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Ever Been Poken Down Under?

On a recent fam trip something rather unexpected and innovative happened. At Dreamtime 2011 in Australia, we were all given a Poken to share our information with the suppliers we were meeting. With an accepting grace I went with the flow, not being too clear  what I had in my hand.  I now Poken, do you? ...

At BI WORLDWIDE we are always on the look out for ways to make communication easier at conferences and meetings where time might be limited and there is key information that delegates need to take away.  Asking someone if they Poken is certainly an ice-breaker that gets the conversation moving!

Poken is like a USB device that uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology - the best way to think about it is as a digital business card where you can include your contact details, social network links, brochures, presentations and basically anything else you might want to share with someone!

How does it work?

The devices themselves are very easy to use. They come in a variety of shapes (branded if you wish) and the NFC technology is inside what looks like a waving hand. To transfer information with someone, you simply touch your waving hand against someone else’s; if the hand glows green then your transfer has been successful, amber means your device is full and red means you’ll need to try again. Simples!

The hand is replicated across all the Poken brand which means it is easily recognisable when there is information available to collect. As well as the USB device, Poken also have pokenTAGs which are stickers that contain pre-loaded information and can be placed in strategic locations at events for delegates to take the information from them.

When I got back to the office all I did was plug my Poken into a USB port and open the link to the pokenHUB, letting me sync all the information I collected in a timeline. Pretty slick and quick - all the contact details and information collected in Australia was just a click away.

You are also able to get pokenMOBILE for NFC enabled phones which allow you to start finding information about the things you collect immediately instead of having to wait until you have synced your Poken to a computer. Plus you don't have to worry about losing your device!

How can it add value?

I thought it was a brilliant idea and concept. I collected stacks of interesting and valuable information. Events can be paper free and therefore carbon friendly, and I was able to collect more information in a much more practical and accessible format. I found it easy to use and everything was just a mouse click away.

With electronic communication now standard it makes sense that our information is shared this way; at least there is only one thing you need to worry about misplacing as opposed to numerous business cards, leaflets, brochures and anything else you may acquire. Also, with the pace of life today, printed information becomes outdated so quickly that having access to a digital profile means you should always have access to the most current information, subject to the owner of the information keeping it up to date!

It is a very cost effective method of encouraging delegates to interact with each other and also fulfilling corporate social responsibility aims, not to mention that you leave an event with little more than you arrived with and no aching shoulders!

Where could it be used?

The only real benefit of Poken comes if everyone has one otherwise you will find yourself in a hybrid between digital and old methods but this certainly gives an insight into what business will be like in the future.

It certainly makes an event and networking easier and ensures that you walk away from it with everything you need readily accessible. If using the technology on a phone then Poken could be easily used for any sort of event to communicate and update itineraries, important contact details and for connecting with people you have not met before.

It does require a sensible logistical planning process to ensure that delegates don’t waste what is potentially a short amount of time trying to ‘poke’ each other and acquire the information/contact details but this could be easily aided by using the stickers.

Since the introduction of Poken, it seems to have evolved from a device purely designed for sharing social network details to a useful business product. It will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve. One thing would have been useful - the ability to connect wirelessly at events so, like the phone, it updates your hub on the internet automatically without having to sync it.

It's just one of many new technologies appearing and certainly has a place, especially in the relative closed environment of a corporate conference. How would you like to see networking improve at your company events?

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