November 14, 2018
The Web Summit 2018 brought together 70,000 people from around the world, creating an enormous space for discussion and knowledge sharing. We were not going to miss out and made our way to Lisbon to get new perspectives on current technologies.
Some of the biggest topics this year were diversity, sustainability, and ethics. Thanks to Women in Tech support, half of the attendees were women. Several discussion panels and talks highlighted gender inequality and biases that are still present on each and every level, and in every industry. Did you know that less than 10% of Venture Capital financing goes to startups founded by women? And this is not due to a lack of women starting their own businesses, but rather to biases in our today’s society. Sad but true statistics show that gender issues in such a progressive era are still not addressed properly.
After almost 30 years of the World Wide Web, its creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee explained his original intent: a free, open platform that would serve humanity, accessible to everyone. The evolution of the WWW has plenty of both good and bad examples of usage, but Sir Berners-Lee expressed his disappointment with the path that web content creators have taken. As we are about to cross 50% accessibility acriss the world, he calls on all of us to stand up and fight for the web we want – to make the web a better place with more value and respect for people’s fundamental rights to privacy.
NoA Ignite at the Web Summit 2018
Several keynotes covered #buzzwords topics such as AI, machine learning, quantum computing, blockchain, and robotics. (You can read about what we do in this field here). A unique performance took place on the main stage when two robots were part of the discussion panel. Surprisingly, and luckily for us, both robots were able to have a conversation with a human but not with each other – so it seems that robots are not yet ready to take control over the world. As for Machine Learning or “Things Labeling” if you prefer (a definition created by a statistician), it’s worth to keep two aspects in mind: analyze your data in context and be mindful, empathetic and thoughtful while doing it. The message is simply that morality and ethics are crucial in ML and AI!
NoA Ignite at the Web Summit 2018 NoA Ignite at the Web Summit 2018
As always, Google had the best-prepared sessions – it’s amazing how well they do it, regardless of the topic. You may love or hate their technology, but the level of awareness and knowledge about the users of their products is impressive. There is no denying that they are nailing their research. In contrast to many companies that claim to have a customer-centric strategy, Google takes action. Starting from the early focus on usability and lab research, they have taken a step further with immersive research, ethnographic research among rickshaw drivers in India, and users presenting their products in top management meetings. The features we currently have in Google Maps and Search, and probably any other product they offer, are based on eureka moments and insights from their studies.
NoA Ignite at the Web Summit 2018
Calm (the meditation app) carries out a lot of research and analysis on their users’ behaviour as well. They discovered that most of their adult customers meditate before bedtime, because it helps them to fall asleep. Following this observation, they have created bedtime stories for adults. How awesome is that – we can’t wait to try it out! They also highlighted that a calm mind can fuel creativity, so it’s important to spend some time during the workday to relax and be mindful.
Making Waves at the Web Summit 2018
It’s great to observe how digital technology is being immersed in industries like healthcare. You may be familiar with Headspace (another meditation app), a successful product that provides a delightful visual experience. It is obvious that Headspace does a lot of research, but you may not be aware of the fact that they are conducting clinical research with the aim of becoming a digital medicine, prescribed by doctors for some mental illnesses.
"Technology is leading the charge toward a mental health revolution."
Making Waves at the Web Summit 2018 Making Waves at the Web Summit 2018
The Web Summit is perfect for new businesses that are keen to hunt partnership opportunities, get ideas for product user cases, interest new investors and promote themselves.
One of the highlights of the event was the he Start-up pitch challenge, which brought together some of the world’s leading early-stage startups for a live on-stage battle. The presentations were inspiring and showcased some really cool stuff, and it was also fun to hear about new products and ideas, some of which simply made no sense. It was a valuable experience to see which questions can help to sell the startup teams’ solutions. It’s not always a genius idea or the most revolutionary technologies that make the business angels take a positive decision – more important is the charisma of the presenters and the trust and love they show that they are willing to pour into peoples’ hearts.
We now know how it works, how the panel gives feedback on both the product value proposition and the clarity of marketing messages, and how to nail the pitch challenge. Next year, perhaps the AI startup proposition will come from Making Waves ;)
Making Waves at the Web Summit 2018
All in all, some of the best things about the summit were the variety of events and subject, the great ideas from hundreds of start-ups (although we rack our brains over an idea of a special app for taking pictures with your phone), a couple of famous tech gurus among the speakers (you may be surprised to hear that Major Lazer or Alexander Wang were among them), and of course the beautiful city of Lisbon.
Unfortunately, the quality of the speeches was very uneven. Many were inspiring and thought-provoking, but quite a few were more like self-promotion performances with vague thoughts that did not present much value and wasn’t good auto-presentation either.
There was nowhere near enough time to see everything Web Summit had to offer. Here is a tip for anyone who plans to attend this event next year: the sooner you accept the fact that you will not be able to see it all, the better for your mental health during the four days. Otherwise you will end up in a terrible mood, rushing from one end to the other between thousands of people and will end up with nothing except a headache (self-experience confession). Having a plan in advance really helps to avoid running around the four pavilions like crazy!
Thinking of going next year? Read more about the Web Summit here.
Mariola is a User Experience Designer. She appreciates working collaboratively. For her diversity of mindsets, experiences and insights are key to successful products. She also values communication, building relations and cooperating on a team.
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