Poken at Africa Development Week 2016: Facilitating Meaningful Engagement Across Cultural Lines

Naomi Amoah

Poken SurpriseWe live in a world where business, and indeed life is conducted in an increasingly multi-cultural arena. This certainly adds to the excitement and vibrancy of the events industry, though it also presents certain challenges. In April, Poken partnered with The United Nations to drive engagement at Africa Development Week 2016. Over one thousand attendees from almost 54 different countries and almost as many language groups, joined together to discuss Africa’s future and growth. Some of the most heated discussions, outside of the politics, revolved around who had the best national dish, and which football team was the “one to watch”. We share the take-away on how Poken helped overcome some of the challenges faced by such a diverse event, and enhanced the experience for the attendees and organizers alike.


I’m what you call technologically challenged, but even I can use this…

It was with slight amusement that I watched an exchange between two delegates; both of whom had just arrived to the event and both carrying only out-of-date business cards. As they approached the Poken support booth in their quest for a pen to correct the faults, I was able to inform them that we have this covered. They entered their registration details into our tablets, took a photo for their Poken profile, were given their Poken devices and shown how it worked- all within a couple of minutes. Suddenly they were able to exchange contact details at the touch of a Poken, igniting engagement in a second, and rendering the networking process all the more efficient, relaxing to navigate and fun. After five minutes, our former pen-hunting delegates were inviting others to their party, eagerly demonstrating how it worked and encouraging their peers to get involved.


ADW Pokening 3With the attendees equipped with the same device, it created an immediate sense of collaboration and common ground. It enhanced face-to-face interactions by making them fun, and efficient, and the buzz the NFC technology created, broke the ice of those first introductions.

In total the event saw the attendees collect a total 4251 digital files and make 43,467 Poken interactions, a number which represents thousands of conversations, new contacts made, and ongoing interaction even after the conference ended.


Poken allows for universal engagement

Poken has multilingual capabilities. When attendees of the Africa Development Week logged in to the Poken platform (their own personalised event web portal), they were presented with a host of event materials, and a collection of the contacts they had made. The platform is available in 13 languages, allowing the attendees to engage with the event material in their own language. Pre-to-post-event it encourages attendees to view the schedule, speakers, attendees, and documentation for the event from wherever they are. And better-informed attendees are more engaged attendees.


Keeping the chat flowing

If the rise and domination of social media has taught us anything, it is that human beings are social by nature, and technology has the ability to facilitate the inherent need to connect and interact. Let’s incorporate this into the event space. The beauty of Poken is that it is a set of tools that bring together the physical and digital space with digital tools and software, and further more encourages the relationships to continue long after the event is over. While the Poken interactive USB device facilitates networking on the floor, the Poken platform encourages attendees to continue their conversations on social media as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook post event- once again tapping into the global and social nature of people in the event space.


ADW Pokening1It was a privilege to be part of re-invigorating the networking process at Africa Development Week 2016. Watching how easily people could connect and interact in spite of language and cultural barriers made for a great event experience.








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