Ronny Haraldsvik recently wrote an article on LinkedIn called “You Are Stifling Innovation!” (which you can read here) that complains about the way industry events are typically researched and funded. Kindly, he flags up the GSMA’s events as an exception to the rule, but it underlines the fact that we do things in a way people might be unfamiliar with.
This article aims to explain how we work, why, and how you can get involved.
1) The way the conference agenda is funded.
Unlike commercial events companies we are not remunerated based on the revenues that the conference generates. At all of the GSMA’s events, speaking in the core conference agenda is unrelated to sponsorship, exhibiting or anything else. We are just looking for the right mix of companies with the right messages to help move the industry forward. Those might be huge companies, start-ups, regulators and politicians, representatives from other industries, hackers, celebrities, you name it – whatever works for the topic in hand.
This means that we can focus on thought leadership. Nobody is expecting to ‘get their money’s worth’ from a speaking position in order to sell a product, and we work with speakers and their teams to understand the value they can bring to an audience from their time on stage. If we can get people leaving a conference session surprised, excited – sometimes even worried – about big issues then that’s a real benefit for the audience and can lead to significant impacts on the way they do business.
Please note – at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and in Shanghai there ARE side-events run by the GSMA or by other stakeholders. If the conversations you’re having seem different to the above then you may not be talking to the Content team.
2) The way our agendas are researched.
As a team, we’re always hungry for ideas and inputs and happy to chat with new people/companies. However, each summer we run a formal briefing process where we aim to put the team as a whole in contact with as many companies or organisations as possible, from one man bands to the likes of Google, NEC or Lufthansa. In each case we want to understand what you do, what pressures are shaping your business and the key concerns or opportunities you foresee in the short to medium term. It tends to be a fairly informal process and we can happily talk about how we work, what we look for in our speakers and so on. The reasons for this are twofold:
– Over the course of the summer we will speak to scores of companies like this, so it helps us understand how ‘the mobile industry’ (wherever the boundaries to that now lie) is evolving. Like a pointillist painting, your data points may well help us build up a picture that individual conversations don’t show. That gives us the chance to develop agendas that can reflect, challenge or drive the industry. Even where a topic is painfully familiar, like “IoT”, the approach to the topic may be different because of what we’ve learned across many conversations.
– For an individual company, it’s an opportunity for us to picture how you and your messages might fit into a conference agenda. At that time of the year MWC in Barcelona is usually top of mind for most companies, but we address many more events through the year and something we can’t place in one agenda may fit very well elsewhere or elsewhen.
There’s no guarantee that talking to us will get you on an agenda – we always have many more people wanting to speak than we can fit in – but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Not least if you have ideas or suggestions to bounce off us, it gives us a chance to feed back on that and also share our aims or plans (so far as we can at that stage) on the events coming up. We’ve also had occasions in the past where people have met us, gone on to submit a speaking proposal, and because we know the speaker or company we’ve been able to respond with ‘While we can’t accommodate that, I was really interested in what you said about this – would you like to speak on that topic?”.
What does that mean for you?
Simple. Get in touch with us! Contentteam@gsma.com is the best way. It’s still a bit early at time of writing (late March) to be scheduling summer briefings, but drop us an email – we can take things forward with you to arrange a briefing later on. Otherwise we can help tackle any questions etc now if that’s what you need.