Whilst I am lucky to be chairman for the Subex User Conference, which will be held in Prague this week, there are some disadvantages to being on stage. Multiple streams will run in parallel, and I will miss out on the opportunity to sneak from room to room, trying to learn as much as I can, from as many speakers as possible.
Past experience means I expect the quality of the presentations to be very high, and the agenda includes a mix of hot topics that most of us would like to know more about. For example, Paul Fedarb of BT will talk about future challenges in partner settlement at the same time as Nithin Gangadharan of Subex will run a workshop on deep packet inspection. Seyed Alborz Alavi of MCCI will share his experience of RA managed services whilst another room hosts a group discussion about efficiently spending network capex. And a presentation about implementing fraud management by Petros Pantzaris, Information Security Officer for Cyta, will clash with a talk about the evolution of payments from Martin Bedford of Subex.
However, I should not complain. It is rare to be spoiled for choice in this way. The agenda for the second day has four parallel streams on revenue analytics, fraud management, partner settlement and network analytics. They all contain good material. The only way to enjoy it all would be to extend the duration of the event by another three days! (But now I think about it, I would have no objection to spending longer in the beautiful Czech capital.)
The keynote presentations on the first day will really wow the audience. Everybody will be in the room when Simon Torrance, advisor to Analysys Mason, talks about digital transformation between now and the year 2020, and when Commsrisk regular Mike Willet shares his views on challenges and opportunities in risk management.
I know the biggest challenge for me will be finding time for the question and answer sessions that will follow those keynote sessions. In a big room it is hard to pass around microphones so everybody in the audience has a fair chance to ask questions. Last year we solved that problem by allowing the audience to submit questions using an app on their smartphones. The technology worked perfectly, and though the audience had never used it before, they liked it so much that we always received more questions than there was time to answer. The image above shows me on stage with one of last year’s keynote speakers, Michael Rimkus of T-Mobile US. The yellow boxes projected on the big screens gives some idea of how questions were collated and presented to speakers; often the biggest challenge was that the screens kept scrolling as new questions were added in real-time! Many of last year’s attendees will be coming to Prague, so I expect even more interaction this year.
Again, I should not complain. I would rather deal with the headache of too much audience participation than too little. And it is exciting to see audiences that really engage with the speakers. The result is a kind of virtuous circle, as speakers get fired up when they see the audience has a passionate interest in the subject of the presentation. In turn, confident speakers encourage an enthusiastic response from the audience. Recreating that dynamic is my top priority for the Subex User Conference. I hope and expect it will be an event to remember.