I recently returned from the APMC event in Yokohama, Japan. Now I don’t mind travelling and I’m certainly used to the travails of business travel after all these years, but this was a particularly brutal journey. It basically took two days to get there with the flight and time difference and a full 24 hours to return. All this for three sleep deprived days at the conference and exhibition. The long flight home provided ample time to ponder the cost/benefit ratio of making the trip.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge proponent of live events. There’s nothing to compare with the opportunity to meet with people face-to-face and no better way to get briefed on new products and technology and to gauge the state of the industry. I met with numerous old friends and colleagues and met many new people and companies. It’s also a great opportunity to experience new places and cultures. I have found Japan in particular to be intriguing and its people to be friendly, courteous and extremely hospitable. I enjoyed some good sushi too.

But what of all the folks who couldn’t make the journey? There were very few Americans and Europeans represented, and they missed out on an excellent technical conference and a well-represented exhibition.

This is why I’m also a huge proponent of virtual events. More and more live conferences are adding a virtual component to their events. There are a variety of models offered, but they’re all pretty sleek and they allow those who are unable to be physically present to reap the educational and some of the interactive benefits that these conferences and exhibitions provide. And all this from the comfort of your office or home and without any airport security pat-downs.

Last fall during the European Microwave Week event, Microwave Journal partnered with the European Microwave Association (EuMA) to produce the “Defence/Security Executive Forum,” which drew a crowd of nearly 200. The event was video taped and portions can be viewed on mwjournal.com; the presentations can be downloaded as well. Many of our readers have done so. Look for a far greater virtual presence at EuMW 2011.

At CTIA Wireless 2011 this coming March, MWJ has organized the 3rd annual RF/Microwave Zone Pavilion. In conjunction, we will be hosting a seminar for the first time, titled “Understanding MIMO OTA Testing: A Simple Solution to a Complex Test.” The leading experts on MIMO will be presenting live and the forum will be recorded for on-demand webinar viewing, allowing those not present at CTIA to view what promises to be an informative presentation on cutting-edge technology.

Webinars are clearly the hottest virtual environment at the present time. For MWJ, 2010 was a turning point, with nearly twice as many webinars produced than the prior year. We’re fortunate to work with prestigious partners such as Besser Associates and Strategy Analytics, but we’ve also seen a big increase in vendor webinars. More than 7,000 of you have attended one of these webinars live and many more have accessed them on-demand. If you have not had the chance to attend one of these events, I highly recommend it. I think you’ll find that they are well worth your time.

I’ll be travelling to nearly a dozen conferences this year, and I look forward to each one. They are my opportunity to stay current, stay networked and meet new people. I’ll also be attending numerous events from my laptop and looking for new ways to bring information directly to you. I hope to see you online, in-person or both.

Happy New Year,
Carl Sheffres