Highlights of the 2018 Web Summit

12 Nov 20184 minutes read

Etch Director Katie Street talks about her key takeaways from the Web Summit 2018 in Lisbon, Europe's largest tech event.

The Web Summit hosted in Lisbon last week is Europe’s largest tech event and is often referred to as the best technology conference on the planet. With an impressive 70,000 people attending, this year’s event was busier than ever – and for the first time I was lucky enough to be part of it!

Myself and Seth Campbell from Big Radical attended as guests as one of the partners in the Etch Network - Solid State Group. This colossal event was set over 4 large pavilions and a HUGE main stage, and every hall was buzzing with tech start-ups and giants from all over the globe. From Microsoft, Google and IBM to countries trying to show, attract and build their own digital capabilities, it was a huge event to navigate. It certainly lived up to my expectations as one of the largest tech conferences in the world!

After a very busy week of attending talks, meeting amazing and inspirational digital leaders and maybe having a few too many vinos at the Night Summits, here are my key learnings and highlights…

Utilise technology to develop more meaningful experiences

This is probably my biggest takeaway and everything I delve into below really supports this overarching strategy. There are now so many technologies available to us, and the companies that are leading the way, whether a small start-up or huge corporate are building technical ecosystems that enable them to learn and develop and have more meaningful digital strategies, that truly engage and help their audience. Everything we do should still be customer focussed, so keep this as your goal and research and utilise technologies that enable you to learn more about your customers and explore technologies that will make their lives easier.

Block chain

Not just for Crypto Currencies! There has been a lot of noise about Blockchain and having worked in the industry for over 10 years, it’s been really interesting to see the rise of this technology. Famed for its ability to build crypto currencies, I personally believe the future of blockchain will spread and benefit companies in many more ways moving forwards. Some of the new apps and companies are using blockchain to track goods, capture data and even power robots (like Sophia the Robot whom I was lucky enough to see in the flesh - or robot flesh) by creating ecosystems of data. Hanson Robotics are now using Blockchain to build a crowd of independent contributors of AI models to learn from the data and develop the robot’s skills by learning from more data sources. Making them even more intelligent! I’m not sure if I am excited or scared by this concept, but what was great was to see how Blockchain can be used to crowdsource data to drive better outcomes.


With data now being such a huge part of us understanding our digital landscapes, regulation (we now all know about GDPR) and keeping the digital landscape safe for children was a huge topic across the conference.

That was a common theme with United Nations’ Secretary General António Guterres warned in a speech last Monday night that "the weaponization of artificial intelligence is a serious danger."
This is a small overview of some of the things I personally found interesting, and were subjects pulled through lots of talks across the four day conference. It was an amazing experience and it’s easy to see why tens of thousands of people flock to Web Summit every year. If you missed it this year, then it’s definitely one to add to the calendar for 2019.

Between the fantastic speakers and the people that I had the opportunity to meet, it has definitely inspired me and I’m looking forward to sharing my insights with our Etch teams so they can pass on learnings to our clients.

My colleague Seth from Big Radical also attended the summit. Take a look at his insights and thoughts on the key trends from the event here.