Posted By Simon Montford on November 24, 2016
The run up to the festive season is always a busy time for event organisers and delegates alike. Peak conference season means there are so many to choose from, but in order to get the best ROI it's vital to remain laser focused. This is primarily because there are not only financial costs that need to be accounted for, such as travel and accommodation, but also intangible ones. Everything from the amount of emotional energy expended (if you don't feel exhausted after a conference, you're not doing it right), to opportunity costs - time is (or should be) your most valuable asset. Here's a look back at some of the events I attended last month, that were definitely worth expending time and energy for!
The event featured workshops and inspirational talks from high profile companies such as Spotify, Skyscanner, Rockstar and IBM. There was also an interactive area that included a video games studio, live music and street art. All activities were linked to five themes: Creativity, Engagement, Skills, Disruption and Vision. It was a showcase of the best in Scottish talent, which succeeded in its goal to inspire and challenge the next wave of digital champions. I was asked to speak about the IoT, specifically about the impending machine web aka Web 3.0. Here is my deck, and my talk will be available to view online shortly.
Much of the personal data that's harvested by all the connected devices that make up the IoT is hoarded, and often exploited, by a relatively small number of commercial organisations. As the quantity and quality of the data we share about ourselves increases, so will concern about how that data is being stored, shared and used. Making sense of all this data, while also protecting the personal privacy of end-users, is going to become a huge challenge. Add machine-to-machine interaction into the mix (there are already far more machines than people connected), and it looks like the Web is going to need a bigger boat in the form of a bigger, better, smarter web!
That being said, what would an entirely new kind of Web actually look like? Web 1.0 was entirely made up of static web pages connected by hyperlinks. Web 2.0 aka the "Social Web" emphasised user-generated content, usability, and interoperability. What is needed now is a third Web that enables both people and machines to interact seamlessly via a decentralised, democratic web. By using the blockchain to remove the need for servers, innovations such as Ethereum and IPFS could define Web 3.0 in the same way that HTTP/IP defined Web 1.0 - hence the importance of the blockchain.
Attendees of this IoT Meetup listened to three talks. The first was by James Littlejohn (Dsensor) who explained how smart contracts work. He provided a brief history of a game-changing technology called Ethereum, and this was followed by a demonstration of how smart contracts can be used to securely interact with health data via Ethereum's private blockchain.
The second speaker was Dr Dave Murray-Rust (ECA Design Informatics) who gave an introduction to blockchain technology. This was followed by a few examples of applications he and his students have developed that use the blockchain. He then gave an overview of where he thinks this fascinating new technology could take us.
Finally Fred de Haro, the founder and CEO of Pycom, explained how their newly released triple bearer network LoPy modules can be used to change the way development teams design IoT applications. You can read Fred's guest blog here to find out more about Pycom.
The talks are available to view online via Youtube: www.youtube.com/web3iot
I attended the IoT Glasgow Meetup, organised and hosted by Brian Martin. After a brief introduction to Vodafone's, soon-to-be-launched narrow band IoT standard (further details about NB-IOT can be found here), we heard talks from Jen Kantharia (Burness Paull LLP) about a new European Congress regulation known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and Peter Kinnaird (Stream Technologies).
On the 26th October I attended and spoke at the Technology and Cybercrime Conference. The event was organised and run by the Law Society of Scotland and it aimed to help raise awareness of cybercrime risks in order to provide the best possible guidance to legal professionals. I started by providing an overview of the Internet of Things, then spoke about IoT privacy and security.
I attended TechExpo which took place at 155 Bishopsgate in London on the 24th and 25th October. The venue had a warm, sophisticated, and contemporary vibe and it was conveniently located within a few minutes' walk from Liverpool Street station. It featured four theatre-style rooms, and an open plan area where attendees could hang out and network. This area was also where the expo was located featuring several augmented and virtual reality demos, an assortment of booths, and a separate section dedicated to fintech startups.
The first day of the Contextual Tech B2C track included the importance of customer experience and context in relation to mobile-first, multitouch-point interaction. Another panel covered customer engagement strategies, and data utilisation optimisation methodologies to fulfil customer needs in real-time, location-based augmented reality, privacy and security, data acquisition, consent, and protection. All very important topics, particular in light of the European Commission's plan to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals within the European Union (EU) under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). You can read what I really think about it in my opinion piece, which I wrote for The Times Legal Supplement. Read the full story here.
Day two switched to a single track format devoted exclusively to the Emerging Tech Showcase. It included talks by Seffan Sorrell about context driven AI, Paul Croft about improving people’s lives with 3D printing, but the fireside chat with Luke Robert Mason about his prosthetic prototype had to be cancelled. The highlights for me, however, were Lawrence Lundy’s talk about Blockchain-enabled convergence, Web 3.0, and the implications of fully autonomous machines. I also very much enjoyed Augustin Marty’s talks about the challenges of computer vision from a developer’s point of view. Read the full story here.
GCPNEXT was one of the largest Google developer and IT gatherings in the United Kingdom, which aimed to explore the latest developments in cloud technology. The event had a demo area, and an excellent lineup of speakers.
This event hosted thousands of senior level decision makers from over 50 countries for two days of innovation, networking and discussion. I enjoyed running into loads of friends and business acquaintances including Catherine Allen, Stefan Sabev, Gihan Munasinghe, Emma McDonald, Jonathan Marshall, as much as I did making new ones Nadezda Bernikova, Renata Pilikinaite, David Hay, Nastya Lagunova, Bjarne Christiansen, Peter Warman, and Jelle Kooistra.
Broadband World Forum is globally recognised as the meeting place for senior executives from fixed, mobile and cable operators all around the world, to congregate and discuss the future of the broadband industry.
The 3rd annual Commercial UAV Show took place on 19th and 20th October at ExCel in London. I can't believe it's been a year since I covered the previous event, and wrote "There's no business like drone business". The first thing I noticed was that the number of exhibitors and attendees appeared to be down compared to the previous year. I felt, however, that the quality of companies and delegates had increased. Last year l got the impression that many who attended were there out of curiosity. While milling around the expo floor, I came across an industry analysts with a remit to gather data and obtain market intelligence, an entrepreneur scoping out commercial opportunities, and an intern who had been dispatched on a fact-finding mission by her boss. Read the full story here.
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