170831 internet-connectivity

The professional opinion: Jordi Gay

“It’s necessary to have a customer-oriented attitude, high availability and great capacity to solve any difficulties”

We speak with Jordi Gay, CCIB’s IT supervisor. He is responsible for the management and control of the IT and communication systems, as well as the development of the center’s capabilities in order to provide the best solutions to the customers. When we talk about microcomputing, servers, computer networks, internet connectivity, WiFi, system control, communications, videoconference or telephony… he is definitely the man.

Which aspects of your job do you like the most? Since when do you work in the MICE industry? What specific skills do you think are necessary compared to other jobs?

I am sure that the most interesting thing is to work in events that present a technological challenge, as is not always easy to find the solution that better suits the client needs. I have been working in this industry for more than 10 years and technological events tend to be the most demanding when it comes to IT requirements. In order to work in this sector, it is necessary to have a customer-oriented attitude, a high availability and a great capacity to solve any difficulties that may arise.

People is coming from different parts of the world and often they have a high technological profile that makes difficult to offer the highest quality standard. Which aspects are most sensitive: speed or possible network outages, security, periodic equipment renewal…?

There are many sensible aspects in a great infrastructure, as any of its elements can end up having an impact on the rest. It is necessary to be careful with all the parts, that is why we make periodic equipment renovations and system updates. There are a couple of parameters that have special incidence in the clients: internet speed and network outages. If the speed is low, the effect can be very annoying for the participants, but if there are connectivity cuts, then we are in front of a totally unacceptable scenario. To avoid this, the monitoring of all the elements is basic. This way you can diagnose and prevent possible problems before they happen, thus guaranteeing the best service to clients. Maintaining a quality standard as high as possible is part of our task and we try to do our best to give our clients the best experience. That would not be feasible without combining the human and technical factor in equal parts. Technology is important, but the human part is what gives and added value to the service. And while both elements are combined at a high level, the result can not bring any surprise.

Is there an event that, due to its complexity or level of customer demand, stands out among the rest in the CCIB? What is the biggest challenge that you have faced from your department?

Fortunately, we have many demanding customers, but if we had to highlight some, it would clearly be the ones coming from the technology industry. From our department, these are the ones that present us with greater challenges. They tend to have very specific requirements that need to be covered and, in order to do so, it is necessary to look for solutions that fit properly. The level required is usually very high and the technical team have to meet the expectations.

What 3 strengths you would highlight from the CCIB in general?

One of them is flexibility. Our staff has the ability to adapt and respond quickly the client’s requests. Another one would be the facilities. The different spaces (type and dimensions) can be adapted to the client needs offering a wide range of uses. And finally, I would highlight the constant improvement. Both, the venue and the staff are constantly evolving, so that the services offered by are better day after day.

What is the advantage of working in a multinational like GL Events?

GL Events is a recognized company of this industry and, just for that fact, being part of it already represents a very good letter of presentation. One of the main advantages is that we not only know the CCIB, but we have also the possibility to see other venues that are part of the group. It is very interesting to visit the venues in Lyon or Brussels for example, as that allow us to share different points of view and experiences with people who have the same function as ours in another country. It also helps you creating the need of improving the services or looking for new ones.

What have been the last investments that the CCIB has faced in technology? And what are the forthcoming actions planned?

Las últimas inversiones en tecnología han incluido la renovación de los firewalls principales del centro, junto con la diversificación del acceso a internet a través de diferentes operadores de forma transparente. El nuevo sistema permite tener diferentes operadores de acceso a internet para que, en caso de caída de alguno de ellos, el segundo operador tome el relevo de forma totalmente automática. Esta redundancia de operador sirve tanto para el tránsito de salida como de entrada, ofreciendo así una mejor fiabilidad, disponibilidad y servicio. Próximamente, están previstas la ampliación del sistema de WiFi (con un despliegue de IEEE 802.11ac), la mejora del sistema de megafonía y la renovación de los servidores.

The latest investments in technology have included the renovation of the main firewalls of the center, along with the diversification of access to internet through different operators in a transparent way. The new system allows different operators to access internet, which in case of fall of any of them, the second operator takes the relief automatically. This operator redundancy serves both for inbound and outbound traffic, thus offering improved reliability, availability and service. Coming soon: expansion of the WiFi system (deployment of IEEE 802.11ac), improvement of the megaphone system and renewing of servers.

How has the world of convention centers evolved from your point of view in the last decade? What has affected your skills in technology?

From an IT point of view, one of the things that have evolved the most is the need for WiFi in events. This service has become one of the most important for an event , as all the participants expect to have wireless internet connectivity when attending a congress or convention. The great demand and the increase of devices to connect, has made that we had to develop the necessary abilities in order to offer this service, WiFi connectivity in a scenario of high density of users. Having rooms with hundreds or thousands of people who want to connect to internet simultaneously using their mobile devices (phone and/or tablet), has become usual and the center has to be able to respond to that need. Therefore, the systems that provide coverage have been updated and adjusted to provide the service in the best conditions. The team has also had to specialize in this field to respond to the demand.

In recent years, the mobile and social networks have become protagonists and have also grabbed the attention in the services for the organization of events. Any comments on this?

Social media and their use through the mobile or tablet, are the first window where people can leave their opinions. It is easy, accessible and fast, so we encourage them to be used. Therefore, they have become an information point that allow us to consider if an event has been a success. It is important to follow any information that may be published regarding the event or the venue. In this way, it is possible to make a better follow-up of how the event has gone, track the aspects to improve and possible actions to take.

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