A precarious balancing act

Long processes and political issues were a bane to the event, but K&A found a way to cope

The return of WCIT to Taiwan, after 17 years, marks the importance of the digital economy in Asia. Over the next five years, WCIT – often referred to as the “Olympics” of the ICT Industry – will be held in the region.

The theme of WCIT 2017 was Fulfilling the Promise of the Digital Age: Building and Sharing the Dream, and comprised a congress, tech expo, and smart cities live demonstrations and experiences.

Organised since 1978 by the World IT and Services Alliance, WCIT is one of the most important industrial ICT events in the world that brings together visionaries, captains of industry, government leaders and academics from all over the globe. Discussion topics range from emerging markets and technologies to legal and policy issues, user perspectives, new business opportunities and developing political and economic trends.
Over the years, speakers and delegates have included Al Gore, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Bill Clinton, Don Tapscott, Bill Gates, Steve Balmer, John Chambers, Nicholas Negroponte, Vinton G Cerf, and Colin Powell.
Taiwanese PCO K&A International started working with the WCIT 2017 local committee from August 2016.

The project office, consisting of members from government and related associations, was formed in late-2015. During the two-year preparation period, team members were changed or replaced, and K&A not only had to work with different new members but also guide them. Also, the weekly meeting with the minister also involved a lot of time. For instance, handling the paperwork and going through the decision-making process, according to the company’s president, Kitty Wong.

“As 17 parallel events were held alongside the main congress, another challenge was the allocation of meeting rooms and accommodating various logistic needs in Taipei International Convention Center,” she added.

K&A also faced a number of unforeseen circumstances like a sponsorship of US$200,000 not materialising; 2,000 delegates stuck at Heathrow Airport because of a volcanic eruption in Iceland; and cancelled flights because of a typhoon in Taiwan. There was also a last-minute venue change on the opening day.

To tackle the project office personnel issue, K&A had to rely on its years of professional experience to communicate with, and convince stakeholders on the decisions that had to be made. As for the weekly minister’s meeting, the template report format was used to reduce paper work, Wong noted.

“We provided clear guidance and checklists for all the ‘organisers’ to follow. We also use human signage and plenty of volunteers to direct delegates instead of various standalone backdrops and banner distractions,” she shared.

A list of substitute names for the speakers whose flights were affected by the typhoon was activated and live broadcasting helped to minimise the impact on the programme.

Fortunately, the last-minute change of venue only affected the first day opening being relocated.

Wong shared: “To manage the reduced budget (without the sponsorship money), there were no coffee breaks, no lunches, no entertainment at the gala dinner and no honorariums.”

Since the event was co-organised by the government, Wong said the decision-making process was much longer than other events. K&A had to be aware that politics would sometimes influence the final decision, and as the PCO, understanding the stakeholders and being flexible were important.

Event The World Congress on Information Technology 2017 (WCIT 2017)
Organiser Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan World Information Technology and Services Alliance
Date September 10-13, 2017
Venue Taipei International Convention Center, Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall No. of attendees 3,000 from 68 countries

Previous articleRevitalising an island
Next articleMemorable dining venues