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How Web Summit changed my mind-set

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After all the build up and anticipation, when I found out I’d won the DLG Digital competition and was actually going to Web Summit, it took a little while to sink in. And then it suddenly dawned on me just how much preparation I needed to do. In just ten days, I was flying off to the biggest digital conference in the world!

Thinking ahead as to how Chris and I were going to share things with the guys in back the office, we started building prototypes to collate tweets and Instagram posts as well as live streaming talks to make sure I fulfilled my promise of sharing what we learned with everyone.

I was excited about meeting like-minded people who had a common interest, and wanted to learn something really cool that we could bring back and implement here. Something that the whole digital team would find useful.

And, being a bit of a sucker for a freebie, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some Web Summit merchandise. We got some free t-shirts on the first day and I managed to snag myself some socks, too. Result!

I was staggered by the sheer size of the Summit.

I’ve never been to Lisbon before, so as soon as I stepped out of the airport I was enveloped into this whole new world. The Web Summit had completely taken over the entire city, with signs promoting it, everyone talking about it. It was crazy.

The venue itself was absolutely massive. There were so many people, so much going on. I saw loads of brands I recognised, plenty of new start-ups and some really creative stands. One that caught my eye was made out of an LED screen with code flying about all over it.

Even though it was huge, the event felt very open and relaxed. It was as though social conventions had gone out the window – you could just walk up to anyone and strike up conversation. We went to a wide range of talks; stand ups, watched some fascinating heated debates and met so many interesting people.

The things that really stood out to me were to do with connected homes, such as flood detectors – they’ll let you know if the water’s been running for too long, potentially saving you from expensive home repairs. There’s so much that is relevant to our industry, products we could endorse, perhaps.

Unsurprisingly, drones were a hot topic at the summit. I heard lots of very interesting talks about drone safety, how can we stop them crashing into helicopters and small planes, how can we insure them, etc. Again, so relevant to us.

There was a lot of discussion around autonomous car technology, too: how it can be done, and whether it should be done, even.

Even if you work within a big company, you can seriously affect change, simply by having the right kind of mentality.

But the talks that had the biggest impression on me were from people who have built a successful start-up. It’s fascinating to hear someone tell you the risks they took to get where they are today.

It made me think that even if you work within a big company, you can seriously affect change, simply by having the right kind of mentality.

I learnt that anything technological can be made cool. People tend to think that insurance is boring, but we can do some really interesting things with it. It’s essential to everyone’s lives, so why not make it more fun?

From connected homes, houses that manage themselves, automated cars, drones and robots, the Web Summit made me realise that technological change is actually happening right now, all around us.

And here at DLG Digital we’re in a great position to embrace that change.

It’s important to keep looking for opportunities to improve the way we do things, change mind-sets and question why something is done a certain way. We should all push back more and think of the bigger picture.

The entrepreneurs I saw don’t muck about. They own it, run with it and make positive change. That was a big lesson for me.

If I’m given the opportunity to go to Web Summit again this year, I would love to, but I think if there’s another DLG Digital competition I’ll step back and give someone else the chance to experience it.