Internet World 2012 – conclusion

The organisers work hard to bring visitors to this show each year, with a sophisticated multimedia campaign harnessing email, snail-mail, a website, tweets and telephone canvassing. Its effectiveness is borne out by the large number of delegates who braved the wettest weather for months in order to attend.

However, there are a couple of things they could learn from the online world that would give visitors an even richer experience:

No matter how much content they are offered and how good it might be, attendees still expect a seamless user-experience. Seven presentation theatres staged a full programme of talks and lists were published for each of them, but nowhere could I find them all in one place. This made it hard work planning an itinerary, making sure there were no clashes or overlaps. Could I suggest that, in future, the organisers publish a spreadsheet listing the talks in all seven theatres, to enable easy planning? Ideally, it could be downloaded and printed out, too.

Good crowd, despite the April showers

Good crowd, despite the April showers

As I am cursed with a memory like a sieve, I take an old-fashioned ruled notepad and pen to every seminar. I struggle to scribble down salient facts in some of the more content-rich presentations and miss the odd vital detail, particularly if the speaker talks faster than I can write. There is also a direct relationship between the speed I write and the illegibility of my notes, which are often a challenge to decipher, so I have a second request for the show’s organisers: Could they please insist that all talks are backed up with either a hard or soft copy? Then I could relax and enjoy the experience and everyone could stop taking photos of the screen with their iPhones and concentrate on their Twitter accounts.

Mobile evolution

This keynote, by Google’s Ian Carrington, described how three trends define the future: Social, Local and Commerce (SoLoCo). As you would expect from Google, this session was strewn with data, much of which I will spare you.

Smartphone sales overtook PCs in 2011, as tablet sales are expected to do within three years, so it is hardly surprising that a growing number of search queries are made from mobile devices. These account for 16% of retail searches, 19% of travel and 19% of entertainment. 20% of all YouTube video views are now on mobile devices and 38% of tablet owners use them more than their TVs.

28% of mobile device users check their social networks before getting out of bed in the morning and 57% talk more online than in real life, so the New York Times might have been justified in declaring the death of conversation.

  • 28% of UK smartphone users have made online purchases from them;
  • 49% of Paddy Power’s bets are placed from mobile devices;
  • 23% of UK businesses have a mobile-optimised site.

Ian made an interesting point, recommending businesses make their websites in HTML5 rather than producing an app. This ensures compatibility with all mobile devices and operating platforms, in addition to the fact that 90% of Apps are deleted within 30 days. If you are not sure how your website looks on a mobile, take a look at GetMo.

Networking, between seminars

Networking, between seminars

Rick Osterloh, of Skype, gave some more interesting insights into the changing mobile ecosystem, including these:

  • Skype is now part of MicroSoft and there there is more consolidation to come;
  • 50% of all Skype calls are now video;
  • LTE, the next generation of broadband access will change everything, offering download times faster than browsers can render;
  • Mobile phone networks are going to have to rethink their call-pricing structures to be competitive with online services;
  • Networks need to invest in infrastructure to cope with increasing demand due to faster speeds, more devices, more apps and lower costs;
  • The cloud offers the tantalising prospect of a single telephone number, accessible from any device.

Personal 2.0

Those of us who are anxious about the amount of personal data available online are not going to enjoy what the future holds. There is going to be a whole new level of personalisation, where context is everything and our online experience will be governed by emotional, social, environmental and external factors. The content we are delivered will depend on our mood, our company, our location, the time of day, day of the week and conditions such as the weather and the economy. Will the richness of this experience compensate for the sacrifice of privacy? Businesses looking to benefit from this environment will need to upgrade their content management systems to a unified platform for email, mobile, social and ecommerce purposes. They will need to handle contextual content, give easy access to multiple data sources and web services, and to be compatible with all mobile platforms and devices.

Web 3.0

This is shorthand for the invisible, ubiquitous, personal internet, which is already evolving in the search labs at Google, Microsoft et al. A key feature of this environment promises to be the automatic creation and consumption of information. For instance, when you are on a car trip, data from your location-aware mobile devices may populate an online travel database, informing users of average speeds and delays. Web 3.0 is enabled by technology such as GPS, NFC and RFID linking the physical world to cloud-based online services. The cloud because it is reliable, fast, scalable, ubiquitous, low-cost and easy to operate.

Conclusion

I enjoyed my visit to the show and learned a lot from a range of authoritative and engaging speakers (you can find the first part of my review here). I recommend it to anyone with an interest. Attendance is free, providing you pre-register, as is attendance at the seminars, so it is a cheap day out of the office at the very least. I would like to thank the organisers (UBM) for their efforts, assure them that my minor criticisms are intended to be constructive, and wish them the best of luck with next year’s show.

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