Behind the scenes – Unveiling the Beginnings of FWIC. By Peter Whale, Chair of the FWIC Agenda Committee
The first of a series of blog posts taking a behind-the-scenes look at how we begin planning the CW Future of Wireless International Conference (FWIC). In future posts we’ll be revealing the theme of next year’s conference, and raising some of the key questions and issues we hope and expect the 2015 conference will be able to explore.
Now when I say “plan”, I’m talking about the unifying theme and narrative, the format of how we spend the two days, the details of each speaker slot or forum session, and all the work to identify, recruit and brief over forty high-calibre industry speakers and session chairs. This is the work that the agenda planning committee undertakes, and of which I have had the pleasure of leading for a number of years now.
When I said “plan” what I didn’t mean to say is the significant Event Management project needed to host and run a major two day international conference. This project is ably managed by the CW team, and covers so many “behind the scenes” factors that if I listed them all they would easily blow my word limit on this post!
So now we are clear that we are talking about the conference agenda and speakers, let me kick-off by describing how we come up with a theme, title and narrative. This is really important to do well and get right, as it frames all the other decisions we make about speaker, forum and debating topics, and the speakers that we invite.
Planning for the 2015 Future of Wireless conference, started almost as soon as the 2014 conference finished. We gather all of the feedback – written and verbal, formal and informal, and undertake a review of what worked and what didn’t, any lessons to learn, and any patterns in the feedback on future themes and topics of interest. We have this conversation within the new agenda team – normally made up of a combination of SIG Champions who have put together a Future of Wireless conference before, and a new SIG Champion or two, who critically can ensure we continue to have fresh perspectives. The team comprises myself, typically three other SIG champions (this year John Haine from u-blox, Simon Fletcher from NEC Telecom Modus and Nick Hunn from WiFore), and key members of the CW team involved in delivering the event (Soraya, Lisa Ellis and Clare Bannister).
The team meet just once face-to-face over lunch in late August/early September, to review all of the feedback, and to discuss what the theme should be for the next conference. Because we have people on the team whose day job puts them at the front and the centre of how the future of wireless is developing and their businesses are in turn driving that evolution (or revolution!), we always have a lively lunchtime conversation. Sometimes these conversations can seem rather diverse and open-ended. However the approach, which works well, is to allow sufficient time for themes to be distilled from this conversation that will seem edgy and relevant when discussed in detail at the conference a year later. Each year so far, the idea for the next conference has been birthed at such a gathering, and the idea is matured and sharpened up further as a narrative is developed subsequently based on the key idea.
After this first meeting, the team meet via a Skype call most weeks over a roughly six month period. So far, we have been labouring to firm up the title of the conference, finalise the overall narrative, and are now working to flesh out the detailed agenda and identify our ideal companies and people that we would like to invite to speak.
Coming up next in this series – how we came up with the title and overall theme of next year’s conference!
About The Author
Peter Whale is Chair of the FWIC Agenda Committee, a board member of Cambridge Wireless and Co-Champion of the Future Devices SIG.
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