eComm 2009 - my Q&A with Lee Dryburgh/Discount Ends Today!

Got two more items to share with you about eComm 2009, which starts next Tuesday in San Francisco.

The most pressing is that today is your last chance to get tickets at a discount. To get the 20% savings - it's worth over $400 - you can register here, and use my code: jonarnoldblog. That's it - as a famous local radio commercial goes... if you miss it, you miss it.

If you're still not sure about eComm, maybe my interview with Lee Dryburgh will help convince you. As you probably know, Lee is the driving force behind the conference - I call him LeeComm - and he's never lacking for an opinion, especially about how badly the telecom sector needs fixing.

We just finished up our Q&A today, so you can now read first hand about why Lee wants to see you there next week. Enjoy...

JA eComm 2009 has been a long time in the making, and is a much-anticipated follow up to eComm's debut last March. You're the heart and soul behind eComm, so let's start with "why". What has driven you to devote so much time and energy to this event?

LD First I'd like to say that I don't mind being called the heart and soul behind it because I've put a tremendous amount of time and effort behind things, without expecting a return. But I do have to say that it would be impossible on my own. Luckily many people have understood the need for such an event; so I've had a lot of community support. Without this it would not be nearly as good as it is.

Turning to your question, I could write a book as to "why". But no doubt you wish for me to be succinct. With that in mind I'd say because there was not an event which focused on both showcasing and accelerating communications innovation. This was plain wrong when there are more opportunities in the telecom/comm space than there ever has been.

The potential to transform and cash in on such a fundamental transformation is immense, and there has not been a forum to help realize that. There is immense opportunity - but you have to be coordinating the right conversations; conversations which span over disciplines and industry boundaries. Watch this space - eComm will be facilitating a lot of discussion over the next year.

JA A lot has changed since the last eComm, and things are only getting harder for telecom operators now. What are their biggest challenges, what are their biggest fears, and how did they get into this mess?

LD I'd not necessarily say things are harder, in fact many things are better for them - the credit crunch has been a silver lining in many ways. The fear is that the march of disintermediation continues, as does the splitting away of the services they offer today from the underlying transport. But there are tremendous opportunities for operators.

The problem they have is determining their future structure and place in the shifting value chain. Their structure and services will not suffice for "tomorrow". The quicker an operator can become involved with the eComm community, the better. Real low-hanging fruit opportunities abound but it will take courage, risk and some vision to change due to deep-rooted inertia.

JA Let's look the other way to where they really need to be thinking. Where do you see their best opportunities, and how will eComm help them address these?

LD This could be the subject of many pages just to give the bullet points, the opportunities are so great. So let me just give a succinct answer again - just fix what is clearly broken today! Telephony is badly broken, to the point that its fundamental paradigms are now out of date; such that the 'A' party not the 'B' party is in control of time and attention demands.

JA You're quite fond of speaking your mind, and to give us a sense of what eComm is about, what are a couple of myths/misconceptions/sacred cows that will be taken to task there?

LD That is a whole can of worms I'd rather not open, at least right now. I'll win no friends because I'm disappointed with a lot of the "Internet communications" community for lacking reality and often lacking to grasp basics when it comes to the global telecommunications market - from regulation to infrastructure.

And yet I completely love the innovation that they drive. On the other hand, I appreciate the wealth, reach and connectedness that the global telecoms market creates. But their rate of innovation over the past 15 years, aside from hugely successful developments in cellular connectivity, has been diabolical. The two camps need to be married up properly and this is where the difficulty lies. It is one area where eComm is trying to overcome obstacles.

JA What kind of a community do you expect will gather at eComm, and what expectations should attendees have, especially if this is their first eComm?

LD Expect an informal atmosphere and a tremendous collection of doers, thinkers, visionaries, influencers and executives. Expect high energy, cut to the chase content and a sense of collective empowerment. I'd also expect that most will be able to detect opportunities "in the air".

JA To help those who are new to eComm better understand what makes it worthwhile coming, please explain a bit about why and how it's different from other conferences in the communications sector.

LD Different events exist for different purposes. Unfortunately all the other telecom events bore the life out of me. They really serve no other purpose than business card exchange and box shifting. It's needed though. But they are industry talking to the industry type events, so they more often than not hear their own echo rather than reality and real opportunities.

I'd like to make one clear distinction. The normal, and the most profitable way of doing events is to reach out to potential sponsors and let them collectively set the agenda. Find out who from which companies would like a booth then again feed their services/products into the agenda. Because of the founding history of eComm, the setup is the reverse, which has negative economic consequences in comparison, but makes for a radically better agenda.

The Emerging Communications conference - eComm - spends the entire year scouring the planet for the very best and most relevant people for the forthcoming period. It then looks for sponsors and corporate money. It's the only way of organizing if you want to genuinely showcase and accelerate communications innovation - and to uncover opportunities.

JA Innovation and disruption are key themes around eComm, and to wrap up, what type of person or company will get the most benefit from attending?

LD If you are in the communications/telecommunications field, you should take a look around the website and in particularly the agenda. If you've woken up and smelled the coffee, it should hit you like a ton of bricks that this is a MUST attend - not a nice to attend event.