Recently I had the pleasure of a few days out of the office to attend the Dublin Tech Summit. What follows is my attempt to unpack my experience and share some interesting tidbits of information I picked up!
After a short trip down to Dublin, I arrived for the 2018 edition of the Dublin Tech Summit. I hadn’t been to it before and wasn’t sure what to expect but after waiting through the entrance queue I was really pleased to find a well co-ordinated and polished event.
Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to make the opening remarks (along with hundreds of others in the queues), instead on arrival I went straight to the first meeting I had pre-arranged. After that, I had a few hours before my next meeting so I used this time to explore the exhibitor area before joining one of the talks.
The exhibition space is typically what anyone would come to expect with the usual spattering of managed IT & offshore outsourcing stands mixed in with local enterprise office and large corporates. One surprise addition was to cryptocurrency at the event. It seemed a bit trivial but I guess that’s to be expected at tech events now.
The summit is divided up into 4x streams:
Each with their own talks and unique speakers, I opted to spend the morning in the Innovation stream.
Jason Cohen – WP Engine
I joined a talk by WP Engine CTO Jason Cohen titled Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. I didn’t read into what he was talking on but he was someone I was interested in hearing speak – his talk initially focussed on how he sold his first business only to see it sold ~7 years later for around $400 million and framed it in the context of whether he had “sold early” or not.
As far as he’s concerned he didn’t and made the case for whether he would have had the ability to grow the company to the scale that it was by it’s new owner. If he had chose to keep it would it have even survived?!
From there he went on to talk about how he started a blog in his spare time but with heavy demand for the site he ran into issues with uptime. This experience lead him to setup another business – WP Engine, and the rest they say is history.
WP Engine has grown to a revenue of over $100 million and 80,000 customers with monthly revenue, he talked about how after 4 years he made the decision to appoint a newly hired CEO to help the company grow whilst maintaining culture. He talked about how he found his passion throughout all of this finding the balance of what you’re good at (skill) and what makes you happy (joy).
Sofie Lindbloom – Ideation360
Next on stage was Sofie Lindbloom of Ideation360, her talk was titled “Avoid your Kodak moment – How to setup for continuous innovation”. She gave a fantastic insight into how companies, regardless of size should have an innovation system in place that helps them to innovate referring to the “double diamond” approach of ideation through to selection, decision making, development and in turn commercialisation before realising growth and running a post assessment.
She talked about how projects should fall within Horizon 1-3 style innovation:
- Horizon 1 – Projects that are within your core investment area with a proven ROI and low risk a.k.a. business as usual
- Horizon 2 – Innovate and optimise H1 projects or accelerate projects from H3
- Horizon 3 – 10x ideas with high risk that will ultimately become tomorrows H1 or H2
Alain Sylvain – Sylvain Labs
Later in the day I joined the FUTURExTECH stream and heard from Alain Sylvain who spoke of the herd mentality in creating a formula for satisfying a super ego, something he feels Waze – the crowd sourced traffic and mapping app accomplishes so well. It was a really well crafted talk that encompassed a very visual storytelling process alongside a relaxed delivery.
Casey talked about his experience trying to make it as a movie maker and the journey that ultimately lead him to producing the hit viral video for Nike with no real direction other than the idea to go to an airport, take the next flight out – stay there until you got bored before going to that airport and repeating the process until you had no money left!
I won’t spoil the story for anyone who might have the opportunity to hear him speak, but he’s definitely worth hearing and his candid version of events is welcome!
After looking through the day two schedule, I’ll be honest in saying that nothing really stood out to me as a must attend but I decided to head to the Innovation stage for most of the day and experienced a variety of different talks interspersed with some of the meetings I had pre-arranged on the conference app.
Jason Zander – Microsoft Azure
I expected a head to head knockout with AWS vs Azure slides, but I was pleasantly surprised to here Jason talk through some of the exciting IoT projects Azure was tackling with everything from “connected bees” and “connected cows” through to irrigation controls with SCADA Farm.
Jason then went on to cover a variety of highly polished video case-studies with a range of clients but one that stood out more than the others was ASOS. This retail giant (as per the case-study video) traditionally had issues during peak traffic with availability of services. Their team had planned an infrastructure overhaul splitting their platform into micro-services with each micro-service having the ability to scale independently to cope with demand.
This meant ASOS was able to smoothly handle 165 million users over a 24 hour period during the 2017 Black Friday sales!
Bruce Daisley – Twitter
A last minute talk I joined was (and wish I had joined earlier) by Bruce Daisley (VP EMEA – Twitter) who gave a fantastic look at “Improving work with science”. A talk peppered with hilarious gifs and great quotes about the march of the robots and what that means for jobs. He painted a great analogy of how the rise of the robots will be assistive and how that will ultimately allow people to focus on the more important, value-adding tasks with a great quote summarising the whole thing;
“Why stand when you can sit, why sit when you can lie down” – Chris Hoy
After this I nipped out for a few meetings and bumped into a few familiar faces before joining one last talk by Jaguar Land Rover on Autonomous Driving by Peter Barry (Chief Software Architect).
Peter Barry – Jaguar Land Rover
The biggest take away for me was the breakdown in levels of autonomy, with level 5 (https://www.carmagazine.co.uk/car-news/tech/autonomous-car-levels-different-driverless-technology-levels-explained/) being the hallowed iRobot style future where cars ship with no steering wheels or brake pedals and zero input required from passengers.
Timelines will be a bit hazy but essentially 20 years from now there is an expectation that it would be acceptable / normal to have level 5 vehicles on the road. Jaguar Land Rover’s decision to locate in Ireland was no accident either with a great talent pool available but I would imagine more importantly plenty of twisty, poorly marked and rough roads to test the software to its limits and prove out autonomous vehicles.
I booked a ticket for this event primarily with networking in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to find some fantastic talks, great facilities and great networking opportunities thanks to the Grip app used by the conference. The app could definitely use some improvements but on the whole it enabled some great meetings for me.
I hope to attend next year, for now though our attention shifts to Digital DNA in Belfast where we will be exhibiting in June (19th & 20th)