Earlier this month I attended the IoT Tech Expo (IoTTE) in Berlin, which promotes itself as being the largest IoT event in Europe. As a recruiter, it’s useful for me to visit these types of events as I can combine networking with building my knowledge in my specialist market. After attending several similar events in 2017 alone I wanted to share some of the thoughts I had throughout the IoTTE …

  • I couldn’t help but compare this to Mobile World Congress (MWC) which takes places every year in Barcelona. On my first visit there I found the sheer scale of it quite overwhelming, but soon got used to navigating between the 10 football-pitch sized halls! The IoTTE was around the size of one of these halls and had much plainer exhibitions, and although my feet thanked me for this I did miss the sheer extravagance and showmanship that you see from businesses at MWC.
  • Why are there so few women speaking on the panels and in keynotes? I know this topic comes up a lot in the tech world, and supposedly businesses are doing a lot to recruit more women in technology, but the IoTTE felt a bit archaic in their choices. There were 80+ separate panels and speeches over two full days and only 9 women speaking in/moderating them. The most exciting of all the talks, in my opinion, was the panel on ‘Monetisation – Unlocking the Revenue Potential’ and that was largely down to the insight shared from Christine Billaud, Director of Business Technology for Connected Solutions at Volvo. She spoke about Volvo’s successful partnerships with Trimble and Topcon, and what a value add this had been to their customers.
  • There was a lack of audience engagement. I noticed a number of people sitting in on the discussions staring listlessly into space, checking their phones, and restlessly moving in their seats before leaving mid-way through, with almost no one asking questions. It took me a little by surprise at first because we were sat in front of industry leaders talking about new topics across IoT, however, I soon realised the reasons for the disengaged audiences. The speakers often delved into deeply technical topics, which makes sense for a Tech Expo, but I found they lacked enthusiasm and often forgot to address wider audiences outside of engineers. The panellists also had a tendency to deliver monologue’s rather than active debate, no doubt a result of seeing questions beforehand and having an eagerness to prove their own expertise.
  • My favourite moment was a moderator blunder. I won’t name names but there was a highly amusing incident where a moderator for one of the panels got mixed up about where someone worked, thinking they were specialising in Elevators rather than Cranes. This person was moderating a number of panels over the two days so the confusion is understandable, however, I appreciated the brief humour and the ability to utilise this anecdote when chatting to people on the stands who had been unable to attend conferences themselves. It was a brilliant ice-breaker.

 

Reading back through these I can see that I’m mostly giving constructive criticism for the next event the IoTTE do which is perhaps a bit bold given I have never organised an international conference attended by 3000+ people before. Nevertheless, it was a useful experience, and I was able to expand my knowledge of the IoT ecosystem greatly in addition to making some good contacts. No doubt I will be at the next one, mixing my networking with looking out to see how influential my critical feedback has been …