The WorldWide Technology Watch, an international contest judging top event technology innovations, drew 46 entries in 2009, more than any year since its inception in 2000. The deliberations are over and the honor goes to Pathable, an online community and social network for conferences.
Sponsored by EIBTM, the Barcelona, Spain–based meetings and incentives exhibition, WWTW attracted submissions from companies in 12 countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, United Kingdom, and the United States. Entries are judged on three criteria—innovation, completeness of product, and impact on the meetings industry.
Launched in April 2008, Pathable allows meeting attendees to communicate with each other before, during, and after a meeting. It recommends attendees with shared interests who might be good for the user to connect with, aggregates Twitter and blog feeds; and can tell attendees if Twitter friends are registered. Pathable has set up social networks for almost 100 conferences this year, including Meeting Professionals International’s 2009 MeetDifferent conference in February and its 2009 World Education Conference in June.
Jordan Schwartz, CEO of Pathable, says that “meeting planners as a whole tend to be a risk averse group,” but he believes their audiences are ready. “Social networking is rapidly becoming an integral part of our social fabric,” he says. “So we spend a lot of time making sure that the product is drop-dead simple to use and educating meeting planners on how tech-savvy the people they serve have become.”
Honorable mentions for the 2009 WWTW went to Vision Tree (mobile technology software for meetings), Sherpa Solutions (an RFID badge with precise location tracking and the ability to bookmark attendees, booths, and products), and BusyEvent (a wearable, social-networking, expo-lead-management, session-tracking, and audience-response tool).