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What is the Future of Tech? EDGEncy Takeaways From the Web Summit ‘21

This year the EDGEncy team joined the biggest tech conference in the world. Web Summit is the place for us to expand our network, look for new opportunities and discover new technology to serve our clients better. As we focus on helping tech companies grow, it's an excellent place to discover what is happening in the industry.

The week was amazingly intensive, starting from presentations and workshops early in the morning and ending with networking events up to late at night. It’s fascinating to learn about the trends in tech from the biggest names in the industry and connect with the main industry movers over networking drinks. Talks from the marketing experts didn’t come as a big surprise - a sign that our team is moving with the trends together with the leaders.

We were especially curious to discover new startups - precisely the whole 1250 of them! Web Summit featured creative, tech-savvy solutions for the most diverse issues of our society. Whether the issue is energy supply in remote communities or engaging your remote workforce - tech innovators got it covered. Here are several more insights from the conference.

Societal Impact is Above Exponential Growth

Web Summit kicked off with a keynote speech by Frances Haugen - a Facebook whistleblower. She disclosed tens of thousands of documents about Facebook’s policies of prioritizing engagement over its users' safety. As an example, the network favors extreme, unrest-provoking content, hence helping further destabilization of the situation in the world’s most fragile places. Although the tech giant hasn’t shown any desire to change its policies yet, the involvement of policymakers in the situation will hopefully facilitate the creation of regulations that will make the internet a safer place.

The leitmotif of societal impact above growth was a leitmotif in many of the talks. That would be difficult to imagine in tech events of 5 years ago when the key focus for most was exponential growth and the fast track to unicorn status. The tech industry has matured to the point when simply making tech that works and gets used is no longer enough. Now tech leaders need to take a broader view and think about the impact of their technology.

In our opinion, that’s a positive development. Lifting the pressure from founders to become a unicorn as the end goal is likely to empower startup founders to focus on building a purpose-driven company, without having to compromise for the sake of growth. Further, introducing policies that would protect the users can help to build a safer internet of the future.

Garry Kasparov preseting during the Web Summit.

Marketing of the Future is Less About Growth Hacks and More About your Brand Mission

This marketing insight builds upon the previous one. The conversation on digital marketing a few years ago was focusing largely on experimentation to find this magic ROI-producing platform or ad set. Marketers of the future still need to experiment (and fail!) a lot, the focus is now more on the holistic marketing approach. Meaning, that branding, company purpose, and mission become more important than ever before. In 2022, a marketer will need to be as data-savvy as ever, but the numbers won't be looked at in isolation. Instead, they would need to align to create a coherent picture to help draw a long-term strategy from.

This comes back to the matter of creating impactful technology. As marketers heavily rely on big tech to advertise, automate and integrate, the changes in privacy and data distribution are affecting us strongly. But at EDGEncy we see it as a positive transformation. We are hopeful to see the world of digital marketing and advertising becoming less polluted, more honest, customer-centered, and human. And Web Summit has proved to us that we are not alone in this thinking.

Online will Never Fully Substitute Offline

The last insight from the Web Summit is that despite all the digital transformation and innovation of the past 2 years, offline is still as important as ever. There is no technology yet which would fully substitute good old random chaotic in-person networking. There is this aspect of randomness and spontaneous serendipity of connection that cannot be replicated online.

Furthermore, there is an increased understanding in the tech world that there isn't much need to switch every single aspect of our lives to online. Instead, there is an increased focus on developing hybrid solutions - technology, which would facilitate connection with real life spaces or people. Web Summit with its 42 000 attendees proved - we are all obsessed with the metaverse - but we don't want to fully move in there just yet!