My impressions about the forumoxord future technologies conference ..

Firstly, many thanks about the kind words about me, Tomi and Peter at many places in blogosphere.

Tomi and I chaired the forumoxford future technologies conference last week. Join forumoxford free at

As I summed up in my concluding comments, industry veterans like Jag Minhas of O2, Andrew Greenhalgh of Intel and David Wood CTO of Symbian all stayed for the whole day – and that in itself is a testament to the quality of the event.

Alex Kerr spoke of a ‘soul’ at this event and Tomi mentioned that this event has the feeling of ‘family’.

What is special about us?

I believe that the forum and the event have a unique ethos which permeates both its online and offline interaction.

As I said in my opening remarks, the ethos was the genesis for forumoxford which Tomi and I conceptualised at the Café Nero at the Dickens and Jones in Oxford Circus back in Aug 2005. To summarise that ethos was (and still is!):

Everybody wants to build social networks/communities. Few succeed.

It’s not a question of putting money into it! The philosophy matters

Technical excellence/ Knowledge of subject matter is the only currency

Be truly global

Treat people as adults – keep very few rules and regulations

Be business friendly (people can talk about their company in a thread)

Content matters

Conflicting viewpoints are OK

Understand community from a practical standpoint (allow hotmail/gmail address so people can speak freely)

Also, Tomi, Peter and I can take credit for one specific element of the day .. And that is in the selection of topics and speakers.

Unlike many conference organisers, with some humility, I can say that we do know the industry deeply .. And across many facets. Hence, we took a very granular approach.

For instance – we did not want ‘IMS’ – we wanted someone who had integrated IMS to facebook(Niklas Blum of Fraunhofer FOKUS), We did not go for an ‘Operator’ – we chose David Pollington of Vodafone Betavine for their pioneering work in device APIs for browsers. We did not choose a device manufacturer – we invited Mark Selby of Nokia to talk about Nokia’s pioneering work with Ovi. We did not want to talk about iPhone … we invited an industry veteran in Mr William Volk who developed real iPhone applications.

We did not speak of Mobile social networks – we got Antonio Vince Stabyl of who have 2.5 million ‘mobile only’ profiles. For Mobile design we got the ‘God’ of mobile user interface and design himself in Martin Lindholm!

We did not speak of ‘mcommerce’ – we got Simon Cavill of MiPay– one of the best people who I know in this space .. Who develop real life systems for emerging economies based on their immense experience. We did not get ‘Google’ – we got one of the early implementations of Google enterprise in the talk from Krzysztof Proczka from the Polish Operator Polkomtel and Matt Landeg from Google(i.e. a cooperation between Google and an Operator for Enterprise strategy) And then we had Jonathan Mc Donald from Blyk .. Who is pioneering some new directions in Mobile advertising and personalization .. and a debate between Tomi and Dean Bubley(which I had the un-enviable task of moderating!)

I could go on ..

The choice of speakers and their topics was absolutely critical and we thank all the speakers for their great contribution.

And reflecting our international audience on the forum, we also had a very international group of speakers ..

Luciana Pavan(MTV) from Brazil

Niklas Blum and Antonio Vince Stabyl from Germany

Cameron Doherty and William Volk from USA

Krzysztof from Poland

Christian from Finland

And ofcourse .. Tomi and I have three nationalities each! (For Tomi – Finnish, Hong Kong and British) and for me British, Indian and New Zealander.

So, what were my recollections of the day?

One of the most memorable images in my mind is a conversation between Simon Cavill and William Volk when Simon was presenting about funds transfer in developing companies.

William said .. ‘This is like printing money!’ To which Simon replied .. ‘It gets even better!. Think airtime! Its like having YOUR OWN currency’.(trading in airtime)

I could almost hear Mr Volk think – ‘The dollar’s down the tube .. And these Europeans are creating their own currencies .. Maybe ..I should emigrate! :)

Here are more detailed notes ..

Mark Selby –

How many people control their own wife/partner? We don’t think of it in that way because it is a relationship. In the same way, we as an industry cannot hope to ever ‘control’ a customer

Back in the 70s, Convergence was a set of three arrows pointing to a yellow cloud (IT, Media and Telecoms) and everyone expected to ‘solve’ the problem in a matter of months

DRM is an odd concept. If you threw a device into a window, can you blame the manufacturer for the damage to the window? If not, how can we hope to legislate against devices?

OVI is an open platform customers can choose which feeds they can display on OVI(for instance CNN etc etc) – not necessarily from Nokia.

Abolish the word user generated content!!

William Volk

Apple created a new ecosystem. That’s the key difference. So should others(hear hear!)

Alan Moore

Straight lines are made by man! Nature has networks

Customers connect, corporations broadcast!

Simon Cavill

Airtime could be the euro of the developing world!

Mark Landeg(Google)

Lets not talk of eating their lunch(Operator’s lunch). Lets speak of a new menu!

Antonio Vince Stabyl

Do we ‘Caralize’ airlines? I.e. develop a new format based on an earlier format?

Doctors and other demographics who have never heard of online social networks, are directly adopting mobile social networks

4 seconds after an earthquake – they had the first images. That’s the power of mobile!

New mediums have new leaders

Christian ..

Key design principles .. How much can you do with one hand? What’s the largest device that can fit inside a pocket

A ‘PC’ is a swear word in Nokia!

So, that’s it!

In conclusion, I spoke to Peter Holland at the evening drinks .. And we said .. We have created an institution .. The ethos of community, the spirit of the members and technical excellence is the key driver .. And it may well outlive us all ..

On my side, I would like to thank forum members, event attendees, speakers, sponsors and specifically my three partners in crime :) Tomi Ahonen, Peter Holland and Dr Rebecca Lingwood .. without whom we would never be here today!

Join forumoxford free at

Many thanks once again!

Kind rgds



  1. Was any of this recorded for people who could not attend?

  2. Ajit Jaokar says:

    Thanks Stefan. It will be on probably sometime this week.(free to join). Any probs contact me. kind rgds Ajit