The Best of the Best of 2012

new year

There’s no better way to look back on 2012 then to review the year-end lists other organizations have compiled. I’ve always wanted them to be compiled in one spot, so I thought I would do this for you!

Before I dive into these lists, I want to share one of the coolest honors that happened this past year. Home is where the heart is and my town, Downers Grove, ranked as the eighth friendliest town according to Forbes. In my opinion, this is the best blog of the year.

That wasn’t the only cool thing that happened in 2012. Here are the best of the best of 2012:

The Top Ten Most Viral Videos: Kony takes number one on Mashable’s list. Not only did the video take this honor, but it was the most viral video in history.

The Best Books of 2012: No matter what genre you read or what age you are, NPR has a best books list for you all. I’m happy to say I’ve read many of them this year.

Chicago’s Best Restaurants: There is no better way to rate Chicago restaurants than with Michelin Stars. I’ve been to many of these establishments. Have you?

The Best Microbrews: Ask Men developed a great list of microbrews and their corresponding breweries. This list is enough to make your mouth water.

The Best Android and iPhone Game: Whether your pledge your phone allegiance to Android or Apple, there is a game for you on this list. Angry Birds Star Wars anyone?

The Best of Chicago in Photos: The Chicago Reader compiled some great photos that encompass the best of Chicago. These photos are simply gorgeous.

Interesting Facts About the U.S. Economy: This is a not-so-funny list of facts, but nonetheless a great list from The Economic Collapse.

For Everyone Else: Just in case there was a list I missed that piqued your interest, Google has a list of every topic you can imagine.

What will 2013 have in store for you? HAPPY NEW YEAR, make it awesome.

– “Opportunity knocks at the strangest times. It’s not the time that matters, But how you answer the door.” -Steve Gray


Looking Ahead: Tech Trends for 2013

The New Year is just around the corner and it’s never to early to start looking at the new technology that will be available in 2013.

Gartner announced its top 10 tech trends at the annual IT/expo in Orlando last week, with
the mobile device battle topping their list.  2013 is looking to be a fun year in the technology arena. Let’s take a look at the rest of the upcoming year’s trends:

  1. Mobile Devices: Mobile phones are expected to overtake PCs as the most common Web access device. Will they serve as a replacement? According to Gartner, yes and no. IT departments may need to adapt, shifting focus to supporting mobile devices for workers who need them. However, they do believe that this signals the end of Windows as the single platform for the corporate world.
  2. A long-term shift from native apps to Web apps as HTML5 becomes more capable: There has been a lot of talk about the switch to HTML5. Native apps won’t be a thing of the past. In fact, they will still provide the best user interfaces and more sophisticated features.
  3. The personal cloud replaces the notion of personal computer: How many of you store multiple items in the cloud? If you don’t yet, chances are you will store everything on the cloud.
  4. The Internet of things: Absolutely every device will be connected to the Internet, cameras, microphones, buildings and sensors included. This change will lead to new products, including tax policies, and will raise new questions. I think this will be an interesting trend to watch, especially in how it affects business development.
  5. Cloud computing: As the cloud continues to gain traction, IT departments are going to shift part of their focus on creating cloud services brokerages for the management of access to the cloud.
  6. Strategic big data: Big data is becoming more economical as the cost of servers and CPUs has decreased. Gartner believes that more companies will be moving toward big data analysis.
  7. Actionable analytics: This trend links with number six. Because low-cost processing is cheaper, it enables companies to dive in to perform analytics and simulations. This trend may provide more companies with the ability to predict the future.
  8. In-memory computing: Gartner believes that this is transformational. The technology enables long processes to be completed in a manner of minutes – even seconds. Any expenses incurred in implementing in-memory computing will pay for itself in increased efficiencies.
  9. Virtual appliances integrated ecosystems: Virtual appliances not take the place of physical appliances, but will gain traction.
  10. Enterprise App Stores: Apps are becoming the source for users to get everything they need from a company. IT departments will turn essentially into market managers.

Have you seen any evidence of these trends in your daily life?

Trends in the Small Meeting Realm

Whether it’s a small meeting or a large conference, I love to hear all about the new trends in the event planning realm. Arthur Backal, CEO of Backal Hospitality Group, recently published his Top 10 Small Meeting Trends. They are quite fascinating and I must say, some of them have been brought to my attention.

Healthier Food and Beverage Offerings: As the obesity epidemic gains more exposure, more clients are requesting healthy choices for their guests, including grilled fish and chicken as well as nuts and fruits.

Hybrid Events: I love hybrid events. So much I even wrote a blog about them. If you missed it, check it out here.

Social Media and Event Application Engagement: Facebook, Twitter, social media contests and Q&As are all part of the event planning process now. Event applications on smartphones are extremely popular for planners.

Inspiring Meeting Environments: Non-traditional spaces are being requested more and more. Clients are looking for dry erase walls and tackable surfaces for brainstorming activities.

Green Meetings: I’ve been seeing a lot of sustainable options at meetings. Whether it be glasses and pitchers of water or handouts being stored in the cloud, these small requests matter.

Technology Amenities for Attendees: We’re always connected to our technology and now guests at events demand it. They want computer access, Wi-Fi and charging stations.

Philanthropic Spirit: With corporate social responsibility continually being implemented into a company’s foundation, many meetings are being held to increase awareness and participation in this philanthropic component.

Mobile Event Planning Tools: If there is a tool to help with registration, floor plans and even seating charts, it’s being utilized.

Unconferences: Many companies are creating events based on what their employees want to cover. Backal explains this switch: “This new trend is called the unconference. Clients join casual, breakout conversations and bring the takeaways to another conference environment within the same event. This gives the attendees a chance to create their own agenda and participate in relevant sessions.”

Technology as Decor: Everyone is looking to save money. Why hire a production company when you can use projection screens and plasma TVs to create color at events.

If you’ve attended an event that had any of these components, it was trendy one! Share your stories with me on Twitter @RyanKDean.

The Term Hybrid Isn’t Just For Cars

When you think of the term hybrid, chances are you think of the latest trend in sustainable cars. In the world of event planning, hybrid events and meetings are one of the new hottest trends.

Many professionals are organizing these hybrid meetings, in which there are face-to-face and virtual components. Say you want to have a two-day meeting, but don’t have the monetary resources to execute it. You can host an in-person event one day and then conduct the rest of your event via Skype, or vice versa.

While this may seem to out-of-the-box for many, professionals who attend these hybrid events are meeting the goals that they set out to achieve.

A new joint study from Sonic Foundry and Meeting Professional International has found that 83 percent of planners meet their objectives and 70 percent believe hybrid meetings will be a part of the future.

“This research clearly supports what we have known but lacked scientific data to support,” said MPI COO and interim CEO Cindy D’Aoust in the white paper. “By strategically using hybrid technology, the planner can expand the reach of their event, which increases the ability to drive business results — a far more valuable asset than merely controlling costs.”

I’ve started to see much of this trickle into corporate event planning. Have you been to or hosted a hybrid event? Share your stories!

Trends in Green Events

As Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green.”

Sustainability has entered its way into the event planning realm. Event planners are starting to see requests from their clients, whether it is a private client or a larger corporation, for opportunities to host an eco-friendly event.

There are interesting trends emerging in the area of green event planning. A huge trend is organic menus and ingredients. Events are now serving food produced with locally grown produce, meats and eggs. Printing the name of the farms on your menus is a great disclosure that will give you extra credibility within the green world.

To go with your dinner, you need to have an eco-friendly wine correct? Check into the practices of the vineyard to ensure they comply with eco-friendly practices.

Decorations can be eco-friendly as well. Invitations are coming with seeds on recycled paper, flowers are now pesticide-free flowers and other items are homegrown.

Being ahead of the curve will gain you great credibility within the marketplace. Take care of the needs of your client, and your client will take care of you for years to come.