#WebSummit Day 2 Review
So that’s it for another year. The Web Summit has now closed and what an event it was. From Elon Musk to Phil Fernandez to Jordan Casey it was inspiring to hear so many tales from coders who share an entrepreneurial streak and a desire to innovate, change the world and build something.
I spent most of yesterday hopping between the Digital Marketing and Main Stages, and here’s what I observed, learnt and liked:
Digital Marketing Stage
The loudest cheer for the afternoon was reserved for Jordan Casey – a very impressive 13 year-old from Warterford, Ireland who loves coding and runs two start-ups. Although, a relatively brief talk, Jordan spoke candidly about the benefits and drawbacks of being such a young entrepreneur, such as balancing coding with school work and not always being taken seriously. He spoke about his start-ups TeachWare – a web based application for teachers and Casey Games, his game design company, which both sound as they are doing very well. Jordan is exceptionally well travelled and clearly a very intelligent guy, with a bright future ahead of him. If anything, his talk reinforced the notion that we should judge people based on their achievements, not how long they have been working in a particular area.
Next up was a fireside chat between Mark Milian, tech writer at Bloomberg and Jimmy Maymann, CEO of Huffington Post. I’m fascinated by the media industry and in particular, the strategies traditional media is using to grow. Jimmy said his role is to evolve the business in terms of revenue and audience, and he spoke about the challenge to make HuffPo more entrepreneurial by having the autonomy to make decisions quickly and innovate. Trying to foster an entrepreneurial spirit while launching aggressively in 15 countries (they have set-up in nine countries already) over a three year period is a challenge and Jimmy reflected that the business is now reaching a size where it’s difficult to call it a start-up.
Interestingly, Jimmy described HuffPo as a news platform, not a news site. He sees it as a place people go to start conversations around topics and themes which are important to them. He then expanded on this by saying it’s also a tech platform as much a new platform. Semantics aside, how Jimmy views HuffPo is noteworthy as news is increasingly becoming a shared, social and digital experience.
With traditional media struggling, it’s encouraging to see Huffington Post look to reach a global audience of 100 million. It seems that media companies now have two options if they’re are to succeed. They can follow the Harvard Business Review, the Economist, FT.com and Econsultancy route of publishing some content for free, but hiding most behind a paywall or the Huffington Post and Daily Mail approach of creating ‘must-see’ content, but also making it a social experience where people can comment and interract with the author and each other.
Then up stepped, Phil Fernandez, CEO of marketing automation giants Marketo. Last year I saw Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot speak about automation and it’s an area I’ve been exploring in my role at Chill Insurance and one I’m very interested in, so I listened intently to Phil.
He spoke about how in a world of increasing noise, the rules of digital marketing have changed and thanks to technology we now have the opportunity to market our products like Amazon. Throughout the talk Phil mentioned how we need to create unique, individual, permanent, personal and durable relationships with customers and he announced the following new rules of marketing:
1. Stop segmenting customers based on demographic. Instead understand deeply their behaviours and respond to this.
2. Move away from mass advertising to one-to-one communication. We now have the tools to deliver personalised, tailored and customised communication.
3. Evolve from big blast activity to continual relationships. Focus on developing a lasting relationship by creating a continual user journey over a sustained period.
4. Use integrated channels and stop siloing. Move away from the fragmented view and take a multi-channel approach.
5. Move from intuition to data driven automation. The tools which enable us to understand what really works are here. We must market with data and precision, not intuition.
For, me the key takeaway from Phil’s talk was that we should focus on creating a cross-platform journey, rather than overly focusing on specific activity. This is something i’ll be focussing on in my role over the coming months.
Billionaire technology entrepreneur Elon Musk then closed proceedings by driving Taoiseach Enda Kenny on to stage for a Q&A. For those unfamiliar with the name Elon Musk, you’ll most certainly know his work – Elon counts PayPal, space exploration company SpaceX, electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors and SolarCity amongst his glittering array of achievements. He was also the inspiration for the billionaire genius Tony Stark in the movie Iron Man. Elon is a genuine visionary and he spoke about the need for more engineers – and that countries looking to establish a start-up base should look at reducing fees for students wishing to study these subjects. Wise words for the government to ponder.
After two action packed days and three entertaining evenings, the Web Summit drew to a close. There were many highlights and some hugely insightful talks which have left me feeling excited, inspired and refreshed. Not only did the Web Summit bring together entrepreneurs from across the globe, but the event itself is testament to chasing a dream and following your entrepreneurial spirit. I’m looking forward to next year’s event already.