To some event organizers, “AI Matching” sounds like a dream come true. Let your attendees register for your event, get them to answer a few choice questions, and hey presto, some clever machine can tell them who they should be meeting. If event attendees’ meetings do not yield fruit, blame it on the machine.
But is life really that simple? First, does the smart-arsed computer know that you and Joe used to work together and were glad to see the back of each other? Does it know that Carol is a family friend, and you can just pick up the phone and call her at will? Does it know that Fred registered for the event as a visitor instead of as an exhibitor and that he is a competitor of yours and not a potential client? Or that you and Penny spoke last week and have no need to meet again for a while? Or that Bill and you already do business, but you are looking for an alternative supplier? The number of things computers do not yet know about us is thankfully still rather large.
Where’s the AI?
Second, is there any AI involved, anyway? AI implies the machine learns. Amazon uses AI. It looks at what you buy. It looks at people who bought similar products and suggests other things they bought too. How often do you take up Amazon’s suggestions? If you are like me, then the answer is rarely. Invariably I am offered products that are substitutes for ones I have already purchased or supplementary items in which I have little interest.
Can the same hit-and-miss machine learning principles be applied to one-to-one meetings at events? Possibly, but why bother? All you need are a few well-crafted questions to establish your event attendees’ areas of interest, products and services sought or supplied, regions of operation, etc. With a couple of algorithms, the software can present attendees with a list of potential meeting partners whose profiles complement their own.
Most companies who offer one-to-one meetings do just that. The “AI Matching” slogan is marketing gloss. Unlike our competitors, we do not try to persuade event organizers that there is any magic involved. What we can offer, not readily available elsewhere, is the ability for attendees to build ordered lists of preferred meeting partners. Armed with this information and matching compatibility scores derived from profiles, the event organizer is just a few mouse-clicks away from creating optimal itineraries for their attendees. That is what we already do for many of our clients.
Alternatively, if the organizer does not wish to be involved in the matching process, we can let attendees quickly identify the most suitable meeting partners and arrange meetings among themselves.
Either way, there is no AI involved. We take great comfort in knowing that there is still room for conscientious event organizers to create satisfactory outcomes for their attendees. Perhaps we should call the process MAHI (Machine Assisted Human Intelligence)?