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A Web Summit First Timer

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Day 1

Day one of the Web Summit kicked off with Paddy Cosgrave giving an opening speech on the very impressive looking Centre Stage. I moved from Centre to Enterprise and over to Sport – there was a lot to cram in.  One important tip I was reminded of is when data overrules popular opinion.  The Facebook Newsfeed remained in place even though the initial reaction was poor.  The decision to retain the new feature was based on the data showing that people were more active on Facebook since its introduction.

A strong theme running through the day was the place of robots in modern society, revolutionising the transport industry and changing many of our day to day tasks.

My highlight from Day one was getting to squeeze into the sports centre to see Edwin Van der Sar (one of the best goal keepers of all-time, I’m sure you’ll agree!) talk about Real Time Analytics Affecting Real Time Decisions. In sport, real time analytics can give a team the edge in multiple areas e.g. training, team selection and during the game half-time talks especially. Instead of just a pep talk players can now be shown proof of what they’re doing wrong and what they need to do in the second half.

Day 2

I returned on Day Two and spend a lot of time at the Data Stage – the most important stage of the web summit in my opinion! Big Data, data mining, data security, storage, the whole range was covered.  How data is disrupting our lives from no longer remembering telephone numbers to streaming changing the music industry forever.

Steve Angello from Swedish House Mafia didn’t seem too bothered though stating the stars in the music industry won’t be broke! Such a cool character with a clear love of the music rather than the money!  I wasn’t just there for the celebrities, I promise!

My highlight from Day 2 were the emotionally intelligent robots, who were commanded based on your facial recognition, to move away if you were angry, come closer if you were happy and others that can read your emotions as you watch a movie.

Day 3

A personal interest in health and fitness led me to the Health Tech stage on Day 3. There were some life changing technologies being discussed. Curing deafness was a major reoccurring topic.  There were new hearing aids shown that are surgically inserted into a person’s head and vibrating belts and vests that the body can adjust to and learn what message is being sent.

Back on the main stage after a quick lunch (let’s not talk about the Food Summit) I saw the author of the Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, discuss his life, certain beliefs and also that he is in the process of writing another book. An interesting character to hear at the Web Summit!

Throughout the three days I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked too at the Pitch stages (which was basically a live Dragon’s Den). I did make it to the finals on the main stage though and I had two clear favourite pitches.  Connecterra was designed to provide health info, location, and activity info for Dairy Cattle. Using Connecterra would free up farmers time and improve production. Bizimply is software for HR, it monitors timetables, clock-ins, training schedules etc. These two pitches ended up winning their Alpha and Beta categories.

I finished off day three on the main stage with a talk from Brian O’Driscoll and Rio Ferdinand about social media and how it affects famous sports stars.

My highlight from Day three was definitely seeing the breakthroughs in technology that can be put to incredible use for deaf people in particular with the vibrating vest that allows messages to be interpreted by the body.

Wow, what an overloading three days.  I learned a lot, met great people and really confirmed my career choice as a Data Analyst … for now anyway.  My next task?  To convince the boss to bring us to Portugal next year!


30 November, 2015 by Robert McElwaine

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