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Making connections at Ag Days

It’s a lot quieter at the Ag Days office these days, thanks in large part to technology.

“We don’t have as many people paging the office,” says Ag Days webmaster Tom Tolton. “We used to have message boards up and lots of people paging, but today they all have cellphones to communicate with each other.”

Ag Days has embraced technology to make it easier for exhibitors and attendees to register and keep informed about the event.

For the first time exhibitors at Ag Days were able to register online for the 2012 show and the Ag Days website, which was first launched about eight years ago, also underwent a major facelift this year.

“The website is really important so that the 36,000 or more people who come to the event can look ahead of time and see what’s going to be there and when,” says Tolton.

Advances in mobile communications technology have changed people’s expectations about how and when information is delivered, and has allowed organizers to better meet those expectations by providing immediate and accurate updates about the show.

“In the past sometimes there have been changes and updates after we have printed the program,” says Tolton. “The website is the place that people can check for any changes or something new and unexpected.”

Technology is also having an effect on the program itself. This year Ag Days is using webinar technology for the first time to connect a speaker from Hamburg, Germany to participants at the Keystone Centre, who will be able to interact through floor microphones patched into the system.

Thomas Mielke, executive director of ISTA Mielke Gmbh, Oil World will present a seminar via the Internet about the global outlook for oilseeds during Wednesday’s session on agronomy highlights from around the world.

“This is really new for us,” says Tolton, “and it’s a great opportunity for participants to be able to ask questions of a speaker from the other side of the world. And it’s more convenient for the speaker as he can deliver the seminar right from his desk and doesn’t have to worry about travel time and costs.”

Organizers hope next year to go fully mobile, allowing web access and updates to be delivered instantly through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Although technology has changed the way in which people generally connect with each other, the one-on-one contact they can get at Ag Days is still important.

“For some of the exhibitors the show provides 70 per cent of their contacts for the year,” says Tolton. “That hasn’t changed, but the way that they make contact with their clients has. So technology plays a role behind the scenes, but the handshake at the show is still a big part of the attraction of Ag Days.”

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