Leo Learning: We hear you went to the Power of One. What was that all about then?
Katie: It was a fantastic full day event held at Battersea Power Station, which was an amazing venue. It was focused on motivating and inspiring new ideas and analysing current trends in the tech industry. The day consisted of six talks from some very inspirational speakers, and two panel sessions.
As you might tell from the title of the event, it was all about inspiring entrepreneurial activity – the power of one! We got to hear from some prestigious entrepreneurs in the tech industry, but for me this wasn’t all about ‘going it alone’ and starting-up. The event highlighted that we can all be ‘intrapreneurial’ within our organisations by looking for opportunities, and by displaying the drive and determination to produce work that meets audience needs and that solves problems in our business. It was a really inspirational day, made better by the fact we were in the heart of such a fantastic building…
Leo Learning: It sounds like it was a busy day. Who where you most excited about seeing and did they live up to your expectations?
Katie: I was really looking forward to seeing David McCandless and he didn’t disappoint! He talked on information visualisation and presenting Big Data in a visual and accessible manner. This really made me think – feast your eyes on David’s website to see what I mean. Visualising information allows us to identify patterns and events that might not necessarily be identifiable from data sets alone. McCandless’ describes what he does as a “new kind of camera”, which rips away the cognitive surplus allowing us to consume and explore that information much more effectively than if it was presented as facts and figures. This is something we are looking into more and more at Leo Learning. We have been creating infographics and detailed diagrams to explain complex processes, and we have been experimenting with turning content into ‘Learnzines’ for the iPad to make concepts more digestible and engaging.
Another talk I was looking forward to was Richard Kramer who runs a technology research group called Arete. Kramer’s presentation was vastly different to McCandless’, and was very much based on the future and present state of the mobile market. He argues that the device market is the only growth area in the tech industry at the moment, however if we want to be truly innovative we should start looking at what Asia are doing in this arena, rather than focusing on the US and European landscape – Asia is way ahead of the game.
Kramer offers some advice for those of us considering creating apps. He urges us to start with the community we are building the app for and focus on their needs – if we can identify exactly how a mobile app will meet this audience need well we will be far more successful than if we just build an app because we feel we need to have one.
Sam Ramji’s presentation, ‘API’s are the secret weapon’, was also an incredibly useful and insightful talk. His slides are on slideshare and they are fantastic! Ramji uses Darwin’s Finches of evolution when talking about the competitive marketplace and adaptation, and the best way for businesses to survive today are through API’s. He observes that in the past business went from direct to indirect (i.e. dedicated store to department store) and the web is going through the same process, that’s why APIs are important.
Ramji goes on to say that for successful companies 80% of traffic will come from beyond the browser, in a few years it will be 100%. In the world of APIs, the 80:20 rule often becomes 99:1 – look at all of the Twitter-related Apps like Hootsuite, CoTweet, Bit.Ly etc. There is value in considering how we can reuse existing resources and datasets and re-purpose these to meet our users’ needs.
Last but not least, I want to talk about Jason Calacanis’s presentation. Calacanis is a technological optimist – which means he believes everything can be solved by technology e.g. turning roads into solar panels to solve energy problems. He wants us all to watch the feature film Forks Over Knives that examines the profound claim that most, if not all, degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled. So, if the technology is out there we just need to drive and manpower to innovate and utilise this technology to solve problems.
Mr Calacanis left us with a very thought-provoking statement which I’m going to leave you with today: “we are the last generation that will remember a time when the Internet didn’t exist”