We visited the Internet World Expo on its last day today. Running for three days as part of London Tech week, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knew that there would be something interesting, and I wasn’t wrong. However, with the conference organisers promoting that we would ‘discover the most cutting-edge technology innovations and strategies to drive [our] organisation’s success,’ I can’t say that I was entirely convinced.
There were two things that really stuck in my mind from today. The first was a visit to the chaps at boxagon.com, a new startup whose USP is a user-driven website that, as they put it, ‘. . . is a new way of finding and sharing collections or “boxes” of things that go well together for all types of adventures. So, if you are getting a dog or running your first marathon, you can search through the site and see curated boxes of items that other users recommend.’ It could also have other uses, like putting together a wedding gift list or producing a list of recommended medical products. Being a user-driven site it certainly makes you feel more comfortable buying the recommended items because the lists aren’t produced by an anonymous business entity; rather, your peers and fellow customers are always pretty discerning about these things.
The second item of today’s visti that I really enjoyed was watching a boys vs. girls ‘code off’ courtesy of the team from Free:formers. Free:formers run hands-on workshops for digital novices, teaching them everything from how to use social media safely through to competent digital innovation and, on top of that, for every business person they train they offer free training to an unemployed 16-25 year old in their One:for1 scheme. The code off was a fun introduction for any newbies in the audience to see how, with the right training (no one coding had much more than a year’s experience) anyone can code well. The audience was invited to vote via Twitter using either #ffboys or #ffgirls during the coding with the winning team (the girls!) announced at the end.
Despite the flurry of freebies and the friendly personalities on each stand (and the brilliantly comfortable beanbag seats from Squish), I can’t say I left overwhelmed by what most exhibitors had to offer. It’s a great shame, because with the right mix of stalls and tangible innovations, it could have been an even better expo.