Mike Thornton FSCTE, President, Society for Broadband Professionals
As you will be aware, we have tried to become far less insular in our appeal and it is significant that over a third of our members now reside outside the UK.
The SCTE Benelux Group continues to be a success, organising two lecture days per year and introducing its first Annual Gala Dinner in 2013. Our training activities in the Balkans has resulted in many new members as well as enabling us to run successful conferences and exhibitions in the area.
The 2014 conference and exhibition in Belgrade attracted some 400 visitors and 30 exhibitors. 2015 saw us combine with ECEBE for a late September event in Budapest. We are now running our 2016 Eighth Balkan Broadband conference and exhibition in Belgrade, Serbia on 6 October. The self-contained SCTE India, which we set up in 2013, is now in full flow with member recruitment, exhibitions and training programmes which will address the needs of the wireline technicians and engineers on the Indian sub-Continent.
Our Journal, Broadband, continues to evolve and has become the foremost journal in the industry. It still carries a separate section with papers sourced by our German representative as part of our continuing relationship with ANGA, the German trade association and organiser of the most important cable show in Europe. We also continue to grow our relationships with other pan-European and global event organisers.
The complete revision of our basic core skills training courses for Installers, Service and Network Technicians and Network Architecture has seen several hundred more courses taken by students over the last two years. In addition, we have expanded the range to include a ‘Broadband Fundamentals’ offering as well as a Broadband fibre optical course. All these courses come with a comprehensive textbook for study and ongoing reference - the textbooks are available separately from the SCTE online shop or from Broadband Training Ltd.
Our website provides a modern, dynamic experience and reference platform for members as well as a window into the Society for prospective members. Our Archive section is growing continuously and already contains copies of every issue of the Society Journal from 1945 onwards. Archive material concerning the formation of the Society is available and we are continually adding minutes of AGMs and Executive Committee meetings from the inception of the Society.
Our lecture meetings continue to be successful. To increase the audience, we now provide offline webcasts on meetings held in London and other venues where possible. These typically attract several hundred views for each paper. This provides for better communication with members who are not able to get to the physical meetings and expands the audience for the companies making presentations. Our Summer Lecture event, introduced in 2010, continues to be well attended - in 2014, we combined a morning of formal lectures with a driving experience afternoon at RallyDays in Bicester. In 2015, we returned to Bicester for an afternoon of clay shooting and driving and, this year, we are at Mercedes Benz World on 6 July 2016 for Summer lecture presentations and an afternoon of driving experiences.
The annual Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony is even more popular than ever - our last event in 2015 held at the Tower of London and celebrating our 70th Anniversary was vastly oversubscribed with many members not able to obtain tickets. On 9 April 2016, we revisit Lincoln’s Inn for the Annual Dinner, another very popular venue. The re-introduction of the SCTE Awards for Excellence is proving popular and will continue to be a feature of the event. Our social programme is enhanced by an annual Summer Golf tournament, in conjunction with Informa, and an Autumn Golf day for the Society alone.
Our partnership in IBC Amsterdam continues to provide the Society with additional funding and allows us to invest in marketing, promotional and other activities that would otherwise be impossible.
This has included the purchase, in partnership with the CAI (our sister organisation), of our own premises in Watford, UK The freehold offices, in the middle of Watford, provides a friendly and efficient environment for staff and visitors as well as being a significant and growing asset for the Society.
We have also introduced a series of bursaries for members wishing to visit exhibitions and conferences which would not normally be within their remit. Currently, we offer two bursaries for the FTTH Conference, two for the DVB World event, twenty bursaries for ANGA COM and four for IBC. They all include travel, hotel and event fees. We are also looking at other potential venues where bursaries could add further value to our members.
I would just like to remind you that, in a consolidating European-wide cable industry, membership numbers are still difficult to maintain. Our promotional activities are successfully ‘building the brand’ but the sales process for membership is extremely difficult. The most successful recruitment method is always by recommendation (and a little arm-twisting – they will thank you in the end!). This is YOUR Society and I implore every one of you to encourage your colleagues and associates to join the Society and ensure its continued success. Joining is easy via our website or, as an alternative, just provide the Society Office with names and contact details of prospective candidates and we will do the chasing.