By Claire Swedberg
Feb. 21, 2012—Conference attendees can now automatically send business-related links to those to whom they are connected via their LinkedIn
accounts, using a system provided by Excelerated Applications Ltd.
(Excelerated Apps). The solution, known as UpD8r (pronounced updater
) Business, enabled LinkedIn members attending the UK and Ireland SAP User Group
's 2011 conference
to share information with their LinkedIn connections regarding their movements and the seminars they attended at the event.
The system works similarly to the other RFID
-based applications that operate with Facebook
and other social-network services used by event organizers to connect conference visitors to their Facebook friends or Twitter
followers (see RFID Helps Make Friends for Israeli Teens
, RFID Helps Call of Duty Video Game Come Alive
and Vail Resorts Links RFID With Social Media
). UpD8r, however, is designed for businesspeople, enabling them to utilize LinkedIn as their social network, to share what they are doing. Excelerated Apps is a British company that provides application solutions related to social media.
At this year's UK and Ireland SAP User Group conference, an individual who attended a particular session could tap an RFID ID badge near an In station, to inform their LinkedIn connections.
The UK and Ireland SAP User Group's 2011 conference provided the service to 160 of its 400 attendees who were also LinkedIn members and wished to share data regarding their time at the conference with others in their network. The strategy was to generate publicity about the conference, as well as the speakers and exhibitors from that event, by enabling attendees to share information with their LinkedIn connections. However, notes Richard Smith, Excelerated Apps' director, individuals would be most likely to share information about the conference with other LinkedIn members if the system were easy to use. Therefore, he says, NFC technology is employed to create an automatic link between a location or event and the LinkedIn member, by simply tapping a tag against a reader.
During the UK & Ireland SAP User Group trial, each conference-goer was invited to try the Upd8r Business system at no charge. Each attendee agreeing to participate provided his or her LinkedIn account name and user password, then received a lanyard with a badge, attached to which was a passive 13.56 MHz RFID tag. The tag, provided by British RFID company CoreRFID, is manufactured with an NXP Semiconductors Ultralight Mifare chip.
A half-dozen "In" stations, each with an RFID reader developed and manufactured by Excelerated Apps, had been installed at locations where presentations or sessions were being held. An individual attending a particular session could tap his or her badge near an In station, which would then read that person's badge ID and forward that information to the Excelerated Apps software on the hosted server, via a cabled connection. The software retrieved the LinkedIn user account and password associated with that individual's badge ID, and then transmitted data about the session or presentation to his or her LinkedIn account. For example, the attendee's LinkedIn page could indicate that he or she was "visiting the exhibitors in the King Suite at the UK and Ireland SAP User Group Conference"—and, in some cases, include a link to the specific exhibitor or speaker.
Throughout the three-day conference, the reader
stations were repeatedly moved and linked to new content, in order to provide coverage for a variety of events and exhibitors. Ultimately, the event managers report, with 598 pieces of content shared during that span of time, a network of 32,131 LinkedIn users were exposed to the conference—approximately 60 times the number of those exposed the year prior, Smith says. Event coordinators did not respond to requests for comment.
The Upd8r Business solution also enables conference attendees to share pictures or comments on their Twitter or Facebook accounts, using either an RFID
-enabled badge, a wristband or a piece of branded merchandise specific to an event.
Richard Smith, Excelerated Apps' director
"Already," Smith states, "there are Facebook solutions out there, but we believe we're the first LinkedIn solution." The company has about six more pilots scheduled between now and late April, he says, using the LinkedIn solution.
It may not be possible to calculate a return on investment
(ROI) for the solution, Smith notes, because if the LinkedIn content were to inspire a user to seek additional information on the UK and Ireland SAP User Group's Web site, for example, it would be difficult to trace that connection. The group has agreed to use the technology again at this year's conference, Smith says, noting that presenters at the 2011 event's breakout sessions had requested their own In stations for future presentations. "One thing we have found is that people like to share when they are improving themselves," he says. By indicating that they are attending a presentation or a conference, he explains, attendees can build an image of someone who is gaining experience and knowledge—thus, they tend to use the readers often, once they have the badges in-hand.
According to Smith, the conference would have had more participants in the program, but because the opportunity was only presented to those arriving to register onsite, many could not remember their LinkedIn accounts and passwords, and were thus unable to take part. In the future, he says, the group may also offer the service to attendees preregistering online.