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  • Writer's pictureDavid Adams

The world’s premier tech conference, Web Summit 2022: Where do we go from here? (Part 1)

As I find myself settling down to a frothy Super Bock on my way back from the most highly-attended trade show I’ve ever had the privilege of attending, I have another opportunity to reflect on the event and consider: what was the message, what do the organisers want us to go away with, and where are we at as an industry?


With 70,000 attendees representing 160 countries, the presence of over 2,000 journalists and more than 1,000 individuals speaking, it seems only prudent to focus on the macro sentiments delivered at this incredible event. Thus, it would be a disservice to the event to ask, “Where are we going as an industry?”; perhaps the more pertinent question is, “Where is the internet going as a whole?”



Advancement of technology, safety of users, developments of advertising, progress in sales, importance of politics/legislation, the role the internet plays in our lives… Nothing would be revolutionary about hearing people talk about these subject areas at WebSummit - interesting, for sure, but not revolutionary. However, there was a definite shift in the gravity of change on which we are seemingly on the cusp, if we are to trust what was said at Web Summit 2022 - and why wouldn’t we? The aforementioned metrics speak for themselves in terms of the integrity of this premier event.


Get your action in the ad


On Day One of the event, Diana Lee, Co-Founder and CEO of Constellation Software, posed the question “You’re going to get advertising whether you like it or not..why not get the advertising that suits you?” In doing so, she highlighted the widespread misconception when we are asked by a website whether we wish to allow cookies - a question that is frequently misconstrued as, “Do you want advertising?”. The truth is that the ads will be there, regardless. But as a DIY enthusiast who loves craft beer and ‘80s/’90s terrace wear, if I have the choice between seeing adverts for DeWalt drills, Siren Brewery and Sergio Tacchini track tops, or receiving ads on payday loans… Well, I know which I’d prefer!


But, putting the jokes to one side and addressing the wider point that Lee was making: cookies are going away and tracking is going to become increasingly difficult. So, how do we measure the effectiveness and ROI of our advertising like we have for the past decade? The message was loud and clear: ad tech is advancing. Put your purpose in the ad. Put your form in the ad. Get your action in the ad.


Shifting design for future generations


Chris Anderson, Curator at TED, spoke in the most unique way I witnessed at the event. It wouldn’t be unfair to describe his talk as “a little bit strange” and if you’re not into metaphors, you would likely have walked away from the Centre Stage thinking, “What was that guy on about?!”. BUT... and I can’t put this in a big enough typeface.. BUT... his message is critical for this generation and the next!


As a dad, I am acutely aware of the world to which I am contributing and the world in which our children will grow up. During his presentation, Chris shared a link to this website, on which the following quote is prominent and perfectly encapsulates the message he was conveying:



Chris spoke of a metaphorical split of our psyches: “Jabby” (bad - responding to engagement/attention) and “Yodel” (good - responding to the rule of law and education). The attention factory that we all succumb to day-in, day-out, plays on the worst side of our “Jabby” psyche and if left unchecked, it would push us down a very dark path.


So how do we, as thought leaders and action drivers in our respective industries, effect change?


We shift design:


* TIME - Move from perpetual to pause

* MINDSET - Move from conviction to curiosity

* MEDIUM - Move from text to talk

* VISIBILITY - Move from threats to treats


If we can all get on board with this concept, we can build a less attention-obsessed, more value-built, loving web for the next generation.


SaaS sales


Ryan Neu wrapped up Day 1 with a talk around “Why nobody wants to buy SaaS from you - and how to fix it”, and led with an interesting (but not particularly surprising) metric: 30% of people don’t trust salespeople.


“And why should they trust you? Look at you, you’re a bunch of sleazy salesmen” - as Jordan Belfort put it in Wolf of Wall Street (NOT Ryan Neu... although he may as well have said it!)


SaaS sales is dead - and here’s why: It’s bloody hard! 60-day sales cycles with 80% drop out. But it can be equally frustrating on the other side! We’ve all been on the receiving end of “If you buy in Q3, I’ll talk to my Sales Director about what we can do about the price” and “Let us build you a package and we’ll price it accordingly” - etcetera.


Neu was clear in his belief and findings, having set up Vendr to alleviate the pain and annoyance of dealing with SaaS sales and the need to remove this sales complexity. Software sales are expected to exceed $800b by the end of 2023, but if the same effort and investment that goes into building a sales team/process is also put into R&D and innovation of the product, we all win. Transparent and upfront pricing of your product will win.


There's more, BUT I'll wrap this up here and share the rest with you early next week in part 2 of this blog.


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