Web Summit 2022 Insights: technology is for everyone!

Learnings, experiences and reflections on Web Summit 2022

Greg Lopes
Greg Lopes

UX/UI Manager

web summit

This is my first Web Summit, and what I will take away with me from this event and share here with you: important learnings, experiences, and reflections about the real and digital world; what people are looking for and what brands are bringing.

The Web Summit is the largest technology and innovation event in the world, bringing together 71 thousand people from over 160 different countries, more than 1000 speakers, 2300 startups, 1000 investors and with 42% participation of women, it took place at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal between November 1st and 4th.

How was it to be there? Incredible!

web summit

Analyzing and pointing out the sticking points: overall, the experience could have been better.

The participants faced huge lines to get in every day. The same happened for eating and going to the restrooms (there were few units and they were always dirty). The signage was very poor and there was no one to help, it was a real "get around to find what you need". The chairs were very close together (very close indeed!). The forecast was for rain and nothing was done to protect the people in line at the entrance, besides this, part of the food trucks were out in the open, which made it difficult to buy food and, consequently, made the covered areas even more crowded.

One cool thing about the organization was the event app. It helped a lot to navigate between talks, watch the talks, connect with people, schedule meetings. It is by far the best event app I have seen at events.

Well, let's get down to business.

Closing of the Web Summit 2022 with the President of Portugal

The opening speech with the Portuguese economy minister and the closing one with the wonderful Portuguese president, position the country regarding attracting startups and investors, without leaving aside the concerns about the environment, local development, and education.

Good examples of Portugal's actions are, besides the Web Summit event itself, the change in startup laws, creating the stock options program - a 90 million euro package to support 3 thousand startups over 4 years - the incubator program spread in Portuguese universities, the strong incentive to research in universities and colleges. All this led the European country to be chosen as the headquarters of the European Union's startup agency.

Portugal has a clear vision of what it wants, and has well structured how to build it: encouraging and attracting creative and intellectual capital to generate wealth, and using these results to advance social agendas.

A fine example!

president portugal web summit

Technology plays a fundamental role in cultural change, not only in companies, but mainly in society as a whole. Not only because of the technology itself, but because it expands human capabilities and allows us to create completely new worlds - which is a paradox, since new does not necessarily mean better.

"Oh, Greg! I thought the event was about technology and business but you only talked about politics!"

Yes, that's right! The event is about digital business, however, there was a lot of politics: There was the Ukrainian Minister asking for help for the community, there was a talk about how data helps governments to make decisions, there was a discussion about ethics in the use of data and AI, there was a discussion about media regulation, ways to control the dissemination of hateful, fantastical and anti-science messages, questions about how Big Techs should act and prioritize features and products that help in this journey - to make the internet a safer place and prevent it from becoming a tool only for manipulation - many talks and questions about the automation of human work, the use of AI and the ethics needed for this.

Take a look at the talk "Preserving humanity's most important information: then and now" by Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and Marta Belcher of the File Coin Foundation.

Who said that you can do business and technology without doing politics?

Tomorrow's Internet

"We have a latent importance of maintaining trust and some level of governance over information"

Without a doubt, the topic of the moment is the metaverse.

At the Web Summit, this vision was shown in a simpler way than the idea of a digital universe (like the Matrix) and more as a sum of applications, devices, screen types and, mainly, the governance of it all, to break the barriers and result in a really good and immersive experience.

The metaverse is already a reality that exists, and you've probably been there in games, in apps, with augmented reality, and with virtual reality. Ikea, Nike, Sony, among others, are companies that already use these technologies to sell products both in the virtual and the physical world - and the real obstacle is there: breaking the boundaries of the digital and physical worlds.

In fact, phygital is the way!

And there are still many questions to be answered on this topic:

  • How to make the switch from physical to virtual well done?
  • How to scale the technological infrastructure for this?
  • What does the experience look like along the way?
  • The metaverse has an infrastructure problem, how are we going to support the volume of this?
  • Think about the complete experience: what is the physical location of the access?
  • Is it safe? And is it healthy mentally, physically?
  • How to do this without further destroying the world with extra energy consumption?
  • What about rules, laws, and ethics?
  • Is there a clear opportunity to sell in both universes and allow customization and evolution in the metaverse?
  • What can turn into a sale in the physical: how to support in the real world and in the metaverse simultaneously?
  • What channels exist in the metaverse?

Anyway, my ears are perked up to seek answers to at least some of these questions, after all, I believe and see great business opportunity in them.

Tim Berners-Lee Web Summit

Sir Tim Berners-Lee - the creator of the Internet

The inventor of the Internet brought some interesting insights into the so-called Web3 (Web3 is an idea for a new interaction of the World Wide Web, based on blockchain technology, which allows transparent sharing of information and saving of tokens, with no central points of control).

"Web3 will be built on top of web2, an evolution rather than something totally new"

In discussions about web-free, they brought up the possibility of the metaverse being broader and more inclusive, after all, if the metaverse is a digital world, no one can be left out of it.

The communities of the future

Everything is an ecosystem, nothing is isolated anymore, everyone is a Maker and a User of the system, and ecosystems are formed and maintained by the idea of community.

Technology and innovation are ultimately about community, just as was the purpose of the internet created by Berners-Lee. The digital transformation of markets and societies follow the same purpose, and also the same challenges.

In the lecture Ayo Tometi, founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, she tells how the movement was structured and grew thanks to people, who in addition to their willingness to participate and dedicate themselves to fight, contributed their specific knowledge, such as designers, developers, lawyers, and it was this, plus the connectivity of social networks that made the movement flourish.

"Black people have been fighting since they were kidnapped from Africa and brought to other parts of the world. We have always done everything we can to fight for our freedom. We recognize that it's not just about the tools, but about the voices and the people who have been moved by them."

And speaking of communities, the Brazilian community is amazing and respected, it was the 3rd largest delegation at the event, behind only the UK and Germany.

Brazil is a model when it comes to digital innovation.

The Brazilian highlights connect very closely with Brian Collins' talk, "Building a better futures at scale":

"Balancing intentional and unintentional activities, logic and creativity, reason and emotional to find, prioritize and develop products that leverage business and make our lives a little lighter and happier."

Our country has many brilliant minds and fantastic researchers, we have great professionals working at all levels in all markets, Brazil is part of the world's elite in innovation and technology. The Brazilian stand was the most crowded, full of people wanting to do business with Brazilian companies.

I think the most charming thing is the capacity of Brazilians to adapt and deliver value in any scenario just like Brian Collins said: light and simple.

Many of the ways of the Internet are being dictated by us - Brazilians.

Brazil at the Web Summit

And it's nice to see diversity being addressed so well, it brings up issues that are normally discussed, the organization focuses on empowering minority groups, we had 42% women, many startups in partnership with the Black Innovation Alliance.

KondZilla spoke and captured the Web Summit audience, just as he has done with his gigantic audience that consumes his content. A boy from the slum who, by having the opportunity to study, changed the course of his life and was able to see new horizons (to a lesser extent, this writer went through the same process). He addressed issues that I have always fought for:

Inclusion and access to opportunities for the poorest, for black people, and for women. And as this, it generates an incredibly powerful result throughout the industry - bringing different solutions - and also in society, as a positive wave, changing traditional structures.

When a person who would not have access to education gets it, it impacts not only their life, but the lives of everyone around them. That positive impact resonates for many, many miles.

Innovation is made, first of all, with access and opportunities, and from there, the vision, courage, daring, and execution capacity of those who normally do not have access, make a lot of difference.

"It was a big challenge. I grew up hearing that it wasn't possible. Poor community didn't speak English."

This is how KondZilla opened his talk, in English, on the main stage of the largest technological innovation event in the world.

Do you know how he ended this lecture? A standing ovation.

KondZilla at Web Summit

This diverse Brazil, open to dialog, which encourages people to study and follow their own paths, is the Brazil I want. I saw this Brazil being applauded - how proud I was!

From generation to generation

Generation Z is hyperconnected. For the so-called digital natives, the world only exists in one way: phygital. They know how to differentiate good content from bad, have reliable sources, and consume everything in a practical, direct, and unpolished way.

This generation is changing concepts, and some companies are doing very well for understanding this before others. Listening to Donald Tang VP of Shein it is clear that their operating model is continuous and integrated

"an on-demand engagement company"

With technology + the arrival of this generation to the protagonism of work and consumption, things are changing much faster, which forces companies to invest even more in quantitative and qualitative research and design. For this, having a structure that adapts easily is the only way to respond with the necessary speed.

This generation still has another remarkable characteristic: they think about sustainability in a more comprehensive way, preferring products that last, are sustainable and have lower costs, after all, when buying something expensive the gains are higher and consume more of the planet. In the box Climatech: a trillion dollar opportunity with Nick de la Forge, Sethe Bannon, and Yasir Khan, which explored the investments in this segment by some of the largest venture capital funds, it is clear how everyone is trying to mold themselves to this new generation.

This is the generation of transparency, speed, mobility, and concern for the environment.

Web Summit

Web Summit 2022: The Event as a Whole

The protagonism of the Web Summit were the startups with pure fun and a lot of learning. They change every day, we saw 2300 of them throughout the days and from there you can get a good measure of where the researching minds are looking at.

I realized that there has been a shift in focus on the profile that big companies and investors put money into, and also on how startups use that money.

A while ago, everyone wanted the big, scalable startups, and so they used the money raised to leverage. Today, money looks for those who solve a specific part of the problem brilliantly, with a great experience that deeply understands the pains and opportunities found there.

The main subjects in the young companies were health, AI and data in fighting diseases, environment, remote work, games, no-code/low-code for data and for e-commerce, robotics, renewable energy and carbon offsetting.

Definitely, sustainability and mental health were the hottest topics, everybody debating and acting on it:

"if you don't think about the health of the planet and your employee, you will be out of the market soon"

Conclusions about Web Summit 2022

Data is being used for everything

From sports to governments, wars, social causes and products. Data and artificial intelligence to process more data and help generate intelligence to increase the assertiveness of solutions and improve the user experience.

Culture is everything

The quest to build and maintain a strong culture that retains talent and focuses on positive customer, user, and employee experience, the so-called HX (human experience) - there is still plenty of room for the discipline to grow.

There is a lot of design work to be done

Governance of experiences in the products so that the sum of everything makes sense and the experiences are good, immersive, transitioning fluidly between worlds and mostly human.

Digital transformation has reached small and medium enterprises

This opens up new opportunities, as those that have gone digital need to find digital efficiency, eliminating the fear and insecurity of the mass of employees who are not used to this innovation moving at the speed of light.

Everyone is chasing better sources of energy, money, talent and knowledge

Prioritizing things that are more durable, adaptable and recyclable, and, of course, making up for what can't be avoided.

We need to increase the positive, social and ecological impact, like in business the much talked about ESG - that fits within one economic concept, stakeholder capitalism: that the company creates value for all stakeholders, employees, shareholders, the environment, and the entire society, through high efficiency, low waste, good profit and value distribution, and the constant search for ecological solutions.

Portugal has been teaching us a lesson in this. Complementing with the words of Klaus Schwab:

"But to uphold the principles of stakeholder capitalism, companies will need new metrics.

For starters, a new measure of shared value creation should include environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals as a complement to standard financial metrics.

Fortunately, an initiative to develop a new standard in this regard is already underway, with the support of the 'Big Four' accounting firms and led by International Business Council president, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan."

In conclusion:

"Innovation is not an idea, it is a process."


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