Updated: Aug 9, 2021
Highlights from Web Summit, the largest tech conference of the year, have been rounded up from key presentations. A quick summary and take-aways give some insight into where we're headed.
Keeping up with what the cool kids are doing in tech used to be the web manager’s job. Now tech is literally everybody’s business, even more now during Covid when physical contact is limited worldwide.
What is Web Summit?
Founded in 2009 by Paddy Cosgrave, David Kelly, and Daire Hickey, Web Summit is the most famous tech conference in the world. It was held in Ireland until 2016 when it moved to Portugal. The event is flocked every year with celebrity speakers and attendees from Elon Musk and Bill Gates, to Serena Williams, to Oscar award winning film directors and music producers, famous chefs like Traci Des Jardin, and many more.
This year the tech conference was tasked to put it’s eponymous web skills to the test, moving the entire event online. Whether you’ve already attended online conferences or have managed to avoid them, the set-up of Web Summit 2020 was a squeaky-clean, intuitive experience that should be a major take-away for everyone that attended.
Besides the stealth UX design, the use of chat roulette tech offered a keen, rapid-fire, speed-dating style approach to networking. An attendee of the conference James Laing, CEO of Aboard, a QR Menu platform for restaurants found the networking experience interesting:
“It was a limited couple of minutes, just enough time to explain what you do and hear about the other person’s project. I really liked the [chat roulette] experience and chatted with two people.”
James Laing, Ceo | Aboard
Highlights and insights from Web Summit 2020.
MATTEL/BARBIE: What’s next for Barbie? Mattel at 75
In anticipation of Mattel’s 75’th anniversary, Barbie was chosen to take the spotlight. Ynon Kreiz from Mattel was interviewed by Fast Company’s Steph Mehta. He used the time for a corporate-style presentation, trickling in information about the company’s booming financials, boasting the strongest quarterly growth in 10 years. In addition, Barbie has its highest growth in 20 years of any quarter across their portfolio. Kreiz quotes a strong demand for product across the toy industry, and expects the growth to continue, with online retail up by 50%.
When asked by Mehta, “what made the company think they could build on Barbie’s legacy as a blond, white woman”, Kreiz responded that the product has “significant franchise power, as design-led innovation and culturally relevant storytelling has reframed the conversation and made Barbie culturally relevant.
People are thirsty for tangible experiences, especially during Covid. That's something that toys can provide and the demand is not going away.
Barbie may have started as a one-dimensional blond, white, female doll but the success and future of the brand has come from seeing that Barbie represents much more.
CGC Take-away: Good stories, diversity, product and tangible experiences are growing in value and worthwhile investments. Brands should consider toys before merch.
MIELE: When tradition meets digital innovation [hosted by Miele]
The chic kitchen appliance manufacturer chose a low-lit and intimate studio-like setting, complete with great mic set-ups. Miele presented diverse speakers from their newly launched digital agency, Miele X. Founded this year in Amsterdam, they chose a diverse team, bringing in people across different industries and backgrounds, both internally and externally. First starting with a digital marketing unit, then brought on operations, then data experts, then finally built the e-commerce department. The agency has several skill books and proprietary internal qualifiers by which they measure and manage creative work.
A major focus during the time they had at Web Summit was a campaign they launched during lockdown in collaboration with chefs, called #chefsathome. Sending the chefs production kits to their homes, complete with lights, camera set-up, and instructions, they were able to create a world-class digital campaign in one day.
CGC take-away: Miele has taken control of their brand identity and have become production ninjas with their own agency. They have clearly invested in organization, operations, and authenticity. Take notes.
MANNA: Manna from heaven, dessert from a drone
In Ireland, Manna, a drone delivery service is already serving 10k people in a 7 kilometer (4.3 miles) radius. Their presentation was unlike the others’ at Web Summit. Bobby Healy from Manna took us around on his cell phone into the flight room and onto the tarmac, to watch a drone landing live.
Toggling between their flight screen dashboard and the live with Healy, they then loaded up a drone and set it out for flight. Switching to another live, we found ourselves watching the drone make its delivery from another cell phone. This time a runner - someone whose sole job is to have a physical visual of the drone landing. They do this with every delivery that goes out.
They’ve partnered with supermarket giant Tesco and believe that in a couple years time this will replace road-based delivery.
CGC take-away: Keep cooking. Drone food delivery is a great idea, it already works, and it’s coming our way. Start thinking of drone-friendly recipes.
Cameo: NSYNC with a fan-crazy public
Lance Bass from NSYNC and Steven Galanis, both represented their company Cameo, a breakout platform for celebs that’s taken Hollywood by storm. Originally designed for retiring football players to give them a way to connect with fans and as a channel of income, Cameo became even more popular for fans looking to connect with stars from the film and music industry. A video recorded by your favorite celebrity, addressed to you or whoever you choose is what has made Cameo famous but it’s usability and the big names on the platform are big draws.
For celebs, an easy teleprompter style dashboard makes it easy to use and the connection to fans and their special moments, enriches the experience. We have more celebrities now in the world then ever before and Lance Bass thinks it’s great.
He says “instead of going to casting agents, if the content is good, they don’t have to wait for Hollywood to start making content. Now everyone has their own orbit of fame. Some YouTube stars don’t even know who Brad Pitt is!” -Lance Bass, NSYNC & Cameo
Macro-trend celebrities are now becoming niche - there will be no more monolithic A-list celebs and this is better for everyone. Cameo represents opportunity and brings up a bigger topic about the future of work and the trend toward less active work time and more quality life time.
CGC take-away: Celeb culture is not going away, it’s growing en masse. Cameo has cracked the code on design and value for the talent industry and been able to accomplish an unusually democratic pay-off for everyone, both financially and personally.