Top 10 Highlights of CWIC 2019

Blog published by CW (Cambridge Wireless)

Yesterday, 400 technologists dedicated to the digitisation of industry gathered at the Wellcome Genome Campus Conference Centre to discuss the state of technology adoption in vertical markets and what the engineering community could do to further support its roll-out.

With a mammoth 50 speakers representing six sectors, accompanied by two plenaries, a keynote address and a debate, it’s hard to pick out the highlights of this day, but if we were to try….

1. Mansoor Hanif, CTO of Ofcom, made ripples throughout the day with the news in his opening keynote that Ofcom are preparing within weeks to make an announcement on affordable licenses for 3.8-4.2GHz, with minimal administrative costs, that will enable private industry to innovate with spectrum at a local level to achieve their digital goals.

“Our proposal is to offer this up for local licencing at a price of around £80 (which is an administrative fee) for 10MHz – local licences can be as small as 50m2”

2. The Wellcome Genome Campus Conference Centre is an exceptional venue with a circular exhibition zone that makes for regular chance encounters. You can’t do a lap of the venue without bumping into someone you want to stop and have a chat with! You may be late for all of the track sessions, but delegates leave the end of the day with a pocketful of new business opportunities to pursue.

This was overall an excellent event, well organised and enjoyable. The venue is fabulous and the range and quality of attendees first class - this year there were more people outside the traditional telecoms 'bubble' which was a great step forward.

Early feedback from a CWIC 2019 delegate

3. Coopetition is the new modus operandum of business and the telecommunications sector is embracing it. With the mobile phone market plateauing, industry is the new frontier for telco business growth and the operators recognise that collaboration, customisation and high quality service will be the key to success in these markets. Nik Willetts, President & CEO of the TM Forum, spoke eloquently on this topic in his opening gambit for the “Evolving Enterprise Journey” track and the theme echoed throughout the day.

4. The surprise of the day for many delegates was the Aston Martin Red Bull Formula 1 vehicle parked outside the entrance of the venue, courtesy of sponsor Kx. This company develops the world’s fastest time series database and have worked alongside Red Bull to analyse sensor data and help improve their aerodynamic testing and high performance analytics.

5. A stand-out stat from the Utilities track highlighted the barriers to digitisation. The water market retires and replaces only 10% of its infrastructure each decade. To do a top-down digital overhaul of this infrastructure with a cohesive digital architecture would be extremely expensive and disruptive; but to transform the entire system from the bottom-up into a fully-enabled digital platform could take a century. Meanwhile, as a comparison point, iPhone’s are supported for less than a decade. It's clearly a long and complicated road ahead and the technology community needs to collaborate to enable solutions that integrate and work together as much as working for enterprise customers.

6. CW fully appreciated the lunchtime joke by Kevin Calder, Partner and Head of Technology & Life Sciences at Mills & Reeve. In reference to his organisation’s extensive contact network and office locations, he quipped:

“5G is not the only network with great connectivity and geographical coverage”

We’ll be using that one in the future – thanks, Kevin!

7. We were delighted to host three students at the CWIC 2019: Digitising Industry. These students were winners of UKESF’s RF Competition and their posters were exhibited on the showfloor while all the students participated in a prizegiving over lunch. CW is working with UKESF to raise awareness of the value of student placements among its members – to find out more about how you can work with the best undergraduate engineering talent, read this blog.

8. ghd’s showcase of the latest hair styling devices attracted delegates throughout the day – a product which, on the surface, would not have been top of the shopping list for half of the delegates at the event. However, when seen in the light of their afternoon session on using digital technologies to transform retail into a full-on media experience, accompanied by the experienced hand of Julian Burnett (IBM) and the entrepreneurial Mainda Kiwelu (Metail), they succeeded in bringing the future of technology in the retail sector to life.

9. And elsewhere on the exhibition floor, congratulations were due to IC Resources, who celebrated their 20th birthday at the event with generous portions of cake throughout the day for everyone! This was an innovative method of ensuring regular traffic to a stand throughout the course of a long day of talks – as was the popular new addition to CWIC: Exhibition Bingo! Thanks go to all exhibitors who kindly contributed prizes.

CWIC 2019 Exhibition Bingo

10. Roland Schatz’s closing keynote provided an inspirational end to the day with a call to action for delegates to leverage their businesses for sustainable growth and social goals. With acknowledgement that the technology community is underplaying its contribution to society, that what we are doing could be more “wise” than “smart”, he shared the news that Cambridge & Oxford were to be one of the 25+5 SDG Cities Leadership Platform which connects selected cities with substantial investments for SDG Realisation. CW is proud to be partnering with the UN on 25+5 SDG Cities and will be linking our technology community into their programme. Contact us to get involved!

Thank you to everyone who helped make the day a success, in particular to our sponsors – without the likes of our Platinum Sponsor, Magna International, the event wouldn’t be able to happen. To see more details on the day including the full speaker and sponsor line-up, check out the event pages here.

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