The March of Advancing Technologies

CEIR CEO Cathy Breden explores the opportunities and risks involved with applying burgeoning AI technology to exhibitions.

By Cathy Breden, CMP Fellow, CAE, CEM, CEO, Center for Exhibition Industry Research

Originally published on

Consider this: by 2030, according to futurist Rohit Talwart, AI’s (artificial intelligence) potential contribution to the global economy will be $15.7 trillion. To provide some context, the U.S. deficit in 2023 is estimated to be $1.4 trillion. Microsoft is investing $108 billion in OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. Billions of dollars are being invested in the metaverse, and once Web 3.0 is fully developed, we will have a better understanding of the impact of these technologies.

As is the case with any emerging technology, there are opportunities and risks. I do not pretend to understand all of these technologies, but I know enough to see that there are opportunities and risks for the exhibitions industry. The opportunity comes from using these emerging technologies to the benefit of your events. The risk is doing nothing. As an example, one application is using AI for a better understanding of how to leverage AI to create personalized experiences for your attendees.

Digital transformation and digitizing content is especially important, and companies are hopefully investing in their technology infrastructure to prepare for emerging technologies. Many organizers will courageously be in the forefront of innovation. Does your software have AI capabilities, and if so, how can they be used to your show’s benefit?

In order for trade shows to continue their success, organizers must prioritize data literacy and capabilities. If no one on staff has the skills, experience and knowledge, hire a contractor that does. Remember that one thing that holds true today is the ability to provide metrics that provide proof of value for trade shows to exhibitors and attendees. There will be, and are, other ways for them to connect. Leverage technology for your benefit.

I hope to see you at Predict: CEIR’s Annual Outlook Conference on 29-30 August 2023 at the MGM National Harbor, where we will discuss these disruptors along with their challenges and opportunities, and ones to come.

About the Author

Cathy Breden, CMP-F, CAE, CEM serves as Executive Vice President & COO for the International Association of Exhibitions & Events® (IAEE) and CEO for the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), whose primary purpose is to promote the growth, awareness and value of exhibitions and other face-to-face marketing events by producing and delivering research-based knowledge tools.

Cathy is a frequent presenter on the areas of exhibition industry trends and the power of exhibitions in face-to-face marketing. She is currently serving as Chairperson on the Events Industry Council’s Board of Directors. She is also adjunct faculty at Dallas College, Richland Campus.

Cathy is a Certified Association Executive (CAE), Certified Meeting Professional Fellow (CMP-F) and Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM). She is a graduate of Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA.

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