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Web Summit 2016: Our Thoughts and Takeaways

If you are active in the marketing sphere, you'll be well aware that Web Summit 2016 recently took place in Lisbon. With more than 53,000 attendees, the event was quite a feat—especially considering the number of other, regional summits in Asia and Americas. Some major data marketing trends up for discussion this year? AI (total game-changer!); data overloads; and privacy matters.

Velocidi team member David Murray was at the event, and offered his perspective on the experience. What follows is a distillation of what he had to say.

Why Lisbon?

Lisbon is certainly a city to watch. Over the last three years, it's gone through some major changes. Home to 20 incubators and accelerators, thanks to a number of natural advantages, the city is attracting startups from all over the world. Major tech players—like Accenture, Altran, Cisco, Microsoft, and Nokia Siemens (SAP)—as well as numerous SMEs and startups, are already enjoying the benefits that Lisbon and the rest of Portugal have to offer. In fact, last year Lisbon won the title of European Entrepreneurial Region of the Year. Clearly, the city has its sights set on taking a leading role in European tech.

This year's Summit differed somewhat from the previous one, which took place in Dublin. For one thing, top tier US investor and tech leaders were notably absent. For another, the sheer scale of the event was breathtaking. It was at least twice as big as Web Summit 2015, and Lisbon's world-class expo center, the Lisbon MEO Centre—which was created for the world Expo back in the 80s—made a great home. It was a smart move to get the Web Summit locked in there for the next 3 years. 

The State of Data Analytics and Privacy

All the major players in data analytics that came to the Summit in 2015 returned, but none of them touted any major upgrades to their previous product offerings, and despite the rapid emergence of new and better AI tech, none seemed ready to alter their approaches.

When a clear and major problem for those who work with data—e.g. marketers, agencies, and brand managers—is that they're spending too much time on data and not enough time on insights, the lack of conversation around marketing intelligence was puzzling. The fact is, using the right marketing intelligence tools can significantly boost data analysis efficiency. 

Instead, the top concern seemed to be privacy. There seemed to be general agreement that businesses can no longer operate under the current standards of data privacy, and that a user's safety should be designed into the very code of a product at its inception. Many start-ups shared their own data privacy solutions. For instance, the Swiss encrypted communication company Privus enters the market with the strap line mantra, "Privacy is an inherent human right. It is in our DNA."

The business potential of startups like Privus speaks to the growing number of digital age consumers who are increasingly uncomfortable exchanging personal data. Any brand that relies on consumer data: beware. 

What Does All This Mean for Marketers and Brand Managers? 

It simply isn't enough to say, "If the other guy isn't moving any faster than we are, we're okay." It's essential to handle large sets of consumer data safely and efficiently. Many firms experience major overload due to ever-increasing input from social media. They simply don't have the staff or systems to process all of it—and make sense of it. Who could, when new data is coming in all the time? It's near-impossible to analyze and act upon such a massive and fast-moving bulk of data without the right marketing intelligence tools. 

When it comes to AI, the general consensus at Web Summit 2016 was that no industry has a real solid grasp on how AI will impact its operations. But there is also no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with AI solutions in data or marketing intelligence. The real advantage is in specific solutions, tailor-made to examine specific data sets for specific end-users.

But because such tools are still rare, the majority of firms are still one step behind, dealing with mountains of un-analyzed data while new raw data keeps pouring in. Velocidi's marketing intelligence platform simplifies data issues while delivering true intelligence through aggregated insights for specific solutions. So, what do you think? Does that change the conversation?

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