Our world is a connected one. A world where we increasingly have the power to reach anyone else, any time, wherever they may be, through voice, text, photos or videos. A whole new world of communication opening up new potential for working together to overcome problems and find solutions, facilitating innovation and collaboration.
That collaboration is at the very heart of ITU Telecom World. For over four decades, it has been bringing together the global ICT community to share ideas, exhibit new technologies and solutions, debate key trends and network across governments, industry and nations. As the ITU’s flagship event, its unique selling point has always been its ability to put ministers, regulators, evenheads of state and government, into direct contact with CEOs and industry leaders from across the ICT ecosystem and around the world. ITU’s status as the leading UN agency for ICT issues, and the event’s focus on structured and unstructured networking events, spaces and tools, has ensured its success.
Where else, after all, could you join in a debate in one single location with the Director of Global Innovation at UNICEF, the Head of Startup Europe in the European Commission, the COO of RwandaOnline Platorm, the Russian ICT Minister and the head of a Singaporean investment firm?
Or have morning coffee with a Korean startup, lunch with ministers from three Smart Africa countries and dinner with a major Chinese operator?
As John Davies, former World Ahead VP for Intel and long-standing ITU Telecom World participant, puts it: “If you look at the number of people here, if I were to get on a plane to try and meet the people I meet here this week, it would take me a year of flying. They are all here, the decision-makers, sharing best practices.”
ITU Telecom World 2016, taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, this November, will continue to facilitate important connections across public and private sectors, nations, individuals and ideas. But it will also focus concretely on developing those connections into meaningful collaboration – on how we can work together to make positive change happen faster, to make the world better, sooner.
The Forum debates will explore collaboration in new technological developments, such as 5G and the Internet of Things, which are powering solutions from the connected car to smart cities, ehealth or digital financial services. All of these solutions have the potential to change our lives dramatically for the better; to drive industry growth and socio- economic development. But none of them can happen without collaboration. Regulators, businesses and government ministries need to work together across vertical sectors – it’s not just about ICT or finance, for example, but a combination of the two very different cultures.
Standardization, interoperability, and security call for new partnerships, new approaches and new ways of thinking to develop and take to scale new solutions. In a digital ecosystem made up of ever more stakeholders, from governments driving policy and regulation to established, major ICT companies, disruptive new OTT players and innovative SMEs, working together is the only way to meet these challenges.
Who might work with whom in which sector, why and to what end? Will it be possible to move beyond long-established mindsets and industry cultures, to embrace disruptive technologies and unorthodox new partners? The stakes are high, the outcomes uncertain. Whether collaboration will trump competition, or work in parallel with it, will be the subject of much debate.
What is sure is that coming together at ITU Telecom World, making connections, communicating, sharing opinions, experiences and ideas, is an important first step to working to find solutions together – to making that connected world a collaborative one.