Looking back at the hot conference topics in 2011

13 12 2011

At the start of the year, we made some predictions about the topics that were likely to dominate the conference landscape in 2011 and, as is now traditional, we want to take a moment to reflect on the year. You may remember that in our original post(hyperlink) we thought the hot topics in 2011 would be:

Many of our suggestions were right on the money – a number of these topics have been growing for years now and are almost sure to continue to be important going forward. However, we also missed a few runaway trends (like Big Data), so want to spend the next few posts looking back, analysing the hot topics and providing insight on the conference industry in 2011.

We’ll also be making our predictions for 2012 in the next few weeks, so don’t forget to check back regularly!





IBC Congress – business stream session wrap-up

13 09 2011

I’m pleased to say that our session at IBC last week was a great success with the room at near full capacity and more questions from the floor than we had time for – always a good sign!

Our Co-Founder, Giles Fraser, set the scene by introducing the speakers and talking briefly about the increasing use of social media by content brands, followed by Claire Tavernier from Fremantle who gave a great opening presentation which included her five rules for integrating social media into television.

This was followed by the panel discussion which delved into what each of the panellists were doing with their companies and looking at issues such as risk, investment, control and what the future holds.

A recap of the key points of the session are covered concisely by Giles Fraser in this short video.

Thanks to all my speakers and all that attended – hope to see you next year!





IBC Congress 2011

5 09 2011

I have the privilege again this year of producing a session for the business stream at the IBC Conference in Amsterdam this week.

It takes place on the Thursday the 8th of September from 13.30 – 15.00 and is titled: Extending the Value of Branded Content Through Social Media and Online Engagement.  It will be in room E102.

We have a great session lined up today, starting with Chairman Giles Fraser, Co-Founder of Brands2Life who will be setting the scene and highlighting relevant trends, followed by Claire Tavernier from Fremantle Media who will be talking about using social media to drive audiences and engagement. Rounding out the session will be what we hope to be a very spirited panel discussion with our guest panellists: Danny McCubbin of JamieOliver.com, Claire Tavernier of Fremantle, Jurian Van Der Meer of Endemol and Steve Plunkett of RedBee Media about. In addition to outlining their thoughts/experiences on how social media and online engagement can extend brand value, the panel will be tackling questions such as:

  • What are the risks to brands – both content and parent brand?
  • How much should you invest in social media/online engagement and when can you expect payback? Is there payback?
  • What mistakes have been made?
  • How do you maintain your brand voice and values through digital channels
  • Dangers or risks of social media and giving your audience a voice
  • The difference between using existing social media venues and building your own

If you’ll be at IBC this week, please stop by and participate in what we are confident will be a great session!





Inaugural conferences – should you speak?

22 04 2011

In the current conference landscape there are a lot of new events emerging, catering to specific niches and addressing the latest topics and trends. Some are extensions of existing events (like D’s Dive into Mobile) and others are entirely new events.

However, not all of these events are of the same quality and it can be hard to decide which invitations for your CEO you accept, which you repurpose for one of your VPs or Directors and which you politely decline. Even when the organiser has successfully run a ‘rock star’ event for a number of years you can’t guarantee that your CEO will be amongst his peers on a highly visible platform.

We always recommend erring on the side of caution for inaugural events. Even if you’re hoping to get your speakers out to ‘cool’ and upcoming events, you need to be certain that the right speaker takes the stage. If the organiser asks for your CEO for their inaugural event but can’t name any confirmed speakers, give you proof points about who’ll show up and which media will cover the event, then the alarm bells should be ringing.

All conference producers have ‘pressing deadlines’ – brochures need to be printed, agendas finalized and so forth, but the truth is you can usually wait until the event fleshes out a little more before confirming your speaker. Try giving the organiser some time to confirm other senior speakers and take some time to check for any buzz around the event. If the organiser has only managed to name a few directors and managers as confirmed speakers politely decline to speak this year, but signal your interest for next year’s event (when there’ll be ample proof points for you to pore over).

Of course, there’ll always be those events that are simply guaranteed to succeed due to the strength of the organisers brand and those will be no brainers. But where there’s doubt, don’t be afraid to substitute a lower level speaker in the inaugural year to scope out the event… You can always send your CEO to steal the show next year.

Finally, where these opportunities are not clear-cut a trusted third party speaker bureau consultancy will be able to help evaluate events and invitations and recommend the best course of action.





Hot conference topics and themes for 2011: healthcare

4 03 2011

Healthcare is another topic which will continue to grow and see success throughout 2011 as many trials using healthcare IT and telehealth mature and technology improves. This is also likely to be driven by new models of healthcare, with smart connected devices monitoring our health, providing diagnoses and healthcare as a game (such as mobile apps like cardiotrainer which challenge your friends to burn as many calories as you).

Alongside the established healthcare IT and telehealth events like WoHIT and Wonca, these topics will also find their way into cloud and telecoms events at an increasing rate as the prevalence and utility of connected devices and new ways of gathering and storing health data develop. This convergence has already led to events like the Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit and is likely to see further growth.
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Hot conference topics and themes for 2011: content

1 03 2011

Thanks to many of the innovations we’ve already covered, content and the way we access, monetise and distribute it has also become increasingly important beyond traditional broadcasters, developers and publishers.

While many of these topics have been key fixtures on agendas for a number of years now, increasing awareness and rapid industry change is making this issue more important. Social media as a driver of user generated content, HD content, viral videos, IPTV and so on have caused a huge shift in the way we access content and businesses are keen to catch up. There are events like the Content Delivery Summit devoted to each of these areas and many broad media events such as the Media 360 covering technical issues of distribution alongside the more creative challenge of creating engaging content in the form of videos, games, websites and so forth.

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Where highly technical questions of how to stream content at higher quality and faster than your competitors has been a staple for a long time, questions of how to build communities around your content and ensure that your content has appeal beyond just the TV screen are now becoming a greater focus of many conferences.

Be prepared for content to really be king in 2011.





Hot conference topics and themes for 2011: cloud computing

21 02 2011

Cloud computing has continued to grow and gain mainstream acceptance and this is likely to accelerate through 2011; the maturation of services and new models and applications should cement cloud computing at the forefront of many conference agendas.

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Whereas cloud computing has thus far largely been the subject of specialist events like the Business Cloud Summit and those targeted squarely at the CTO, we are likely to see coverage at a wider range of events going forward. The majority of this will probably take place via end-user testimony as more companies in a wider range of industries adopt cloud technologies and models for a wider range of processes. For example, we’ve already seen cloud models for RFID (the infrastructure is loaned and managed via a cloud portal, reducing initial outlay and overheads) and every day new applications are being dreamt up.

Alongside the conferences discussing the advantages of cloud computing for business and enterprise will be those discussing the consumerisation of cloud technology, through video, gaming and content delivery like the CDN World Forum. As the cloud begins to play a larger role in our lives both at work and at play it can’t help but seep onto more and more agendas across the board.





Hot conference topics and themes for 2011: social media

17 02 2011

Social Media will continue to be important in the conference landscape as our lives become more connected; TVs now even let you tell your friends what you’re watching. Communities are continuing to grow around all aspects of our connected lives and monetising and engaging with these audiences is becoming increasingly important to marketers and advertisers alike.

While there are a lot of established pure play social media events, it is likely that more will surface and that more and more traditional business focused events will incorporate social media streams looking at how to leverage social media beyond the marketing department. Gamification, crowd sourcing, merging and blurring work and social lives and collaboration as a driver of innovation, business and efficiency will all find their way onto more conference agendas.

Further to this, although many events already utilise social tools (such as a Facebook page or a LinkedIn events page, live Twitter walls and blogs), their use should increase as delegates and speakers look to extend their influence beyond the stage and the networking breaks. Some conferences already have great communities built around their content (think TED) and many more are starting to follow in their footsteps.





Hot conference topics and themes for 2011: apps

14 02 2011

Apps are new to our list and would previously have been covered by the ‘mobile’ category. However, towards the end of 2010 we saw more devices able to run apps and myriad new app stores opening across devices, operators and the web (Samsung and Amazon to name but two).

The way we’re accessing information, and the web, is changing and this should cement apps on conference agendas. The rapid growth of apps saw the first wave of app-focused conferences appear towards the end of 2010 and we expect this to continue; specialist conferences for enterprise apps are likely, as are those focusing on designing, building and monetizing applications and debating which application ecosystems are best.

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If Wired was right and The Web Is Dead, apps could well become our default method for accessing information and services, making this a huge growth area in the conference landscape.





Hot conference topics and themes for 2011: mobile devices

11 02 2011

This is an expansion of the mobile theme; with markets continuing to mature and mobile devices growing in affect across markets we expect them to feature more heavily on conference agendas. This will be particularly buoyed by the maturation of the tablet market, which is likely to feature more heavily on mobile event agendas and perhaps spawn tablet specific events.
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Events in the telecoms sector such as the Mobile World Congress and Open Mobile Summit alongside the consumer electronic shows like IFA and CES will continue to be the main arena for mobile device discussions. However, mobile devices will also become an increasing focus at media and advertising events, with delegates wanting to know how to advertise on these platforms, reach new audiences and stay ahead of the curve. The proliferation of devices is also likely to inspire design and interface debate around how to keep user experience the same across devices and allow consumers to move freely between screens and across platforms.