The most important messages of the Web Summit talks
Firstly, technology takes up half of our day (both in a good and bad way); the gap between media, fashion and technology is disappearing. I would like to stress that I am very happy about this line of progress. For ages, I have talked about the tangible relationship among tech and development of every business including the old-fashioned media houses and fashion industry, including crafts. There has been a shift in thinking about, as well as within, the media industry. Speakers from the Guardian Media Group, The Impression, and Medium agreed on importance of high quality content, how to best spread news, techniques of storytelling, concerns of their audience and of course the will to subscribe (building a valuable community).
Secondly, we – people – need to relax, open our minds, let people back into our lives and communicate/ connect/ create something new together from nothing. We should forget about quantity and focus on quality (of life). Words like mindfulness or stillness have been around for many years. I – myself – started to realise the need to stop myself from whatever it is I am doing and just breath five years ago (well, actually, it started with a promise to myself to dedicate at least five minutes a day to yoga – but that is just not happening). There is no need to introduce or explain the trend of meditation and calming down; It is enough to look around. There have never been so many yoga studios or communities which intend to help us to bring love and the ability to share back into our lives. And of course, there is the rise of applications dedicated to this area of our wellbeing too – to mention one: Calm and Bedtime Stories. Obviously, Google is in the lead in the mental health arena, “Away from the stage” program was filled with yoga, room to breathe and wellbeing sessions throughout the whole three days.
Thirdly, the growing power of AI – artificial intelligence – is gaining confidence in the field of communication with customers, from chat bots making your user experience more human to helping the person to reach a decision. As a matter of fact, I do agree with introducing AI into a business – collecting, analysing data, customer support etc. However, I am quite concerned about AI helping me with my own life or my relationships (has the time for Her arrived?). Moreover, a question is popping into my mind is can AI replace humans outside of cyberspace? We – the human race – have very quickly adopted technology into our lives, but we also need to take care of our offline lives, now more than ever. On the other hand, we learn through failing. Of course, Sophia The Robot and her brother Han The Robot were present too. Their intelligence is becoming more impressive but, not surprisingly, their appearance is still quite artificial.
Day 1 Highlights
Team, community, fake news, quality news, technology, humanity and innovation – keywords of “my” first Web Summit day. I unconsciously followed David Pemsel, The Guardian Media Group, and was pleased with the speech made by a gentleman from The Guardian, the newspaper I admire.
Some notes: The Guardian Media is launching collaboration with Google – a strategic partnership – a voice over tool. On contrary, their relation with Facebook is rather complicated. Facebook still airs too much “bad” content. The Guardian stands for quality, Facebook is about variety. Thus, there is no common ground. The traffic from Facebook to the Guardian is around 2-3 %. I would advise each and every media house to realize the jeopardy of the Facebook playground. We cannot fix humanity via tech; companies should be responsible for news they are sharing.
Day 2 Highlights
Thanks to the rise of mobile connectivity nowadays, almost everybody is online. This has a positive impact in the sense of access to information, education etc. There is also a trend of AI learning and insight into the ways of building smarter tools which can be used by everyone. The underlying value stays the same; how technology can be used as “a tool for good” (Matt Brittin, Google). Modern technology shapes our day to day lives and helps make them easier. However, we have to be careful what kind of world we build around us. We still need to have a control over what we are sharing and ensure that our shared data are protected.
One of the hottest speakers of the second day was definitely Alexander Wang who noted: “It’s all about having a unique point of view.” Alexander is currently looking at how to simplify the fashion business process. He started with collecting data which inspires further technology usage to provide better user experience. He begun to share his brands’ values with his audience and found a real brand story: “I’ve create a lifestyle brand and I want to make beautiful affordable. To destroy the boundaries and ways in which people regard luxury.” He also mentioned his intention of going “back” to sustainability and passion to discover the cultural heritage of his family in China. “Every pro has a con, thus, it takes time to move forward.”
Day 3 Highlights
The Technology and Fashion Industry. The fashion business is changing and the importance of company culture and a loyal community is increasing. Implementing online communication is now more significant than ever. Save us all the greatness of Instagram! The bias of the hail of Instagram being that a high number of followers can now get you further in life than talent. Followers over talent – this is probably not the best way to work with new social media, or we risk the Black Mirror: Nosedive becoming true?
Anyway, the key is a truthfull story, strong values and more participation from the customer both on the offline and the online levels. Participation of influencers has its own pros and cons, an influencer with a high number of followers does not secure a good revenue. The business and marketing strategy, analysis and data are actually gaining importance. Furthermore, the era of retail as we know it is probably ending, although the space is still valuable, brands have the opportunity to change customer experience, which means not only to shop, but also to build and strengthen loyalty within the industry. In other words, involvement of the community and providing a real customer experience are the main tools to reinforce loyalty and gather useful data.
Technology is deeply implemented into our day-to-day lives. It is important how we use the easy access to everything, how responsible we are when share and behaving. Huge opportunities bring many obstacles. Technology cannot save humanity but it might help us to rediscover it. Web Summit is a bridge across not only different business areas (including media, fashion, and wellbeing) but, what is more, diverse individuals. Under one roof, a variety of human beings gather with the same intentions – to connect, to learn and to discover.
Everything is connected!
Author: Veronika Ondrujova, PR v pyxis.media & Valkýra v CzechFashionCouncil.com