MWC16 Starts at MWC15: A 12-Month Research Cycle
While officially our research programme for MWC starts around April-May, in practice it never really ends. This year during MWC15, for example, the GSMA Content Team – the people behind the conference programme you see in Hall 4 at Fira Gran Via – held quite a few meetings with companies interested in speaking at MWC16.
Those were mostly impromptu meetings with people we ran into or were introduced to on-site. Most of them didn’t last longer than 5 minutes, with a follow up meeting in the diary for when we were back in London. What’s important here is getting the raw reactions from the show floor as things happen. We’re not looking for ready-made pitches, but instant reaction to industry trends and how they affect the thinking and decision making going forward.
We also seek live feedback from our speakers and moderators on how we can improve next year. Be it regarding format and the running of the sessions; or how a certain topic is covered and presented.
Then we reconvene back in London and spend a couple of months taking stock on what’s just happened – no stone is left unturned! We hold our standards very high, it’s a complex industry and our attendees know their stuff, so we can’t rely on clichés or last year’s thinking.
Then we go into the more formal research period, kicking off around April-May where we start drafting the agenda and testing a few new concepts. By this time the Call For Papers is already running and we also have a number of structured research meetings with industry leaders in our offices. We strive to get as wide a representation as possible in those meetings; from start-ups to big MNO’s; from internet players to networking equipment vendors. All in all, we tend to meet with about 60 companies over the summer.
During this time we also engage with GSMA industry experts for their insights. While our editorial line is completely independent, we try to leverage the great work our colleagues do within the industry by picking their brains and occasionally asking for referrals and introductions.
Somewhere between September and October we have a pretty good idea of what the conference will look like and we submit it for final executive approval. Once we get the green light, it goes on the web and we start inviting speakers. This also coincides with the closing dates of the Call For Papers, which is an invaluable source of inspiration with over 1,300 submissions annually.
By November we have most speakers confirmed and we aim at starting the New Year with just minor tweaks and final confirmations to complete. Somewhere around late-January to mid-February we send formal intros and schedule moderator briefing calls in order to give all speakers a chance to engage and touch base before the show.
All through this process – in fact all the way until stage time – our team is the only point of contact for speakers, moderators and their teams (including speechwriters, EA’s, PR people, speaker bureaus, etc.). This ensures a superior speaker experience because the same person who wrote the hypothesis of that session back in the summer is the one who will be giving the final briefing before each speaker takes the stage. Delivering top quality is a real challenge given the sheer scale of this show and speakers appreciate having one point of contact throughout their experience.
Finally, by the time MWC16 wraps up on Thursday afternoon our team will have already met with a number of people to discuss MWC17…and it all begins again.