EXHIBITION INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS
88% of exhibition industry executives report that AI technologies are being utilised by their business, the highest rate of any sector surveyed.
54% of exhibition respondents say that AI technologies positively impact their companies’ resilience to Covid-19.
89% of exhibitions executives agree that emerging technologies are helping their business be more competitive.
98% of exhibitions leaders believe emerging technologies are having a positive impact on their industry.
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have achieved widespread adoption, and acceptance as a competitive differentiator across the US business landscape. But as AI becomes more prevalent, American business leaders are facing an array of challenges preventing them from optimizing these technologies to grow their businesses, according to a study released by RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.
The 2021 RELX Emerging Tech Executive Report marks the fourth edition of the survey and provides a four-year analysis of AI trends across eight industries in the US: government, healthcare, insurance, legal, science/medical, banking, agriculture and exhibitions.
In the events industry, AI is transforming the power of exhibitions to deliver highly tailored business interactions, learning and brand experiences, through personalised recommendations, matchmaking, chat bots, automated marketing and more. This technological transition was underway before the pandemic but Covid-19 has rapidly accelerated the pace of change.
This report features insights from exhibition industry executives and covers AI’s impact on the business’ success, the future of work, ethics, and the Covid-19 response.
Artificial Intelligence is transforming the exhibitions industry and changing competitive dynamics.
98% of exhibition executives believe emerging technologies are having a positive impact on their industry. 88% are currently using AI technologies in their business, the highest rate of any sector surveyed. And 89% agree that emerging technologies are helping their business be more competitive.
Covid-19 continues to reshape and disrupt the exhibitions industry. 54% of exhibition respondents say that AI technologies positively impact their companies’ resilience to Covid-19. 41% of exhibition respondents are investing in new AI technology, and 62% investing further in technology they already use. Almost half (46.6%) have created new roles focused on the use of AI technologies, while 43.4% say they have expanded the areas of their business touched by AI technologies.
Among the top reasons cited for AI technology use are to ‘increase efficiencies or worker production’ (48.9%) and to ‘streamline processes and/or reduce costs’. Other reasons include to inform future business decisions (45.5%), improve supply chains (34.1%), hire the right talent (35.2%) and improve customer retention (33%).
While many US businesses have increased their investment in AI, 95% of respondents across all industry sectors report that hiring and retaining AI talent is a challenge. Nevertheless, over half of exhibition respondents (53.2%) say they have increased their data scientist and other technologists headcount to support their use of AI technologies. 56% are hiring external talent to assist in building out projects using AI technologies.
Exhibitions executives are committed to investing in upskilling their workforce, with 93% saying they offer training on AI technologies. 65% of executives working in the exhibitions industry report AI technologies are most likely to impact hiring by increasing the fairness of the application/interview phase, and 50% say AI technologies are boosting the overall efficiency of the hiring process.
Most exhibitions executives say that the pandemic has had an impact on how AI technologies and resources are managed, including 90% who believe countries should share technologies and resources.
Ethical AI is defined as AI systems designed and operated to be compatible with the ideals and values of human dignity, rights, freedoms, and cultural diversity.
Exhibitions respondents acknowledge the importance of ethical AI but delivering on that promise is easier said than done. Nine out of ten (93%) exhibition executives believe that ethical standards in the development and use of AI can make them more competitive. Yet 81% have identified existing bias in AI technologies used by their company. An even higher percentage (92%) responded that the implementation of AI technologies impacts the risk of bias in the workplace.
Asked what measure they are taking to mitigate bias in their AI technology, 57% said they are reviewing all legacy systems, 56% said they are replacing legacy systems, and 38% said they are increasing training.
One possible reason for the disconnect between the desire for ethical AI and the existence of biased technologies is that 87% of exhibition leaders believe there is a trade-off between ethical AI and productivity in their company.
Despite the perceived impact on productivity, progress is being made. 82% of exhibitions executives currently have an AI code of ethics in place, and 93% of those offering training on AI believe their company is making it a priority to train employees in developing AI models that do not contain or replicate bias, as well as other AI ethics good practices.
Only 4% of exhibitions respondents believe that regulations are not needed for AI technologies. While this represents a small number of business leaders, there are differences in opinions as to how AI should be regulated. The majority of exhibitions executives (65%) believe emerging technologies should be regulated at an international level, while 57% believe they should be regulated at a national level, and 34% at a state level.
For additional findings, including an industry-by-industry breakdown please see the Executive Summary.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
With Ipsos, RELX surveyed 1,021 adults in the United States between the ages of 30 – 74. To qualify, respondents had to be employed full-time, have a household income of at least $50,000, work at a company with more than 50 employees, and currently be a senior executive or senior decision maker/leader at their company. Respondents also had to be employed in one of eight industries featured in this report to qualify, and they had to either use AI technology at their business or be aware of it. The qualifications were consistent to those used in 2020 though new definitions were included in this survey to describe some industries.
RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. www.rxglobal.com
RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs more than 33,000 people of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York stock exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalization is approximately £43.5bn/€51.4bn/$59.7bn.