The Next Web Conference held annually in Amsterdam (although branching out later in the year) is one of the biggest European gathering of entrepreneurial minds and start-ups in the tech scene. This year was no different and there were appearances from many famous & soon-to-be famous techpreneurs, some really interesting new startups and even an appearance from Willem-Alexander, the new King of The Netherlands.
It kicked off with a bang and The Next Web Conference co-founder @Boris explained how there is never a set theme for the conference but rather themes tend to emerge from the featured presenters. Whilst there is still no official word on what the themes of the conference were, several became apparent to me throughout the keynotes and I will touch on these throughout…
Seven Key Themes from The Next Web Conference 2013
Quantified Self Movement & Wearable Devices
There is a lot of talk about how wearable computing will allow for frictionless data collection to build up a knowledge base around personal data. This has already been seen on a smaller scale with devices such as the Nike Fuel Band and the little known Memoto however with devices such as Google Glass and the rumoured Apple iWatch hitting the consumer market over the next year there is set to be an explosion in the popularity of wearable computer devices and as many as 100 million wearable devices sold annually by 2016. It is predicted that soon data chips and sensors will be so cheap that the cost of including them in a product becomes effectively zero, meaning you may find them in many more consumer goods than you might expect as they become like the LED clocks put into pretty much every electrical device and all white goods in the 80s and 90s.
Human/Machine Partnerships for Decision Making
Whilst artificial intelligence isn’t quite at the stage that it can be fully trusted to offer the informed judgement of a human, it can still rapidly collect lots of information and present it in a useful way so that users can interact and make the final call. In some cases these devices are expected to learn from our input in a similar fashion to the way that you can select default computer applications and settings. This should allow for much more efficient use of the deluge of data that is being collected by so many devices.
The Loyalty Revolution & Data Driven Marketing
As businesses start to collect more data about their users and integrate their various data sources there will be much more known about he consumer automatically. If you frequent visit a coffee shop in London and then you fly to New York and get a coffee in the same brand of coffee shop, they will be able to know that you are a regular customer and potentially even learn about your preferences and cater to them. This can be especially powerful in big-ticket service offerings however it will soon easily be utilised by everyone down to the new brand with just two stores.
The Power of Social Media
An important shift to understand about consumers is that your highest spending customers are no longer necessarily the most important for long-term business success. Often times your most vocal customers can have a bigger impact on your bottom line so if you can ensure that you go the extra mile in your service and then amplify their output. This trend may lead to social media CRMs that link customer data with publicly available social information so you can effectively track mentions of a brand. As an example some wineries already offer users on Instagram a more visual tour than those who are simply there for the wine tasting.
The Evolution of Social Publishing
Within the world of online publishing brands like The Huffington Post are starting to realise that the social element is just as important as the premium content. For that reason comments appear front and centre to get full attention and encourage interaction even as users engage with the content. This emphasises the need for live updating pages that don’t refresh for every interaction especially where content such as video is being presented.
Exploiting the Media Game
Ryan Holiday spoke of how easy it is to abuse the media desire for information by using sites such as HARO to get mentions in the press. In many cases it could even prove to be more beneficial than a traditional press release by acting as a Trojan horse for product advertising. To take advantage of the system you should create a story that generate fear, anger or excitement and most importantly that actually features your product as part of the story to ensure its inclusion. The media are hungry and don’t have time for fact checking in many cases. However on the other side of the equation it is important to consider whether we actually want things like this to be possible and whether we should be doing more to present and protect transparent journalism that isn’t simply based on pageviews and ad impressions.
DiSSS: A Framework for Accelerated Learning
This is Tim Ferriss’s model for accelerated learning and becoming world-class in almost anything you want to achieve. It’s important to note that he classes being world class as being within the top 5% of people in a field. This means of any 100 people trying something you would perform within the top 5, however you would still potentially suck if going up against a real professional in a field sitting within the top 1%. When applied to business this model and its weakness suggests if you are going to hit a market where you are still learning it’s important to adopt a blue ocean strategy or hit a niche market if you want to gain prominence and become a leader within your market.
Deconstruct – Take out all obstacles for first five sessions of starting anything new to give yourself the biggest chance of developing a habit.
Selection – Keep in mind the pareto principle ak.a. the 80/20 rule and attempt to focus on the 20% of things that will give you the biggest/fastest results. You can even completely remove certain elements to simplify the process.
Sequencing – If you don’t have to learn skills in a certain sequence then try to play around with the order, just because you are taught in a certain sequence doesn’t make it the right one. / Remove elements
Stakes – If you really want to succeed with something then you need to fully commit with accountability in place. Hold money with a friend or use services like Stickk to encourage long-term commitment.
A final note…
Many of the themes discussed at The Next Web Conference 2013 seem to tie into the idea of a Converged Web where data on the web is structured and integrates seamlessly with various devices, analytics platforms and personalised portals. Another way to think of this can be seen in this tweet…
— Daniel McClure(@danielmcclure) April 25, 2013
A Photographic Journey Through The Next Web Conference 2013
Visual Notes from The Next Web Conference 2013
A nice touch throughout the conference were these visual notes projected onto the main screen of the stage after every keynote summarising the discussions. I got a few photos however this slideshow from the creator is a little more comprehensive.