Dianne at Web Summit 2014 in Dublin

Dianne at Web Summit 2014 in Dublin – I have to admit, a ticket to the ‘Cannes of the Tech World’ in Europe (thanks Dan Mitchell) for th…

Dianne at Web Summit 2014 in Dublin – I have to admit, a ticket to the ‘Cannes of the Tech World’ in Europe (thanks Dan Mitchell) for this comparison, think it sums it up really well), has been on my Christmas-came-early-list for years. It was my chance to check out what’s new in the technology world in order to understand my candidates better and be more consultative with my clients.

Having attending the summit, and after speaking to so many people there, I can tell you one thing – it was all so overwhelming. In a positive way, of course.

There I was, trying to grasp it all, wishing I could clone myself so that I could attend more. Here are the facts and figures to give you some perspective of how BIG this year’s summit was:

  • It has grown from 500 people in 2010 to over 20,000 from 109 different countries in 2014!
  • 614 speakers (yes, it was intense).
  • Over 2000 start-ups exhibited over the course of 3 days! (they rocked the space).
  • Around 700 investors were present.
  • 82,000 cups of coffee kept us all going!

One thing, as a girl working in the tech world, that I would love to see is a massive increase in the number of women presenting. According to, Denise Calnan, just 15% of the speakers were women. More around the ‘women in tech’ topic later.

I know there has been lots of coverage on it already by those who earn living from writing about it all much better than I do  (on top of all those 120,000+ tweets related to #WebSummit2014).  So will try and keep my overview of my first time experience at the Web Summit as short and sweet as possible. My scribbles on my experience at the Web Summit will be posted here over the next few weeks so watch this space. I know I’m a bit delayed with it, but the topics remain relevant to all the current digital marketeers out there.

What I loved the most about the summit was the vibe – the energy that filled the whole space, the positvity in everyone’s eyes, and the willingness to meet and mingle with everyone. There I was, on my way to the summit from the hotel on day one, sharing a cab with FinTech start-up guys from Italy, am entrepreneur from Moscow, and with a Brazilian digital media law student living in Lisbon (she turned out to me my partner-in-crime throughout the whole festival – check her out here (Gina Strauch Serafim) if you ever need any legal advice.   Please note: the following aren’t direct quotes, rather summaries of what was discussed and how I understood it all, in my own words. Hopefully I will not be breaching any copyright laws here!

On my very first day of my very first visit to the Web Summit, I managed to catch a presentation by a woman, who runs the technical side of things at what we know as one of today’s most forward-looking powerhouses in technology. Anna Patterson, VP of Engineering at Google, took the stage to talk about her decisions when hiring someone, about her approach to pair-programming and about encouraging change.

On making changes, and on driving new ways of doing things: sometimes developers get ‘married to the code’, but when it’s time to encourage change, it’s best to divorce from that code, and start from scratch. Her thoughts on pair-programming: while sometimes she thinks this works, she also believes that coding is sometimes an individual mission. So it could be better to try solve those problems on your own first. And then have someone review it all, suggest and advise, instead of having someone check over your shoulder at all times so to speak. But there are pros and cons to both.

Programmatic conversations – hot topic throughout the summit. Proof can be found from a recent article by our friends at the Drum. Piece by Natalie Mortimer – 

Technology today can enable us to create a joined-up conversation, allowing advertisers to know where you’ve been before and where you are going next. But it shouldn’t be creepy and privacy shouldn’t be a concern for the consumers.  Like Justin Cooke (CEO of POSSIBLE Worldwide -) mentioned – brands shouldn’t face a situation like when Target knew a teen was pregnant before her parents did.

In the words on Perry Valkenburg (President of TBWA Europe) – ‘we, as an industry, need to communicate and educate better. Be more transparent about what data we are collecting and what’s done with it exactly.’

Display advertising will continue to face challenges when it comes to accuracy. Eric Salama (CEO at Kantar Group) – ‘you don’t have accuracy in the mobile space like we have on established desktop; mobiles ran out of battery; data research gets disconnected.

That’s something brands need to be aware of – 40% of people begin browsing on one device, but reach an action point on another (Erik Johnson from Facebook and Instagram). So it’s not the challenge of how data gets collected (technology is there!), but what is collected and from where and when.

And in regards to who owns this data – ‘it’s not a matter of the ownership per se, it’s about how brands/agencies collect it and getting the permission from the consumers. There is a need to build an infrastructure for partnerships, not about investing into how much data gets collected.’

As Perry Valkenburg says, technology isn’t a problem, it’s there and powering ‘a new form of advertising’ as it enables advertisers to build more trustworthy relationships with consumers.So it’s really about brands adopting it fast enough.

Another topic that got a lot of attention… drum roll…Big Data….more about it in my next blog post.

If you want to get more insights about the topics mentioned so far, or what went down at the Summit or what’s the night life like in Dublin, connect with me. And for update on what’s happening on the tech job market.

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