I like to attend a conference every once in a while. Taking a couple of days off from office and listening to various viewpoints is a good way to get an understanding of what’s happening in an area. Even the not-so-interesting talks are useful; they give one the time to reflect on life and work. Next to long flights, conferences allow me time to think.
I am not much of a networking type of person; meeting others and exchanging business cards does not come naturally to me. That is a side benefit of attending conferences one gets to meet a few people whom ones knows (and some who are known but cannot be immediately identified!)
Over the past 18 months or so, I have attended three conferences. In June 2005, I was at CommunicAsia in Singapore. Then, in March 2006, I attended PC Forum in Carlsbad, though I had to cut short my trip for personal reasons. Later, in June 2006, I went to the Supernova in San Francisco. Most recently, I attended 3GSM in Mumbai.
Conferences are very good for getting an idea of what the key issues and trends are. I like to attend at least one event a year in an area of interest to me. CommunicAsia was mostly around mobiles and broadband, and helped helped me understand what was happening. In PC Forum, I was representing Novatium, which was one of the showcase companies asked to make a presentation.. At Supernova, I was on a panel discussing computing for the next five billion people. At 3GSM, I was a listener.
I like conferences where they have panels which discuss issues in depth. Usually, single speaker presentations end up becoming mostly corporate PR exercises, and have little of substance. However, for panels to work, one needs a very effective moderator one who knows the subject and the participants, and is willing to followup on evasive answers. Most moderators do not tend to do this. As a result, conferences often disappoint from a content perspective. Yet, one does attend conferences because of the opportunity to network.
So it was that I found myself at 3GSM in Mumbai. The focus was on the Indian mobile industry.
Tomorrow: Indian Mobile Industry