I don’t get to go to too many conferences. Partly, the majority of my work is very delivery focused, partly because it’s hard to get out of the office for extended periods of time. However, for the right conference and the right client, I can just about make it work.
Last week, I went to the Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) at the very lovely Edge Hill University. I was accompanying our senior consultant Rob van Tol, and his counterpart from our partners at KPMG, Sam Sanders, as they presented in front of professionals working in the marketing, communications and technology fields (and sometimes all three) in the higher education sector. The reason I got the chance to go, was that our charismatic client Mike McConnell, was presenting the work we had recently delivered for them – namely, the Digital Vision and Strategy for the University of Aberdeen.
When we, as an agency, get the opportunity to speak side-by-side with our talented clients we jump at the chance. Of course, no one was silly enough to let me do the presenting bit, but what I did do over three days was talk to some of the amazing people who are working in this sector today.
Although I love all of my clients, it is the higher education sector in particular that is drawing my attention at the moment.
Maybe it’s because they’re a sector which has notoriously been slow to catch on to digital, but seeing what some of the attendees are focusing on now; making huge leaps in content delivery, understanding their audiences, embracing and utilising technological change, that makes it all the more impressive. Surely, making education more accessible through digital, and supporting and nurturing the student’s digital experience once they get there, is an idea we can all get behind.
Smaller conferences, such as IWMW – which is about to enter its 20th year – are invaluable for getting to meet personally, sector specific people who are skilled in their fields. It’s a great opportunity to show ideas, collaborate, and even share some of their HEI pain down at the pub.
For us suppliers, it’s really valuable for us to meet other companies in the same space; talk about what we’re working on, think about ways to collaborate, and share some war stories down at the pub.
Of course the cynical amongst you will think – it’s just a sales opportunity – but that’s not the way Precedent have ever worked. We are not a hard sell agency, and we never will be. We just want to understand this, and all of our sectors as well as we can; to stay contemporary and joined up to the needs of our clients and this is what these events do.
If you work in the higher education sector, I can’t support IWMW highly enough and next year I’d encourage you to get on their list early – their 20th year is sure to be a lot of fun.