Knowledgespeak Exclusive: An interview with Clive Snell, Managing Director, Info International -

Q

Knowledgespeak: Can you briefly talk about the forthcoming ConTech 2019 conference? How does this year compare to last year’s event?

A

Clive Snell: ConTech 2018 was a completely fresh and new idea. We were overwhelmed by the excitement it created, the level of audience engagement that took place over the two days and the feedback we received. For example "I am writing to thank you for inviting us to participate in ConTech 2018. The conference was fantastic for us, both from a business prospecting perspective and a learning perspective. As I said to you briefly, this was the best conference I have attended in years, and one of the first times that I did not feel like the speakers were actively pushing their software or trying to sell services." Michael Puscar-Founder, OIGA Technologies

Our aim for this year’s event is to deliver more of the same and to exceed the audience’s expectations like we did last year. We aim to bigger, bolder and better than before. We have far more sponsor support than last year which helps us introduce new initiatives and enables a continual improvement of the audience experience.

Q

Knowledgespeak: Can you share with us any interesting events / trends for the 2019 Conference? Also, briefly tell us about the planned sessions and the Keynote speakers.

A

Clive Snell: The core of ConTech 2019 is continuing to focus on the transformation of content through data science, AI and other emerging technologies. The programme is full of stories based on the intersection of content and technology and the impact that is having on content creation, workflows, dissemination and consumption. We are also featuring the latest product and new ideas presented by content pioneers that are actually doing these things today. We are staging a “Circle of Voices” session which will enable real sharing and knowledge sharing. Our day one and day two opening keynotes are focused on AI, looking at ease of use, the opportunities and the real threats it can pose. We also are staging a really exciting Data Journey keynote session staged by two of the content world’s leading CDOs – Ann Michael from PLOS and Max Gabriel from Taylor and Francis.

Q

Knowledgespeak: Building on the success of ConTech 2018, you introduced ConTech Live. Can you briefly talk about this ground-breaking initiative?

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Clive Snell: Following the success of the inaugural event we soon realised that the ConTech concept was too broad for one single event in one location. So we created ConTech.Live to act as an umbrella website and entity within which we can offer other things. So far we have delivered the ConTech Forum, the Pharma meeting is a little over two weeks away and we have other ideas for next year. Additionally we see really interesting international opportunities and other extensions of the brand all of which can sit neatly within ConTech.Live

Q

Knowledgespeak: Big Data seems to be the biggest unsolved problem today. How, according to you, can content businesses tackle this issue? Also, how much of an impact can AI, machine learning, data science and other emerging technologies have on content creation, dissemination and consumption?

A

Clive Snell: These questions are really at the heart of the ConTech 2019 agenda. Content businesses need to recognise that they are on the path towards being a data driven and informed organisation and they need to plot a path that delivers in the short term and achieves bigger picture goals in the longer term. They need to think in terms of capabilities, both human skill sets and technology capabilities. Start with smaller projects that develop skills, deliver some success and put in place knowledge on which to make future decisions. It needs to be an interactive ongoing approach, but with a strong and bold direction.

Q

Knowledgespeak: Over the past few months, the shift towards early-stage research has intensified. We have witnessed a strong focus in scholarly publishing on structuring and opening up pre-published research to ensure it is trackable and useful to researchers worldwide. How, according to you, is technology helping to achieve this? What trends do you see coming up next?

A

Clive Snell: This is clearly a major part of the whole open science movement. We have many sessions within the programme in December that touch on this area. For example, Morressier are specifically addressing this question in their session "How to use technology to unlock the value of your early stage research." Increasingly I see research networks and other organisations doing more of this and all I can see is an acceleration in this area.

Q

Knowledgespeak: A new generation of technology is impacting the world of content. Briefly talk about this year’s papers and how you developed the programme. What can attendees expect at ConTech 2019?

A

Clive Snell: Our themes were developed just after last year’s event. We have a chair team of six highly experienced content, technology and data professionals who help with that. We then did a call for papers and we do individual reach outs to attract specific speakers and subjects. We then also have a group of ConTech Ambassadors all around the world who assist with reviewing some of the submissions, making extra suggestions and so on. Who they are can be seen here Chairs and Ambassadors. All our sessions are designed to offer really good practical advice on how to make the most of the technological advantages and data science opportunities. A key question will be "is your organisation data ready?" Delegates will be able to work out how to answer that question and learn how to develop the best strategies, hire the best people and use the best tools. We will also be looking to the future to speculate on what the key issues will be going forward? How does the landscape look and where are the real opportunities? At the same time we will cover basic but really important issues like the ethics of data science, cyber security etc.

Q

Knowledgespeak: Content creation and consumption is changing faster than ever before. How, according to you, can information providers and content owners address the challenges of competing in a data world, driven by machine learning, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies?

A

Clive Snell: Firstly, managements need to accept and recognise that this is happening and it’s happening today. Organisations need o embrace the issues around data at the heart of their operations. This is an enormous transformative process. It must be driven by leaders and will take time. The opportunities are myriad. ConTech and any of our associated events offer real opportunities to learn, share and network with a highly engaged group. Every organisation needs to be developing their blueprint to navigate a path through these changing landscapes. This is ultimately what makes ConTech so exciting.

Q

Knowledgespeak: How will you follow the likely success of this year’s event? What does the future hold for Contech?

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Clive Snell: We are incredibly enthusiastic about the future for ConTech. Specifically we will continue to develop the Flagship UK event at the end of each year. Within the brand we see enormous opportunities for overseas expansion, new events with a specific in-depth focus and the development of other tech disruptive products that will help content and information professionals with this transformation. We will listen really hard to what our delegates say in December. We will take that away and by early January we will have formulated our plans so I guess I am saying ask me again in 2020!!!


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