Each Year I Spend A little Less Time At BETT

For the best part of a decade the coming of a new year meant only one thing work wise: the BETT trade show for education technology.

It was by far the most significant marketing event in the company’s year and you could be guaranteed to find all of the major players in assistive technologies gathered at the show. It marked an opportunity to catch up with industry colleagues, have meetings with people that you had been meaning to have since last BETT and a chance to gossip and size up the competition. Not only that but you would also be able to find all sorts of exciting gadgets and interesting ideas for making education more engaging and fun.

Or at least it used to be like that. Certainly during the last couple of years of working at iansyst Ltd we were questioning the value of spending such a large slice of our yearly budget on this one show. Building stands and coordinating marketing materials, personnel and the attendant travel and hotels all costs significant amounts of money. It is very difficult to track whether or not the investment in such trade shows is really worthwhile. But the Assistive Technology industry keeps coming back year after year.

This January was the second time that I had attended BETT as a visitor and not as an exhibitor. I had made two short visits the previous January to catch up with former colleagues and has a nose around to see what was new. The relief of not having to man the stand was palpable, I could freely wander around and do my business as I chose.

However this year I spent a total of 2 1/2 hours at the biggest education technology show in the world. In fact I probably spent half an hour too long.

Why is that?

Aside from catching up with colleagues there was very little innovation on show. Yes there were new versions of most of the familiar assistive technology software, yes Microsoft and all the big technology players had flashy stands and Google was notable for the increased presence but there was very little of interest.

Most of my colleagues were too flustered or tired to be able to have a sensible conversation, and finding somewhere comfortable to have that conversation was nigh on impossible. The real innovation is elsewhere, if you want to understand what really ignites interest in young learners and what the really important technology trends are you should not be going to BETT.

Why not check out events that really focus on innovation and engagement in the technologies that will be shaping our lives in the coming decades? Next year I have resolved not to go to BETT and spend the time at more focused events like Learning without Frontiers and the fantastic mobile conference run every November by Tomi Ahonen and Ajit Joakar.

The BETT show like the CES show in America has seen its glory days in years gone by, whilst these shows are still very large they are growing less significant year by year. CES used to be the most important trade show in the electronics world every year, it has been supplanted by Mobile World Congress. Everything is mobile, everything is personal and these old shows don’t reflect that.

Mobile Money It’s not Just Tomi Ahonen Who Says it’s Perfect

Last week I went to a fantastic conference on mobile run by the University of Oxford.

Co-hosts for the day were Ajit Jaokar and Tomi Ahonen.

There were tonnes of great speakers including Peter Paul Koch who runs Quirks Mode – talking about the importance of having good relations with webdevelopers.

Not only did we hear about all sorts of fantastic mobile apps, smart cities of the near future and how we might use white-space spectrum to enable smart devices but one of the recurring themes was how your mobile phone will soon replace your wallet.

Mobile money is not just convenient for you it is potentially very exciting for banks, marketers and all sorts of other entrepreneurial people.  Currently there is a mad dash to see who will own this space with Google Wallet being one of the prime contenders.

Connecting your identity with your wallet and knowing your location will allow companies to accurately target you with personalised offers that really will consign Groupon to the spam bin. Dave Birch went even further to say that beyond Mobile Money identity is the next commodity.

Highlight of the day and was Tomi enthusing about his favourite subject. Here is the video sorry there is only 9 1/2 minutes but that was all i could take in one go on my phone.