The CEO of HeadBox: My 2020s prediction – AI will transform the events industry

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“There’s a smaller and smaller corner of intellectual pursuits that humans are better than computers and every year it gets smaller. Soon we will be far surpassed in every single way, guaranteed by computers or civilisation will end”.

This was Elon Musk’s prediction about our future during his debate with Jack Ma, the former CEO of Alibaba, the 4th largest internet company in the world, at the World Artificial Intelligence (AI) Conference in August 2019. He was arguing that the rate of change of technology is so fast it is outpacing our ability to understand it.

Max Tegmark in his book ‘Life 3.0: Being human in the age of Artificial Intelligence’ invites us “to the most important conversation of our time”. The Future of Life Institute said; “technology is giving life the potential to flourish like never before – or to self-destruct”.  According to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, AI is a collection of technologies that he calls more profound than electricity or fire. This is apocalyptic stuff but what is clear is that AI is and will cause a fundamental change to our everyday life.

This is supported by PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey for 2019 where 85% of the 1,378 Chief Executives across 90 territories agreed that AI will significantly change the way they do business in the next five years. That’s a striking number. In fact, close to two-thirds of global CEOs see it as bigger than the internet. This may make it hard to fathom but AI’s potential is too great to ignore. PwC sizes the prize at US$15.7 trillion in global GDP gains.

By plotting the frequency of terms in space descriptions against the value bracket that the space falls into, HeadBox can begin to visualise our understanding of how space descriptions can give us indications of a venue’s specific booking value.

According to a report by McKinsey “forty-seven per cent of respondents say their companies have embedded at least one AI capability in their business processes—compared with 20 per cent of respondents in a 2017 study who said their companies were using AI in a core part of their business or at scale”.

The advancement in AI means that computers will soon be able to perform the mundane repetitive tasks present in most business processes. This means replacing jobs currently done by humans. Interestingly Pwc’s recent analysis of OECD data covering 200,000 jobs in 29 countries breaks AI’s job displacement effect into 3 waves: algorithmic (until the early 2020s), augmentation (to late 2020s) and autonomy (to mid-2030s). The flip side of this is AI will create new jobs as well as free up time for employees to focus on tasks that require human judgement, EQ (emotional quotient), creativity or relationship building skills.

The events industry lends itself perfectly to all 3 of PwC’s waves as it is filled with inefficient repetitive processes currently executed by humans when the reality is that a computer would be better, quicker and more accurate. However, we don’t believe that a computer will ever replace human teams within our industry.

We think that AI can automate the manual repetitive tasks that require minimal thinking and overlay market-specific intelligence, enhancing the user’s decision-making abilities. This will mean that the humans in our industry can focus on the high EQ activities that computers won’t be able to solve for a long time.

HeadBox is using AI to deliver accurate prices for individual enquiries. This model visualises total event cost by location. Height scale corresponds to the number of venues in that region, with colour demonstrating average display value dark blue (low) to red (high).

Our Product and Tech teams will be focusing on our AI efforts in 2020 across four main pillars:

  • Personalised experiences: we will understand our users, what they want and their preferences so no two HeadBox experiences will ever be the same
  • Pricing: we will deliver instant accurate prices for each enquiry based on the analysis of thousands of historic event enquiries
  • Smart Venue Recommendations: we will deliver highly personalised suitable venue suggestions instantly without human-intervention
  • Style preferences: we will be able to make venue recommendations based on your aesthetic preferences as HeadBox machine learning understands your style

We predict that IQ (Artificial Intelligence) and EQ (emotional quotient) both have a firm place in the events industry and that clients who invest in both will become the leaders of change in this sector rather than the victims of it.

IQ + EQ = Human-kind Event Tech


Our 2020 Events Disruptor Report is a collection of articles that explore how and when the emerging trends in technology impact the events industry. To read the full report click here.

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