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Truth And The Demise Of The Keyboard – A Review Of Dublin Tech Summit

Four short months after the Web Summit debuted in Lisbon, the Dublin Tech Summit rolled into the Convention Centre on the 15th and 16th of February. While it is not a replacement for the Web Summit, it drew in an impressive 10,000 attendees on its first incarnation, impressive stuff, and proof positive of the burgeoning tech and investment scene in Dublin.

The conference focussed on eight areas including FinTech, MedTech and Fashion.  Two areas of focus for me were the Internet of Things and the Marketing stages (it was a work trip after all!).  Three clear themes emerged:

  1. Truth on the free internet
  2. Voice replaces keyboards
  3. Failing at engagement

Truth on the free internet

This theme came up over and over again in the dark shadow of the current US presidency. Regardless of the subject matter on the stage, speakers kept coming back to the idea of Truth. Stephen O’Leary of Olytico lamented that pressures on online journalists to be first to break news lead them to ignore the basics of journalism and not checking their sources. Jared Grusd, CEO of Huffington Post, championed citizen journalism, stating that there are larger platforms for individuals to get published on. Overall, there seems to be a slow realisation within the tech and marketing community that a fully ad-funded internet doesn’t seem to be enough to maintain the traditional journalistic institutions that uphold our democracies.

Voice replaces keyboards

Mindshare’s Global Chief Digital and Strategy Officer Norm Johnston took the stage on the 15th, and discussed the next wave of digital disruption being the internet of things, and in particular how connected devices are moving on in form and function. Johnston noted that 55% of 18-34s in the US use voice search, and that 95% of new connected devices don’t actually have keyboards! The fastest growing connected device is the car. Steve Hegenderfer of BlueTooth showed how the phone is going to be the centre of connected objects and that ‘meshes’ of Bluetooth connections will make sure that all of our devices speak to each other. The technology is there, it’s waiting for the people to catch up now!

Failing at Engagement

I was shocked by numerous talks that aimed at telling us various ‘techniques’ of how to ‘engage’ our consumers. I personally thought that this conversation had wrapped up a number of years ago with the advent of content marketing. Brand need to give authentic and meaningful experiences in return for people’s attention. I thought this was in the mainstream?  But yet there were numerous talks about techniques to capture audience in content publishing (such as times of day to post, number of posts per day, etc). In my experience, these approaches are redundant if the user doesn’t care about what you are talking about or what you represent.  Keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk bucked this trend, noting that sometimes marketers are best advised to take a step back and step into a consumers shoes and listen to the messages that are going out. Are they meaningful, do they care? That is what the most successful brands do.