Ray Sokola is not only the CTO for Motorola Connected Home; he also works closely with the SCTE. For the recent SCTE Emerging Technologies Conference, he chaired the subcommittee charged with selecting topics for program sessions. I caught up with Ray to find out how the subcommittee worked and also to hear his thoughts on the conference now that it’s behind us. Here is what I found out.
The program subcommittee is set up to determine topics that will be relevant to cable systems three to five years from now. Consulting their crystal balls, committee members came up with a number of session ideas and decided to fit as many as possible into the overall program. Topics of keen interest included personal and user-generated content, new advertising models, place-shifting and device-shifting.
In order to accommodate a larger selection of content than usual, the committee made changes to the conference structure and implemented new tools to enhance and supplement the on-site experience. First, they added an online platform to house papers and discussion groups, effectively launching the conference several weeks before its official start date. Second, they used WiFi during the conference for electronic submission of questions and a telestrator for real-time illustration of points. According to Ray, this made for a lot fewer PowerPoint recitations and a lot more discussion.
I also asked Ray what technologies came up most frequently during the conference and if there were any surprises during the event. Not surprisingly, the technologies he highlighted were IP video, IMS and DRM. As far as unexpected outcomes, Ray was pleasantly surprised at the reaction to keynote speaker Bob Metcalf. Bob Metcalf is an engineer, inventor and entrepreneur, which made him an excellent choice for keynote. However, he is not a “cable guy” by training and there was some worry about negative reactions from the audience. As it turned out, the responses were overwhelmingly positive. Not only did Bob Metcalf do a fantastic job, but it became clear that the lines are blurring between engineering fields. What might not have been relevant to cable yesterday, like an IP platform, is relevant today, and will be even more relevant in the future.