A Round Up of Web Summit 2014

In General/Industry News, Search Technology by Marius Badenhorst

Digital Strategist and Head of Research & Development at Mediavision, Marius Badenhorst, attended this year’s Web Summit in Dublin. Web Summit has been described as “the best technology conference on the planet,” attracting thought leaders  from across the world including the likes of Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO of Hootsuite, and even the world renowned rock star Bono. We are excited to share Marius’ take of the first two days of the event with you.

Entrance to the Main stage Web Summit

Day 1

The first day of this year’s Web Summit event in Dublin was a whirlwind to say the least. The enormous venue hosted a bustling 22,000 attendees from over 100 countries who came together to swap ideas and rub shoulders with the 700 investors, 2,000 start-up exhibitors and 1,300 journalists in attendance.  The eagerness to discuss the latest technologies and excitement surrounding the event was evident in everyone at the summit. Navigating through the crowded maze in search of key stands, speakers and platforms proved to be a challenging venture, but well worth it.

Web Summit 2014

I was fortunate enough to meet some really interesting up-and-coming start-ups and brands that have successfully managed to plant solid roots in the fast-paced, highly competitive world of technology. One start-up in particular, New Relic, focusing on web analytics, immediately caught my attention.  Holding their own amongst their competitors, the New Relic team easily set themselves apart through the showcase of their business model, interface, and the inner workings of their online data management system. For those interested in web analytics, New Relic is definitely a company to keep a watchful eye on.

Another emerging start-up, known as Blueface, caught my interest at first glance.  The dynamic IP telephony company’s highly polished representatives outlined their communications suite (VoIP, mobile, etc.) and discussed the continued development of their product, offering an impressive amount of knowledge that was well received by their growing audience.

In addition to meeting and greeting new start-ups, my main objective was to attend jam-packed conferences led by key thought-leaders in the tech industry.

One session that I was very much looking forward to was steered by Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox.  The discussion highlighted the surprising new partnership between Dropbox and Microsoft that Houston claims is “really going to be great for a lot of people”.  Essentially, the joint venture will incorporate the file sharing site with Office, serving to benefit nearly 300 million users with the tap of a button.  The integration of the users’ 35 billion documents, presentations and spreadsheets in the cloud-storage platform, in addition to Microsoft’s 1.25 billion customers will bring about a development that is the first of its kind.

Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox

However, the most exciting session of the day would have to be PITCH, presented by Coca Cola.  The idea is simple: PITCH works by gathering over 200 start-ups from around the globe to come together and pitch their company ideas to a panel of noteworthy judges.  It’s a shame I didn’t have the time to sit through the entire session, as I’m confident it will be challenging to find so many business-savvy entrepreneurs, tech experts, CEOs or data scientists in one room again.

Although having, unfortunately, missed out on some of the Oculus presentation, led by founder and CEO Brendan Iribe, I was delighted to receive the invite to Vyuu’s stand on Thursday.  I look forward to trying out their immersive experiences platform and am currently undertaking the task of justifying the purchase the Oculus headset.  Here’s to hoping that managing director Guillaume de Sadeleer can give me some favourable arguments!

Day 2

I am up early on a much colder but beautiful sunny day in Dublin. Having been able to research the night before over a few pints of Guinness, I felt a little more prepared for the second part of the summit. I entered the summit amongst yet another bustling hub of people to find the main arena exhibition floor jam packed with even more exhibitors. Making my way to the main stage, I stumbled upon the Coder Dojo, which is invested in computer programming clubs for young people. I had to stop and listen because one of the youngest members of the summit was speaking about her first project. She is Lauren Boyle from Foxrock in Dublin and she is only 10! She was very passionate about coding and thinks that it should be taught at school.

Coder Dojo

With only two years of coding experience, her website is slick and beautifully produced. I wish I had filmed the demo she had.

She quoted; “I wanted to make a website that was fun and that I would like to visit myself. It has tips on what to do on a rainy day, how to make things and draw and paint and how to eat healthily,” she said.

Lorraine Twohill, Global VP of Marketing at Google Ireland, was named Adweek’s Grand Brand Genius of the year.

The interviewer asked Lorraine; “Google, what is marketing?”

Lorraine Twohill at Web Summit 2014

Lorraine responded with the following:

“Marketing for us is all about understanding the audience and their needs. We want to make people think and feel human. Google is all about mashing up the art and the science told through story telling.” She also added: “Search is always a big deal for us so one thing we’re focusing on right now is getting people to shift from using the desktop and move to using our mobile search app.”

“Android is interesting because everyone knows the brand but nobody really knows what it is, nobody understands what an OS is and why it’s important,” said Lorraine: “Android as an OS has always been a part of this very personalized, customisable movement and we want to showcase that.”

This was beautifully shown in a current TV ad by Android.

 “Marketing should be beautiful and submersive”

Some Final Words

Overall, the Web Summit event proved to be a success but I would suggest planning for this well in advance.

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About the Author

Marius Badenhorst