October 27, 2011

My Web 2.0 Summit Take Aways

So I'm back home now from Web 2.0 Summit but my head is still full of thoughts from attending the conference. This year, like last year, the conference has been a great exposure to an amazing number of different opinions and thoughts from various leaders in the industry.

Mobile is Still Only Getting Started

Mary Meeker did her presentation and again it was mind blowing. The biggest take away is how still in its infancy the smartphone mobile space is. The size of the market is huge; there are over 5.6 B devices out in the world and there are around 835 M smartphones out there now. Another big data point is that it is projected that by 2015 1 B devices will be shipped that year, up from 450 M this year. Mobile usage is ramping up fast. The big sites (Pandora, Twitter, Facebook) are showing increases in traffic from 33% to 60% and climbing. 

Mobile is not a website, it's a mindset. Mobile is transforming commerce; it's transforming how people buy. Mobile is the what and the when available as it happens. It's all real time information and it's how an organisation can successfully leverage that real time information that will make a difference to it being the player of tomorrow. It's engaging users through gamification. It's allowing people to share and discover information in new ways. With tongue in cheek she revisited the hierarchy of needs from Maslow. The point to make is that she really thinks and believes from the data she looks at that Mobile is a game changer. Our smartphone might just be the brain extension we have all been looking for!

Design is So on the Radar of Everyone

Last but not least regarding Mary's presentation were the slides on Design, or the importance of Design. It's amazing how mainstream and how much Design is on the radar of people these days. This is the influence Steve Jobs will leave us. He has helped transform a whole industry from being technology centered to being design aware. There is a famous saying that states 'Design is going to be to the next 25 years what the last 25 were to technology'. I think we're starting this recognition phase that Design matters ... a lot!

Data and Analytics

Data in now synonymous with big opportunities. Lots of companies are created on top of Data Science and Data Science teams. Google I would say started the ball rolling by hinting several years ago that the information it had about what is being searched and how many times is just as big of an opportunity as the search results themselves. Companies are collecting data from their business activities and now they are turning to exploiting this data by offering new and better services or creating separate revenue streams. It's quite interesting to see for example what the people at bit.ly and go here for Hilary Mason's presentation, and linkedin can infer from their data and in return help their business.

Our social graph, what we share and what we do is worth gold nowadays. From there it's easy to see why so much data crunching is necessary and so potentially lucrative. 

Twitter the Dot Connector

Twitter on its own is a huge source of data. It's the conversation going at any time about anything worldwide. In this respect Twitter might just be the dot connector. There are many ways to look at the Twitter information that can be useful for numerous businesses out there. I invite you to look at Bluefin Labs for some very interesting connections of Twitter and TV watching habits and preferences of the audience. In this case Twitter is the conduit between impressions (ads on TV and shows) and expressions about them.  Here is the project that started it all.

Mapping a layer of meta data on the Twitter stream can unlock some real valuable information to correlate what is going on in your world!


There was a very interesting presentation by Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. She drove the point that baking privacy in our products is actually providing more freedom. She calls this privacy by Design. While we all talk about the importance of privacy, I agree with her - I really don't think we have it high on our priority list when creating products. It's like security; it's an afterthought in the process. The economics of putting user privacy over sexy use cases is a difficult one to make from a business goal standpoint.

What is going to take for us to take this seriously?

Wrapping It Up

As people creating software experiences and products we have to really dig the importance of mobile and combine it with data to create the experiences of tomorrow. We have to become immersed in the mobile mindset and become really good at observing our users to infer new ways to access the information they need. A strong data understanding is required. A strong culture of mining the data to always offer better information is the way Google does it, and now many others. 

Mobile is the medium and an unstoppable train. Data is the new R (for research) in R&D departments of product companies. And both mobile and data are at the service of a great user experience.


Dan M said...

I totally hear you about Mobile. We heard the same thing at SenchaCon. There was an awesome graph in the keynote that I wish I could post a link to, but I can't find it anywhere.

It mapped the volume of sales of desktop pcs, laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones over the past 2 years or so, and it was startling: Desktops were more or less a flat line along the bottom, and everything else was growing like crazy.

The point wasn't just about how quickly mobile has taken off, but also about diversity. The range of things with a web browser has never been so vast!

Frederic Boulanger said...

Indeed Dan - just this morning I was looking at browser stats and how much web access is no longer a desktop thing is mind bungling.

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