At a time of great uncertainty for many industries and indeed, the world itself, Web Summit gathers the founders and CEOs of technology companies, fast-growing startups, policymakers and heads of state to ask a simple question: Where to next? We attended dozens of talks on a huge variety of topics, from fintech and the future of work, to diversity and digitalisation. Here are our top five talks (in quotes) from Web Summit 2020.
A Europe for everybody - Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
The president of the European Commission discussed how the global pandemic has served as a catalyst for digital innovation, especially in Europe.
“We want Europe to be a place where startups grow into giants. For this, we will strive to invest in the right assets, and to remove the obstacles in the way of progress. The 2020s can be our digital decade (...) I want companies to know that, across the European Union, there will be one set of core digital rules instead of a patchwork of national legislations and national regulations for the same company”.
Using fintech solutions to save retail - Arik Shtilman, CEO at Rapyd
Outside of major ecommerce vendors, businesses are struggling to transition to online. From payment processing to cross-border transactions, Shtilman discussed the learnings that can be found in fintech and reframed for retail.
“What is happening (in retail) now is not preparation for the next pandemic, but rather adapting to behavioural patterns that are changing in society (...) Every retailer should offer 'the Amazon experience’, which is not just the ability to sell, but to fulfil everything around retail from payments to logistics. Retailers need to partner with infrastructure companies, as they won’t have the funds and manpower to build things on their own. In the years to come, retail companies need to focus on valued, strategic partnerships”.
Accelerating the fourth industrial revolution - Pekka Lundmark, President and CEO at Nokia
In his talk, Lundmark spoke about how fast the fourth industrial revolution could change society, and how quickly we can expect the new age of telecommunications to evolve.
“There is still a long way for digitalisation to go. Currently, 7 out of 10 factories have no smart elements (...) Nokia futurists modeled post-pandemic outcomes for digitalisation. ICT spend is projected to grow 6.5%, and will be weighted towards physical industries, meaning hospitals, factories and farms will catch up with banks and law firms on investment. Why is now the turning point? Because we have the technology that optimizes physical workflows in unprecedented ways. From network latency and reliability to sensors, software & machine learning”.
As part of his top tips for digital leaders, Lundmark stated “Do not compromise on trust. Whoever you choose to partner with on digitalisation, be sure to choose service providers you trust!”
Digitisation: Resilience vs disruption - Sebastian Klauke, Executive Board Member at Otto Group.
During this crisis, organisations have been asked to question their processes. In his session, Klauke looked at how organisations can drive forward, and genuinely complete digital transformation.
“It is not versus, but rather resilience and disruption. Many companies are told to transform or die. I see some key ingredients to success. One, start early. It sounds obvious, but it is key to start early enough to afford failures when trying new things. Two, keep executing. While thinking ‘can’t we just get rid of legacy ridden business models and go all in on new digital stuff’ is tempting, this just won’t work in a company with so many employees and turnover. A huge part of success lies in running your existing business better. Established businesses must continually optimize. Never get tired of good old cost efficiency and operational excellence. Focus and double down on those existing activities that have a real chance to win the market, that have a long life expectancy”.
Zooming ahead: The shaping of a new world - Eric Yuan, Founder & CEO at Zoom.
In conversation with Alyson Shontell of Business Insider, Yuan spoke about the journey of founding Zoom, the world during Covid-19, the future of communications, and the growing significance of and need for video communication and collaboration tools.
"I believe the way we work, and live, and learn, and play is very different now. Let's say the pandemic is over tomorrow. Do we all go back to the office? I don't think every employee will go back to the office. It's very likely we'll end up with a hybrid. Because it's good for climate change and it's good for productivity. (...) We believe that video conferencing tools like Zoom can deliver a better experience than face-to-face meetings in the future. I'll be able to shake hands with you and, if we speak different languages, with AI we'll be able to understand each other. Anyone, no matter where they are, will always feel like they’re in the same place together”.
We're already looking forward to Web Summit 2021! See you there?