This week I tweeted that this year would be my 15th consecutive visit to Internet World. Somewhat surprisingly they came back to me asking if Id answer a few questions by way of an interview. Since I gave the answers a bit of thought I have turned them into a new post herewith.
If you’re not a geek then this won’t be your favourite post so I apologise for the poor targetting. If you’re a bit of a geek then you might be amused. If you’re a complete geek then you’ll probably spot some inaccuracies; please excuse these in the name of art/science.
What was the digital landscape like when you first attended Internet World in 1997?
I’d just started working for Intershop – we were one of the first ecommerce vendors but we were well-financed and we had a BIG plan. IW ’97 was smaller then, of course, and a little less focused; In ecommerce in 1997, Microsoft Merchant Server was in play, along with iCat. The Operating System battles were fought between Sun Solaris, HPux and Linux; Hardware vendors included Digital and Compaq – and SGI was very much in evidence too. DotNet was a barely a glitter in Mr Gates’ wallet but Microsoft were agressively trying to clarify the landscape. Payment solutions fought to become the commercial enablement solution of choice; Netbanx, Cybercash, Datacash and Worldpay (now RBS!) were not much more than startups. Browsers were dominated by Netscape, search results (probably from Altavista, Excite or even DogPile!) were displayed in categories, plug-ins for flash were a nightmare and bandwidth was sloooow.
What are the most exciting technologies displayed at Internet World over the last 15 years?
On the software side, for me the arrival of SAAS and Apps have been the seismic changes – less code on the terminal has been one of the only continuous trends. Social is also a genuinely new and exciting arrival especially so given it’s not simply a platform or a solution – it’s a way of thinking. In hindsight it’s straight out of the school of the bleedin’ obvious – commerce, entertainment, learning – they’re all people-things so to develop a social denominator is a natural progression.
What has been your highlight of Internet World in your attendance over the last 15 years?
Highlights are hard to distil, mainly because each year the show brings a whole host of new stuff and, being new, it’s always exciting. For me, the highlight was without doubt the year Intershop UK made its hundredth UK hire, moving to new premises and aserting itself as one of the best solutions on the market. Although we had to retreat not long after, and the downturn in 2001 was painful, the growth of the DotCom bubble was a wave worth well worth the riding.
Where do you see digital moving into in the next 20 years?
Gates once said (in about 1998) “Most Forecasts are BUNK” so in that context I hesitate to take this question too seriously. It would be too easy to confirm what the trends are already telling us: Apps for basic online services will rapidly becoming the norm – probably on lighter, faster handheld units and fatter apps will all be cloud-based for scale, efficiency and security. Innovation wouldn’t be difficult if we could predict stuff but someone somewhere is nursing another great idea. Twitter draws on fad and function and most likely the next big thing will too.
What has made you keep coming back to Internet World, year-on-year for 15 years?
In about 2001, The Times stopped using the term “e-business”, realising that it was in fact just “Business”. So they stopped doing e-business supplements and removed the category from their website. At this moment I realised that business was always going to have “e” in it even if it was not explicit, it was just how modern business was conducted. Internet World for me has always heralded and showcased modern ways of doing (“e”) business and that’s why I keep coming back. Maybe next year you’ll just call it “World”.
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