Stephan Forseilles, Head of Technology and Digital Transformation, Easyfairs.

Last month, I had the pleasure to be on stage again with Gunnar Heinrich and Tesi Baur at UFI’s Asia Pacific Conference in Tokyo. With the help of the audience which could vote in real time, we debated several controversial digital topics.

Digital is a big shift, both for businesses and people. To face the exponential change, businesses must be able to attract and keep the best digital talent, especially the new profiles like data scientists, A.I. experts and data engineers. And they are rare. Out of the 30 “Hottest Jobs in 2018”, 20 are in technology and, more specifically, 8 are in the field of Data Intelligence.

Being the unicorns of the job market, those talents are searched by everyone, from the super-hype tech startups to the high-paying consultancy and banking firms. Exhibition organisers are neither of those: we have the image of a traditional business and, let’s be honest, we are not the best-paying industry in the world. So why would those rare profiles even consider working for the exhibition industry? They probably don’t even consider it.

Tesi Baur didn’t think so or at least not completely. Having worked for numerous large organisers in the past, he has seen many such profiles joining the industry. However, he admits that lots of them have left the industry within three years. We can attract them, but we can’t keep them.

Gunnar Heinrich paints an even darker picture: we use relatively old technologies, our IT budgets are low compared to other industries and organisers are often state-owned companies with extensive red tape and a low appetite for innovation. “This has to change! We have to re-think our culture and finally understand the digital shift”, says Gunnar.

And the audience seemed to agree.

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Almost 80% of the audience thinks that yes, there is a chance that we are skipped by the best talents. 48% even strongly agree.

So, let’s get in shape and work on our employer branding as an industry, or we might end up struggling to keep the people who are the key to our future!

Want to join the discussion? Register for the  UFI Digital Innovation Forum in Birmingham on May 15th 2019, join our LinkedIN group  UFI Digital Innovation, and follow  @UFIDigital on twitter.