Web Summit 17 was a blast. With 60,000 people from more than 170 countries visiting Lisbon, the numbers aren’t lying – it is the place to be for any techie and startup enthusiast out there, all feeling more like a mashup of a tech music fest than your typical conference.
Yeah, 60,000 people does look like that many people, with all the nuances that a crowd of this size brings. When not waiting in line at one of the many varied food corners, we had plenty of time to listen to meet up with great people with new, exciting ideas and hear some of the talks that got us excited for the future of technology.
Here are some of the key takeaways of Web Summit 17:
1. Messaging and Voice will power IoT
As a messaging company, this is always music to our ears. Ludovic Le Moan is the CEO & Co-founder at Sigfox, a French company that builds wireless networks to connect low-energy objects such as electricity meters, smartwatches, and washing machines, which need to be continuously on and emitting small amounts of data. As a panelist, he emphasized the importance of messaging as a means of real time communication during emergencies.
Messaging will play a vital role in IoT 2.0. For 20 cents, we can send a message from an envelope to the cloud.
In their 2016 Forecast: Internet of Things (IoT) report, Gartner projected that 8.4 billion connected IoT devices will be in use by the end of 2017. That’s up 31% from 2016 with the greatest concentration of use in China, North America, and Western Europe. Then there’s voice technologies.
Voice represents the next major disruption in computing. It is the new standard.
According to eMarketer, 60.5 million Americans will use Siri, Cortana or another virtual assistant at least once monthly. That equates to 27.5% of smartphone users, or nearly one-fifth of the population. More than one-third of millennials (33.5%) will use a virtual assistant this year. This is a trend we’re really excited about.
On that note, we’re extremely excited to start building new cool things with Solutions Architect and former Alexa Evangelist Liz Myers, to design innovative UX and IoT experiences combining Alexa and Infobip messaging API.
2. Video will continue as king in 2018
From traditional TV commercials in the 60’s to today's YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and even Facebook Live, it's no secret that video has become a staple of our everyday lives. Video itself isn't new, but its application for business is transforming in a big way, posing new opportunities for marketers like never before and affecting small and big companies alike.
"The growth in ad revenue increased 58% for online video since 2016. That's where companies should invest their media spending!" Thomas Meakin, McKinsey
3. VR will blow our minds
The hype around Virtual Reality is real. So is the application of the technology. Until recently, virtual reality had been something of a fantasy for storytellers and technologists. The Wikipedia view: Virtual reality (VR), which can be referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality, replicates an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world, allowing the user to interact in that world. We like to think that VR is the baseline for all immersive experiences, which could be created using purely real-world content, purely synthetic content or a hybrid of both.
For a moment, people forget where they are and are completely immersed in their virtual reality.
VR takes you anywhere. AR brings the digital + physical worlds together.
4. AI is the future of travel
One of the greatest moments of this year’s Web Summit was at its opening ceremony where Stephen Hawking held a keynote speech about AI. 20,000 people in the MEO Arena stood still and quiet for 10 minutes.
“Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know.” – Stephen Hawking at his speech on official opening.
Although his overall opinion of AI cannot be described as purely optimistic, he pointed out positive impact that it can have on our society: AI could also eradicate disease, end poverty, and reverse damage done to the planet.
“You all have the potential to push the boundaries of what is accepted, or expected, and to think big. We stand on the threshold of a brave new world. It is an exciting, if precarious, place to be and you are the pioneers,” said Hawking.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are transforming the travel industry, with Booking.com uniquely positioned to drive this change. CEO Gillian Tans shared her insights on why AI is the future of travel:
In the future people will have more time and freedom to discover the world.
Founder of Starburstaccelerator, the first aviation and aerospace start-up accelerator and venture fund, Francois Chopard also shared his thoughts on AI in travel:
With advances in battery technology, electric air transport ushers in an era of much cheaper and safer flight.
Speaking of travel and transportation, messaging will also play a key role for in-flight communications. We were also really happy to see our partner ofo, China's leading bike sharing company, explain how their company solved the last-mile problem in urban mobility, changing the lives of many through smart transportation options.
5. Desktop and apps: mobile is the future of enterprise
Data is the new oil, and AI is driven by the fuel of data.
Most retail companies today are struggling with decreasing in-store foot traffic. The answer to this is data. Through various loyalty programs, any modern retailer can collect their users’ shoe size and record in-store purchase habits. What they are lacking is data around how their users act on mobile.
Having that data, which gets progressively better through time as retailers get the ability to measure responses across all communications touch points, is key to increase shopper spend and boost in-store dwell time.
6. Robots and chatbots have feelings too
I don't want to see governments and societies banning technologies based on their potential indirect implications. That's quite dangerous.
Although everyone talked about chatbots and bots in general, as makers, we are still so far from having the perfect retail assistant who'll know what people want and need before they do, and offer the perfect purchasing opportunity.
Think of a logistics coordinator who'll take care of everything you need when moving, a smart and independent AI financial advisor who takes care of your investment portfolio. In the end, the best bots are yet to be built this is why we at Infobip Labs are cooking something special for the next Web Summit – stay tuned!