So when things are done well, I really appreciate it, and it's often the little things that end up making a very big difference. Anyway rant over, all the aforementioned little touches contributed towards making me feel very well catered for, so I just wanted to thank etcvenues and Claire Taylor, the event organiser, for their efforts and attention to detail - they didn’t go unnoticed.
With regards to the format, talks and panel sessions, they were spread over two days and broken into four different themes; financial tech, contextual tech, immersive tech (AR/VR), and emerging tech. The first day was a multitrack format, so attendees could mix-and-match, as I did, or pick a track and stick to it throughout the day.
The first day of the Contextual Tech B2C track included the importance of customer experience and context in relation to mobile-first, multitouch-point interaction. Another panel covered customer engagement strategies, and data utilisation optimisation methodologies to fulfil customer needs in real-time, location-based augmented reality, privacy and security, data acquisition, consent, and protection. All very important topics, particular in light of the European Commission's plan to strengthen, and unify data protection for individuals within the European Union (EU) under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). You can read what I really think about it in my opinion piece, that I wrote for The Times Legal Supplement.
The first day of the Emerging Tech Showcase included talks by Jonny Voon about what’s next for IoT, Philip Steele about smart home tech from vision to commercial reality, Michelle Flajsner about people-centric approaches to IoT, and a keynote by Charles Slicer-Watkinson about innovation for digital transformation.
Day two switched to a single track format devoted exclusively to emerging Technology. The second day of the Emerging Tech Showcase included talks by Seffan Sorrell about context-driven AI, and Paul Croft about improving people’s lives with 3D printing. The fireside chat with Luke Robert Mason about his prosthetic prototype was, however, unfortunately cancelled. Highlights of the second day for me were Lawrence Lundy’s talk about Blockchain-enabled convergence, Web 3.0, and the implications of fully autonomous machines. I also very much enjoyed Augustin Marty’s talk about the challenges of computer vision from a developer’s point of view.
Although I felt TechExpo would have benefitted from the addition of a few extra warm bodies in attendance, it wan't a big deal and the venue certainly didn't feel empty. Another minor criticism was that there wasn't an after-party. These days, particularly if an event takes place over multiple days, one generally expects the organisers to lay on a post-event networking opportunity. I'm sure most people would have welcomed the opportunity to continue conversations, and mingle in an informal setting away from the conference venue. An open bar isn't obligatory, because people who attend events such as this aren't there for the free alcohol. Their primary motivation is knowledge acquisition, and rapport building.
It was obvious that Claire Taylor, her assistant Beth Betts, and the rest of the team had invested a great deal of time, thought, and effort in planning and running the event. I therefore hope it was financially worth their while, because it would be a great shame if this event didn't take place again next year, and I have no reason to assume it won't. We need more of these less frantic and more personalised events, because as much as I'm a big fan of crazy and hectic, there are just occasions when I want to exchange knowledge and ideas with like-minded professionals in a calm, casual, relaxed, and informal setting.
Finally a quick shout out to Anita Yustisia of Octagon Studio for the Dinosaur 4D+, Animal 4D+ Augmented Reality playing cards!