Nine things I learnt at the Dublin Tech Summit

Dublin's Tech Summit 2018 may have drawn to a close but Team IMAGE still can't stop talking about it. Leaders and innovators from all over the world gathered at the Dublin Convention Centre on 18th and 19th April to learn about recent advances in the tech industry. Below are nine of our biggest takeaways:


1 - Men rule the tech industry... for now

Of the 1.64 million people working tech jobs in the UK, only 3.9% are female. Amali de Alwis, CEO of Code First Girls is determined to change this. She says tech and telecommunications jobs are really well paid, with an average salary of £51K. There’s no reason why women can’t get involved. Her company aims to teach 20,000 young women in the UK and Ireland how to code for free by the end of 2020.

2 - Women have shaped the internet as we know it

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Amali de Alwis of Code First Girls shared examples of women who’ve shaped the digital sphere in the past 40 years. Computer programmer and network engineer, Radia Joy Perlman, invented the 'spanning-tree protocol', one of the fundamental tools in the internet’s infrastructure. Without her, there’d be no worldwide web or cable TV as we know it – thus earning her the nickname ‘Mother of the Internet’.

Meanwhile, Jude Milhon (also known as St Jude) was a hacker in the early 1970s. At a time when the internet was solely available to the military and a handful of universities, she developed privacy-enhancing technologies to bring about political change. St Jude also coined the term ‘Cypherpunk’ and campaigned for women’s right to participate in early cyber society. She once famously said, “When you are in cyberspace, no one knows what gender is”.

3 - You can do anything if you're innovative

Kevin Mako of Mako Design + Invent says you can do anything you want (and make money from it) if you’re innovative. For example, he has seen innovators make thousands of dollars by selling goggles for dogs (yes, they're a thing). To bring that success to our own lives, he recommends dedicating just 2% of your time to innovation. He says to block out that time in your calendar; turn off your phone, ignore your email, and spend time innovating. "It’ll be the single most profitable thing you ever do," he says, "See what you can achieve within this time."

4 - Small steps lead to big things

Kevin Mako also shared his four pillars of innovation. They are:

1. Innovation needs a policy; write it down, put an innovation policy in place for your company.

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2. Innovation is incremental. Small changes to a niche section of your business is where success begins. Fine-tune things and don’t be afraid to fail.

3. Innovation is a science: Victor Poirier, a professor at the Institute of Advanced Discovery & Innovation at the University of South Florida, argues that innovation is a series of steps. His research suggests that innovators possess certain characteristics, and he and his colleagues are currently testing and developing ways in which they can teach people to achieve them.

4. Innovation is thinking big. Start with a big idea but make small, incremental changes to achieve it. As Mako said before, just 2% of your week is all it takes.

5 - Don't take life too seriously

Jordan P Evans, Deputy Director of Science and Innovation at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories, spoke about the need to have a work/life balance within the office. He says, “Take work seriously, but don’t take yourselves seriously.” He highlighted the importance of bringing humour into the workplace and showed the audience photographs of he and his colleagues having fun. A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive.

Evans also spoke about the importance of being humble. He says to learn from others in the industry – know that you don't know everything – and accept criticism. Not only will this improve your knowledge, but also that of the people around you.

6 - Traits of a successful innovator

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According to Jordan P Evans at NASA, the best innovators have particular characteristics. These include:

  1. Intellectual curiosity - you must have the ability and the desire to learn.
  2. Ability to see the big picture - yet still get into the details.
  3. Be a team member and a team leader (also, know that there's a difference between leadership and management).
  4. Have an appreciation for Process. Be rigorous, but know when to stop.
  5. Proper paranoia (expect the best, but plan for the worst).

7 - Things can always get better

YouTube star Casey Neistat spoke about how significantly his life has changed over the past decade. He revealed he was a high school drop-out with a young baby to care for. He lived in an old caravan at a trailer park, washed dishes for a living, and had no future prospects. That was until he discovered how to make videos on his brother's computer. This discovery coincided with his girlfriend dumping him, so he took his two-year-old child, $800, and moved to New York. Since then, his videos have garnered a combined viewership of over two billion. He says hard work, combined with luck, led to his incredible success.

8 - We need female role models

Mentoring is hugely important for women. Sarita Johnston of Enterprise Ireland says a woman is five times more likely to start her own business if she has a strong, female role model to look up to. It seems a man is only twice as likely to start his own business with a male role model in his life. Women supporting each other in tech and business is paramount to success.

9 - Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing

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Artificial Intelligence is going to be the most life-changing development in technology over the next few years, more so than the phone in your pocket. Self-driving cars already exist, but it's going to go beyond that. Soon, your fridge will be able to order milk when you run out (and it'll also be able to pay for it). As well as that, AI will soon be used in businesses around the world; not only for things like payroll but also in recognising and implementing new business strategies.


For information on the Dublin Tech Summit, click here.

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