For some considerable time now, our 2024 data protection and information security conference had been far ahead on the horizon. Week by week, we’ve been creeping closer to the big day, our nerves, excitement and anticipation growing by the minute. And now, after months of planning, hours of travel, and thankfully, an unforgettable and fantastic day, we can stop looking ahead to our conference in anticipation. Instead, we can look back on what we’re proud to say was an engaging, educational, and empowering success.
This year’s event took place at The Bond in Digbeth, Birmingham – a beautiful and modern gem sitting right in the heart of the city. Thanks to its wide open spaces, stylish decor, and prime location (just by the canal), this was the perfect place to host the conference we’d put so much thought and effort into.
The ICO delivered the keynote
We were thrilled when the news of the ICO’s eagerness to get involved first landed in our inbox, as we knew that our attendees were in for a real treat. There seemed to be no better way to grab everyone’s attention than by having Anulka from the Information Commissioner’s Office delivering a talk on what we can expect from the year ahead.
Anulka Clarke bravely championed the stage and talked us all through the incoming changes to the Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) bill, the support that organisations could anticipate, and other changes due to hit the privacy world. Anulka took some tricky questions, listened to some concerns about the bill, and provided our event with a fascinating introduction. We had really started with a bang, and couldn’t be more grateful that Anulka was so keen to join in.
Our expert speakers
We were lucky enough to have a diverse variety of speakers from different organisations, with different backgrounds, and holding different perspectives. This gave our conference a wide range of topics and opinions that taught us all a lot about the industry, including the fact that there is always more to learn that we don’t yet understand.
In addition to the talk delivered by our aforementioned keynote speaker, Anulka Clarke, we also had the chance to see:
Data and Cybersecurity in a Modern Technical Enterprise:
Philip Wright (Pngme) and Nish Imthiyaz (Vodafone) went in depth about the intricacies and functionality of current technology, such as AI, and how it affects our data and information security in the modern world.
The Effective DPO:
Nigel Gooding (DPAS), Eugénie Michalopoulos (BlueOptima), and Emma Martins (Ex Guernsey Commissioner) shared how – from their experience – you can perform most effectively as a Data Protection Officer. They discussed the key skills and characteristics that a DPO should have, and why these are so important.
Understanding Neurodiversity in the Workplace:
Rowenna Fielding (Miss IG Geek), Nish Imthiyaz (Vodafone), and Philip Wright (Pngme) took to the stage to bring attention to neurodiversity. They provided insights into autism and ADHD and how managers can best accommodate people who don’t fall under the ‘neurotypical’ banner.
Data Sharing Myths from the Data Sharing Dinosaurs:
David Parsons (Digital Health and Care Wales) and Barry Moult (BJM IG Privacy Ltd) explored some myths and misconceptions regarding data sharing. Barry was even fully committed to his title and wore a dinosaur costume on stage!
Using Technology to Empower Your Team:
Geoffrey Ceunen (RESPONSUM), Natalie Bennett (DPAS), Emily Overton (filerskeepers), and Dean Hogarth (OCU) tackled the topic of increasing productivity by taking advantage of the technology available to your business. For instance, they discussed how privacy management software is easier to integrate earlier into your organisation’s life cycle, rather than making the change much later.
Embedding Data Ethics Into Your Privacy Programme:
Ralph O’Brien (Reinbo Consulting) and Rowenna Fielding (Miss IG Geek) gave a talk on the challenges involved in implementing data ethics, and best practices for sharing data responsibly and respectfully.
The Incident Response Workshop that put us all to the test
How effectively would your organisation respond if an unexpected cyber attack were to strike your business tomorrow, rendering your operations offline and putting your data at risk? Well, no matter your confidence in your organisation’s readiness, there are always things that are possible to overlook. And that’s what a lot of us realised through taking part in the Regional Cyber Crime Unit’s activity.
This workshop took us through what a typical cyber attack might look like, and asked us all (anonymously) to contribute our ideas of what we would do each step of the way. And thanks to the RCCU’s advice and feedback, we each now have a much better idea of what good practice would be in such a worrying situation.
A day of networking
The talks and activities we had lined up for the day were enough to have us all buzzing with excitement, but we’d be lying if we said that the thing we were looking forward to the most wasn’t meeting the guests. We had approximately 150 people sign up for the event – some familiar names, and some completely new to us – who we were all keen to get to know a little better.
Over tea, coffee, lunch, and dinner and drinks for some, we were able to chat with the wonderful people who joined us at the conference, learning about their organisations, their roles, and their passions. We made many new connections that day, and can’t wait for the new conversations we’ll be able to have with all the fellow privacy enthusiasts we met.
A big success
Overall, we’re relieved that our conference is now behind us and that it was a roaring success, but at the same time, we can’t help but feel sad that it’s over. We had an amazing time, and according to the flattering feedback we’ve received so far, so did our attendees! Here’s what some of our guests had to say:
“Good range of topics, fast pace from one topic to the next, lovely venue in the physical sense, really good for mingling and networking.” – Matthew, Admiral Money
“The location, speakers, set up, staff. The conference was free and was better than paid conferences I have attended in the past. Especially for someone early in their DP career, it was inclusive and interesting.” – Emily, InHealth Intelligence
“Range of very relevant and interesting subjects, enthusiastic, energetic, inspiring and knowledgeable speakers, really nice atmosphere, great venue, very well organised, great welcome. Wonderful networking opportunity and networking very much encouraged. Every detail thought through to be of benefit for attendees and sponsors alike..” – Anna, Herts and West Essex ICB
A massive thank you is in order for all who came. Whether you were a guest, a speaker, or a sponsor, we appreciate your participation, and hope you’ll come along to any future events we’ll be hosting.
Now that this conference has wrapped up, it’s time to look ahead to the next.