It is only a few months since we left Cologne and ITEC 2014, but preparations for the 2015 event are already well in hand. Next year’s Conference Chair, Tess Butler, PR Director for Bohemia Interactive Solutions, has been giving a lot of consideration as to how the event could made even more responsive to the needs of exhibitors, visitors and conference delegates; Europe Editor Dim Jones welcomes the opportunity to share her thoughts with MS&T’s readers.

MS&T: How do you see ITEC’s role in the S&T Industry? 

TB: ITEC has important role to play in Simulation and Training. It’s the one place in Europe where a conference and exhibition provides a forum for more than 50 countries to freely exchange ideas, practices and technologies and discuss the latest developments with Industry.

MS&T: How did you rate ITEC 2014?

TB: I thought Koln 2014 was a great venue, and was extraordinarily well attended. I spoke directly with about half the exhibitors, and all agreed that there was a high customer presence and that the conference was top quality. The many military customers were also very positive about their experience, and gained much from attending.

MS&T: How do you feel about being the ITEC Chair for 2015?

TB: ITEC 2015 will mark 20 years of involvement for me in Simulation and Training. I have been involved in ITEC for 15 years and I am honestly honoured to be asked. I really feel responsible in ensuring that we deliver the most relevant and dynamic conference and exhibition yet.

MS&T: What changes are you making for ITEC 2015?

TB: The main differences for ITEC 2015 are the early and year-long engagement with all stakeholders before the show. Ideally, attendees of the conference and exhibition should already know what they want to go and see, whom they wish to hear speak, and what they are going to demonstrate, and can have meetings set up whilst leaving enough flexibility to find the new. These changes are all about driving engagement and value for those attending and exhibiting. We all recognise that budgets are tight, and will continue to be, so it is of the utmost importance that ITEC delivers – delivers to the conference attendees, Military, Academia and Industry. I have been actively engaging all stakeholders since last February - before ITEC 2014. With the support of the organisers, Clarion, and the ITEC Committee, I have sought engagement from these areas by setting up Advisory Panels; we need everyone’s inputs to address the issues that are important to them. There are 3 panels: the Military Advisory Panel (MAP); the Academic Advisory Panel (AcAP); and the Medical Advisory Panel (MedAP). We have already had a meeting of the MAP, and this has driven the Conference content and structure. After all 3 have met and delivered content, I will be providing a briefing to Industry at I/ITSEC on this information, to help them shape and deliver customer-relevant and exciting demos and content in the ITEC 2015.

MS&T: How do you intend to make those differences come about; and how do you see these differences working and benefitting the debate?

TB: By briefing and working with as many military, civil and industry representatives as humanly possible before the show! If all stakeholders buy in with positivity and action, then ITEC 2015 can be a real platform of even more delivery and value to everyone.

MS&T: Tell us about the Military Panel.

TB: I set up the Military Advisory Panel as a result of discussions I’ve had over the last decade at Simulation and Training shows – specifically that there hasn’t been a clear and simple conduit for the Military to communicate their needs and issues to the conference organisers and to Industry prior to each event – this goes for all shows, not just ITEC. Also, Industry really needs to know and act on the problems that their existing and future customers are trying to address and solve. The members of the MAP had free rein, and an open forum without any outside influence, to raise the issues that matter to them. The MAP had 2 evenings and a very full day of discussing these issues, and delivered outcomes to be included in the Call for Papers and the Industry briefing later this year at I/ITSEC.

MS&T: What do you want to achieve at next year’s ITEC?

TB: I want the team to deliver the best possible conference, and the content, debate and presentations to be of the most relevant and highest quality. The Militaries who have contributed to the MAP have all said that they want their problems and future planning to be addressed; this means that papers shouldn’t have to provide ‘solutions’, but should leave room for debate - or indeed provide ideas for further exploration and experimentation. No technology can deliver a fix for every training challenge, just like no training deliverer has all of the best practice. Presenters will be invited to take part in more panels in the conference so that, rather than being ‘stand-alone’, they will work with other panellists and the audience on a subject.

MS&T: Do you think the changes at ITEC 2015 will translate to future ITECs, and what are you hoping to achieve with this change of approach? 

TB: The S&T Community will change the future of ITEC, by being more proactive throughout the year in finding speakers and contributors, and creating an exhibition which is committed to addressing present and future training and research needs.

It’s not so much a change in approach as a call to action for everyone to deliver the best they possibly can in a positive environment.

MS&T: In what direction do you see S&T moving?

TB: After all the discussions with customer and industry this year, there is a real need to sort out shorter, more robust procurement routes, which will enable the Training Deliverers to get on with what essentially is the purpose of all of this, namely better training, higher learning outcomes, with the flexibility for them to decide what is best, wherever and whenever they need it. We can never forget for a second that it is this training that saves lives, completes missions and delivers aid and relief around the globe. The community’s focus should always have the end-customer’s operational success as the primary driver.

MS&T: We applaud these initiatives, and wish you the very best in your leading role at ITEC 2015. See you in Prague, 28-30 April 2015. In the meantime Tess welcomes any direct contact from Military, Industry or Academia regarding ITEC and can be contacted either on tess.butler@bisimulations.com or tessbutler@ruddynice.com