We recently attended the Dublin Tech Summit and despite a few delays registering on the first morning, the event was a great experience, providing us with informed speakers and interesting panel discussions across a range of topics from fintech and AI to blockchain and branding. If you weren’t able to make it, below are a few of our highlights from the two day event.
Customer Experience and creating a frictionless experience for users were key elements of Wednesday’s presentations.
Petrina Grady - Head of Current Accounts, Savings & Investments KBC
Ryan Leech - Innovation Delivery Manager KBC
Customer experience was mentioned by nearly every speaker at the event. Petrica started the talk with some great quotes on it:
'The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.'
Jerry Gregoire (DELL CIO)
“By 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.”
‘Customers 2020’ study by Walker
The KBC team then talked us through the process of opening a current account on their mobile app, discussing the different technologies that were through the process from OCR to facial recognition. How each step met customer needs, bank, technical and legal requirements was also discussed. An interesting point was how the bank had to change their existing processes moving from batch processing to instant fulfillment to enable accounts to be opened. Feedback throughout the process was gained from customers forums and through prototyping and testing with users, an approach we promote here at Marino too.
Paul Walsh - SVP Global Innovation Visa
Paul had three key-points in his presentation - Embrace the Cognitive Age, Make Technology Invisible and Co-creation is essential. Paul showed and told us Visa’s vision, discussed the importance of machine learning and the need for identifying differences and patterns in data. He mentioned, as many other speakers did, of the need to reduce friction for users, how knowing the experience your user goes through from end to end is critical and how technology should blend seamlessly into the background. His vision of how the simple task of buying a coffee will change went something like this: you would order your coffee from a shop with your voice assistant at home and then set off on your journey. On the way your location would be transmitted to the shop so when you arrived your coffee would be ready and as you collected, the payment would automatically be taken from your account. A truly frictionless experience!
Danielle Levitas - SVP Research & Professional Services App Annie
Danielle gave some great statistics on app use and growth for different industries and countries around the world. 1.75 Billion app downloads occured in 2017 with this figure representing only first time downloads, with users spending on average 3 hours a day on their apps. She discussed the advantages of native apps over browser based apps, optimisation and personalisation, and how after 10 years we now have a critical mass of developers with years of experience. On the topic of progressive apps, while accepting there are still opportunities here, the fact that technology is improving and issues such as storage which drove their creation are not as critical, the strength and advantage of native apps remains. Comparisons of app sessions for Digital First and Brick & Clicks apps (Traditional bricks and mortar retailers moving into the app space) was another interesting statistic, while how app names, image and descriptions in the app stores can make a difference to download numbers was also mentioned. Finally she emphasised the advantages of having an app for business, a channel that can be used to meet your customer, wherever and whenever they want to be met.
Augmented reality, virtual reality and machine learning are a few exciting technologies that are predicted to grow substantially in the coming years. The evolution of these technologies and the implications for businesses, users and society at large were brought up in some of Thursday’s presentations.
Brett Bibby - VP of Engineering Unity Technologies
Early Thursday on the Future stage Brett Bibby from Unity spoke about the growth in augmented reality apps, from simple measuring applications to fixing machines on oil rigs without the need to helicopter experts on site. There has been a spike in growth over the last few years in devices enabled for augmented reality, yet despite this growth there remains a small percentage of apps using AR. He sees a massive opportunity for developers to engage with this explosion of AR capable devices.
Mikela Eskenazi - CCO Blippar
Mikela Eskenazi also gave a presentation around the subject of AR. She spoke of the evolution of the primary computer interface from keyboard to touch screen to natural language to the current stage of innovation in camera vision (comprising AR and VR). This shift is driven by computer vision technologies and AR content production becoming much cheaper.
Both Brett Bibby and Mikela Eskenazi ended their presentations with thoughts on the broader societal and ethical implications of AR. Bibby spoke of the importance of user privacy. Eskenazi brought up the question of who owns virtual space. For example if a company wants to overlay advertising in specific geolocations or if an app overlays information on a coke bottle what are the legal implications of this.
An audience member said the presentation on AR evoked aspects of the Netflix programme Black Mirror. Eskenazi responded acknowledging the value of Black Mirror in making people conscious of worse case scenarios and bringing these into discussion.
The issue of privacy and transparency came up in several talks. Facebook’s recent data breaches and the upcoming GDPR legislation no doubt contributed to this. This last audience question around the malevolent potential of AR lead nicely into the next discussion, which was around whose responsibility it is to police the web.
Panel discussion with Dirk Jumpertz - Security Manager EURid, Brian Honan - CEO BH Consulting, moderated by Vivienne Mee - Founder VM Group
The panel discussed the difficulties in policing the web across borders, partly due to varying policies and international laws and emphasised the need for governments to work together to create legislation. They spoke of governments needing to catch up with developments in technology and of them being consistently ill equipped to deal with cybercrime. They agreed that tech companies also need to be held to greater accountability, stating the importance of secure code and reporting criminal activity. Jumpertz said that Facebook having a user base of two billion necessitates a level of responsibility and that they can’t consider themselves to be ‘just’ a tech company. Both speakers agreed the GDPR was a step in the right direction. They also emphasised how important it is for individuals to educate themselves on the information they are sharing, with a need for people to more closely align their actions on and off line. With the majority of malware still coming from email communication, Brian Honan gave one concrete word of advice to the audience - don’t click on shit.
Artificial intelligence was another much discussed topic over the two days. Although the panel discussions were too tight on time to allow any depth of discussion, and panelists for the most part represented companies invested in selling themselves with said technologies - they did provide food for thought on the implications of and opportunities with these technologies.
Panel discussion with Niall Twomey - CTO Fenergo, Jonathan Hyland - CTO Globoforce, Lisa Murray - Director of Roaming Verizon Wireless, moderated by Taragh Loughrey - Digital Editor RTE
There were some complex questions asked in this discussion around the future of the human in an increasingly automated workforce. The panel were in agreement that certain industries will be devastated by current developments. They were though optimistic about an increasingly automated workforce, speaking of it as a positive force that will rid people of repetitive tasks, leaving more energy for meaningful work. They spoke of a workforce that would need to be more adaptable. Lisa Murray spoke about traits such as empathy and relationship skills being of greater importance - the sort of behaviour a machine cannot emulate.
On the cautious side there was mention of the need to make sure we are not building in biases that could be amplified in an artificially intelligent system and the need for a diverse workforce. Also brought up was the question of accountability. For example if there is a surgical mistake from a procedure performed by a machine, who is responsible, the doctor operating it or the programmer.
At Marino Software, our team of engineers and designers love keeping up to date with the latest technologies and how they can be implemented to benefit our customer. If your interested in learning more about what emerging technologies can do for your business, you should talk to us.