Final day at the Web Summit, it’s been a blast. So much knowledge and inspiration in one place, and I only got to experience a small part of it. Great organisation, all sorts of complex logistics thought through, some fantastic speakers. And Dublin, you were a charming host. Here are some of my highlights for the day.
What Millennials Want
A large percentage of millennials feel they’re not represented in the media, which begs the question who is the media representing?
I admit I get a bit irritated with the discussion of Millennials, it tends to position them as special, but when I read an analysis of what Millennials need it seems to be what workplaces should be offering everyone.
Future of Mobile
Rather than talking about mobile, we should be thinking about mobility.
Advertising remains a challenge, looking to solve it with formats with a higher impact; specifically fullscreen video or large images making messages legible, (hmmm, what happens to my data roaming allowance if I do this?).
Still see tracking across platforms/devices as difficulty, but we know mobile has leapfrogged other media and is now ahead of radio, magazines and outdoor video.
Mobile is already the primary method of communication with clients; eg in banking, where people visiting branches one or two times a year, online twice a month, but may use their banking app
Digital Marketing is Dead
This was more of an argument against creating silos in digital, something I find easier to agree with, and it contained the quote of the day
User experience is like fairy dust – sprinkle it on everything
You can see the whole presentation on slideshare.
Data of Media
A discussion with Sarah Wood (Unruly) and Rachel Schutt (data geek at Newscorp) about the need to create a culture of using data, not just bring in data for the decision moment.
Ongoing analysis by unruly shows that the key metric for sharing is the emotional intensity of a piece of content. It beats out do good, look good, funny, kudos, or status. Next challenge is connecting that emotional intensity to the ROI of a piece of content.
Not Impossible Foundation
How do you solve the world’s impossible healthcare problems? One by one.
The Not Impossible Foundation crowd sources ideas and builds sustainable solutions – like a 3D printed prosethetic arm for Daniel, a young man in Sudan. They didn’t just solve the problem for one man, they trained local technicians and left the equipment at a local clinic so more people can be helped.
I love it when technology changes lives in such incredible – but not impossible – ways.
Dharmesh Shah, Hubspot
As Hubspot grew there was a need to define how they worked, what the company values were and what that meant to the company. He began by thinking this was easy, but it became one of the hardest things he’s worked on.
Along the way he realised that culture grows organically and it’s hard to define as he put it “the first rule of culture – you don’t talk about culture”.
Eventually the Hubspot culture code was developed, which has become one of the most read documents on organisational culture on the internet. It’s defined as “part manifesto, part employee handbook, part manifesto of dreams”, take a look – it describes a place we’d all like to work.
Why spend time on culture?
- Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing – an amazing culture is what you need to attract stars.
- Peers beats perks – having great colleagues is more important than any sort of perks.
- Product is easy to copy; culture is hard to copy and it’s therefore is a barrier to entry for competitors.
It was a great presentation, but my favourite part of the presentation and of the culture guide is the principle that you should have as few rules as possible – expect employees to use good judgement. My presentations on building social into a company includes the line “people are nice; you can trust them”.
Real Time Marketing at Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola use social media to do “real time marketing”, monitoring social media for insights and turning those insights into content to respond. They can also ramp up for campaigns around events. For example they had a team at the World Cup in Brazil made up of Coca-Cola employees and agency staff who could read social media data, create content, buy media. The team turned out 10 TV commercials, 12 infographics and 16,000 responses over the 32 days.
They see that the “always-on” marketing should ideally be done by the brand, not outsourced to an agency. It’s a big commitment from the company involving 130 people world-wide working on real time marketing. Having the right people in the team and in the room together means they can respond quickly. In fact the vast majority of content around Coca-Cola is created by fans, around 85%.
Is it “kids playing on social media”? was a question posed. The answer was a clear “no, these are graduates with expertise and the tools to do their job”. Good to hear someone busting that myth.
Ryan Smith, Qualtrics
The Qualtrics company is behind collecting all sorts of research and marketing data, including feedback on the conference. Their team was wearing T-shirts with geek slogans such as “I’ve got 99 problems but getting data ain’t one of them”.
The company started in Ryan’s Smith’s family basement, and it was a long time before they needed – or took – any capital. It’s a great “start-up to success story”, and my favourite comment from it was “Qualtrics aim to do hard things; and want their employees to emulate the competent – not the confident”.
Closing the Conference
The final session on the mainstage is a discussion about the future of music, entertainment and what technology is doing to that. It features Dana Brunetti (producer of House of Cards), Eric Wahlforss (co-founder of SoundCloud) and some guy called Bono.
The moderator cracks a joke about the new line up of U2, and the panel claim the instrument they’d play – I don’t think anyone volunteers to be the drummer.
The questions are serious and so are the answers, this is an industry mid-change, there’s room for new models. But as Bono repeats; the artist must be paid, they don’t believe in the freemium model. Turns out as rich as U2 are they didn’t give away Songs of Innocence. Apple bought it, and then gave it away.
It’s a good discussion, but a tiny part of me wishes the line up were a little different… and the band were playing.
And that’s it for another year. You can watch the day’s live streams by signing up for next year’s conference.
Massive thanks to the hundreds of people involved in the conference, you did a great job (but next year fix the wifi).
I headed to the marketing stage this morning, and ended up spending most of the day there.
Content is King
Brands are more important in digital; as the due to noise:signal ratio grows, branded content helps viewers/customers find quality.
Brands need a content strategy, it’s not enough to just push content out there. Need a strategy behind it, and to measure the value to readers. Keep the ROI high, this allows you to keep building quality content.
In conversation with Clara Shih
This was the most relevant to me today, and I found myself agreeing with everything Clara Shih said.
Social is normal for people in their personal lives, it will become the standard operating procedure for companies. It always takes a decade or more to operationalise these things for enterprise, it seems to take a while for the change management to kick in.
Must understand social throughout the company – it can’t just be a team sitting in marketing – but through the company including the C-suite.
Shih sees 3 trends for social;
- social becomes a service layer on top of everything; IoT, wearables
- more data, meta data = shift towards hyper targeted “segment of one”
- customer will expect exchange of data to give them something in return
Raced over to the Machine Summit to hear a colleague talk about the Connected World. There was a queue to enter to prevent overcrowding, I was about the last person they let in.
There was some discussion on the opportunities of a future connected world. More features on devices came up as one option, for example adding a camera to a Roomba so that you can document what happens if your house floods – all I could think of was put a camera on it and film your pets. I guess that’s why I’m not working in connected devices.
One of the biggest challenges in this area was data standards and privacy questions. If you extract data from a device how do you protect that?
- Explain what you do with the data in a way people can understand
- Do a better job of always making it “opt in”
- Define and share best practices around privacy and security on collection, anonymising, use and re-use of data
- Privacy and security seen as a base layer – beyond that let people choose what to share
The future of connected – in the next five years?
Move from thinking about discrete devices to infrastructure and embedding connection into our homes and workplaces.Move to network of devices, and move to connected services. Move to configuration of homes for different purposes, eg; your home office disappears when guests visits.
Joanne Bradford from Pinterest
Introduces Pinterest as “inspiration plus action”, people use it to design their homes, think about their wardrobe, get inspired about exercise, collect recipes. The engagement is high because people use their boards. (OK, I’m the exception).
It was a platform created as a series of communities, starting with mum bloggers, and that meant it was under the radar in Silicon valley to start with.
They still see that community matters and arrange events for pinners, and invite them to press events.
- 750M boards
- 300B items
- best pins have great image + useful link + good description
- #1 category = comedy
Future of Media with John Ridding (Financial Times)
Always believed in the value of quality journalism, even when others saw a crisis of print media and declared that no-one wanted to pay for content. The mantra was “internet wants to be free”, but the internet is a channel so has no desires of it’s own.
More than half of their revenue now comes from Digital, and it’s the subscription model, not the ad revenue that’s winning it for them.
The challenge of getting some “start up” innovation fire into large enterprises, and an inside peek into the fantastic Unilever Foundry, which is great way of bringing fresh ideas and working them into something practical.
Pointing out the dangers of perfection mindset this presentation gave me the quote of the day
every day that a good idea sits in a powerpoint presentation is another day that the idea dies.
Keith Weed, CMO, Unilever
They’re one of the world’s big spenders when it comes to marketing, and they continued spending through the crisis although the breakdown of where that spend goes is shifting.
Marketing spend winners in general are social, search and increasingly mobile. But in terms of social media spend there isn’t a “winner takes all” platform as it makes sense to use multiple platforms depending on your purpose.
For consumers in social there are ongoing privacy and trust issues, right now technology is ahead of regulation, there are things being developed in technology that legislators don’t understand. I’d add that customers understanding is also often behind – even as their expectations grow.
As the Dutch saying goes “trust arrives on foot and leaves on a horse”
Brands have an opportunity to solve this ahead of regulation, and build trust with customers.
It was another packed day – lots of great speakers. The agenda on the marketing stage was rather random, as adjustments had to be made for speaker availability. So it was a bit of a surprising day, the other – less happy – surprise was the wifi. It wasn’t keeping up with demand, so my “life tweeting” was all over the place. OK, for an attendance of 20,000 people I guess it’s a challenge.
I’d still like an answer to my sheep tweet though.
Phil Libin, CEO Evernote
I missed his presentation last year, but my colleague recommended him as a speaker and a visionary, so this year I was determined to be in the room.
His vision comes down to; make work less sucky.
Evernote are ahead of the curve on productivity tools. They see the free version as their main version, and focus on getting people to “stay rather than pay”. People use the free version for a long time before buying into the product. They’ve also seen that individual users are often their best leads for enterprise to use Evernote.
His advice to entrepreneurs and developers; make something useful, see if people will like it and stay on it. Their best test of whether will use a new feature or tool is whether their colleagues use it.
Lew Cirne is the founder and CEO of New Relic, a company founded on the principal of making data visual in a way that is useful.
He had the quote of the day
Life is too short for bad software
The Role of Technology in Filmmaking: John Underkoffler and Tim Webber
John Underkoffler from Oblong worked on Minority Report and went on to make a real version of some of the coolest tools shown in the movie. Tim Webber from Framestore won the Oscar for visual effects in the movie Gravity. What I loved about this discussion was the emphasis on telling a story. The story comes first and the technology is tool to tell that story.
In the future they see the possibility to integrate with reality tools, but that this has to work in parallel with the story rather than detracting from the story. It occurs to me that at some point movies with virtual reality tools will start to blur the line between movies and games.
The next technology challenge is CGI “humans” that are believable and sustainable for a whole movie.
One key to their success is a very interesting skill that has growing importance in all sorts of companies. Movies are now made across several teams located in different countries, so collaboration in virtual environments has become an essential skill.
Room starts to fill up – this might be the closest geeks ever get to genuine stars.
This is not the most original of interviews, some of the questions seem to have been cribbed from an old Cosmo magazine. But Eva Longoria is gracious and funny and she gets her points across.
- in the cycle of poverty the best intervention is education
- women start biz at 3x rate of men but have trouble getting access to expertise and capital (in US)
- her foundation starts addressing these issues
By the end of the 20 minute interview there is a crowd at the front in a photo frenzy.
Artifical Intelligence has been disappointing, all the best stuff is always promised as something 20 years away – but we’ve been saying that for 50 years. As Peter Thiel once said “We wanted flying cars, we got 140 characters”
Last year there was a panel discussion in a tiny hard-to-find room, that ended up over-crowded with people peering in through the door. This year it’s on the main stage. Privacy is a real issue, and a challenge for all companies working in digital. An ongoing challenge in my work in social media.
Legal rep for NSA vs CEO from Cloudflare on the basis of privacy in the digital world; neither of them deny the importance of privacy and the challenges faced. But the discussion is where does the responsibility lie?
Peoples’ expectations have changed, many users will sacrifice some privacy for free services. Facebook and Google have a business model that exploits this, selling aggregated data to advertisers. But this is not everyone’s business model; Apple, Cloudflare and Ello are showing that.
There seems to be an ongoing tension between security and privacy; is this inevitable?
The CEO and founder of Dropbox, a tool I’ve loved and used for years.
He begins by talking about a tennis ball and the number 30,000
The tennis ball represents obsession – think of a dog at play, and 30,000 represents the number of days you have have in your life. Realising at the age of 24 he’d used up a third of them jolted him into starting out as an entrepreneur.
As Dropbox became successful he got a call; Apple were interested. He famously didn’t sell. When asked what number was on the table, he admits they never got as far as stating a number. Before the meeting someone told him that if he didn’t want to sell the company then don’t discuss selling the company.
When asked about competition he answers almost casually “We’ve always had competiton”, but manages to give the impression that being seen as a competitor to giants such as Google et al is a sign of success.
There was an announcement earlier – Dropbox and Microsoft have agreed to work together and produce deep integration between their two products. This leads to a question about equal pay – given the Microsoft CEO’s advice to women to rely on “karma” for salary equality. His answer is unequivocal “two people doing the same work should get the same money regardless of gender”.
And with a round of applause I wander off to find a Dublin shuttle bus. The driver roars “it’s two euro and tirty-five cents, all Dublin buses take coins only” and when we look surprised “this information is all on the web”.
It was another great conference, with lots of new ideas, great speakers and interesting people.
Highlights for me;
Seeing hundreds and hundreds of start ups; many I will never hear of again and some won’t ever “make it big” but it shows that digital is still innovative, and that much of the innovation is outside the standard companies. I spoke to a couple of people who work in incubators – helping these new companies get off the ground. It takes time and support to build a business out of an idea. Here are 15 of the hottest apps from the Summit.
I went to the “Leadership Lunch” which is a lunch for women in leadership positions in the digital world with keynote speakers. I’m usually a bit wary of “separate” events, but this had some great speakers so I signed up. It was really interesting to hear more personal insights of the challenges women have faced in working in Digital, but the biggest round of applause came for Caithriona Hallahan’s comment that one day we won’t think women leading in digital as unusual or remarkable and this won’t be needed.
Best session for me was a panel discussion on privacy, this is going to be an ongoing issue for all companies as digital becomes more mainstream and increasingly ubiquitous. It’s one where neither law nor technology has all the answers.
This year’s summit had more than twice the number of participants as last year, it added a “food summit” to showcase Irish food and is slowly being rebranded as “The Summit” as its fame grows. Some things were better this year – the taxis had been warned for example, and some things were worse – the wifi truly sucked.
There are plans to make it bigger and better next year – and you can already sign up for the 2014 two-for-one ticket offer. Prices are up on this year but it’s still good value as conferences go.
It’s the Web Summit conference in Dublin this week; a conference filled with the great and the good of the digital world. This year’s conference has five stages; Main Stage, Digital Marketing, Cloud, Development, and Library.
There are more speakers with “Founder” after their name at this conference than any other I’ve been to, and there are new start ups pitching great (and not so great) concepts. There are also events beyond the conference – this year a Night Summit and a Food Summit have been added.
There are some speakers I’m really looking forward to; Padmasree Warrior, Robert Scoble, Matt Mullenweg, Phil Libin, Michael Acton Smith. All leaders in digital business. There are speakers from the best publications in digital; Spencer Reiss from Wired, Mark Millian the tech writer from Bloomberg, Alexia Tsotsis from TechCrunch. And there are some topics that tempt me; “Big Data for Good or Ill” and “Future Content: Making Stuff People Actually Want to Read”.
Last year some of the most inspiring talks were from people I hadn’t heard of before – it’s where I first heard about Coder Dojo for example.
This conference attracts speakers who are driving digital change, they are leaders and innovators. It’s an great lineup.
I’m looking at the agenda and it’s really terrible, there is so much great content that I’m struggling to make a choice on which session to go to – it’s a luxury problem.