Future Decoded - UK AGM

The Revolution will be Televised/Tweeted/Insta’d

Stefan Schmidt – Multinational Adsol
University of Lancaster – Marketing


LastMonday (10.11.14) the intern community was lucky enough to attend our first major conference, ‘Future Decoded’. One would imagine the standard conference experience to be of a cold corporate nature, un-engaging and square. Much to my surprise this was different – vibrant and fun, in line with what I’ve experienced within Microsoft’s office atmosphere as a whole.

Once you’d laboured through the registration process, ExCel London became an emporium of networking opportunity, home on the day to CEO’s and Sir’s, strolling about the exhibitions in anything from full suits to t-shirts and beanies.

We quickly made our way into the exhibition hall, greeted by the Xbox, Dell and HP stands upon our entry. The major brands offered slight insights into their future approaches – Dell showcasing their XPS 15 with latest Quad HD touch display and amped up i7 processor, while HP was hard selling their new server units. It was the stands pushing innovation which truly caught my eye, especially the SAM Labs start up.

SAM Labs was founded by Joachim Horn as a Kickstarter project, meeting its funding goal within two days of launch. It brings to life a concept which a fellow intern, Jack Ryder, described as “Coding LEGO” – this holds true in many ways. SAM in fact facilitates tangible engineering projects by removing the daunting coding aspect. Take a mechanical engineer for example, he has an idea but not the full IT skill set to pull it together. SAM gives an engineer a box of bricks which can be used in an infinite array of combinations: fans, lights & pressure sensors form but a small part of the toolkit. Rather than taking days to pull something together, it now only takes minutes. The story behind SAM is as inspiring as their products, you can check out their video here http://samlabs.me/.

<em>PS</em>3924Microsoft CEO and UK GM Michel Van Der Bel during their Q&A session at the keynote.

My fascination with SAM was interrupted only by a call to action. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO was on next in the Keynote auditorium – something I deemed too big an opportunity to miss. His speech was short and to the point, constantly referring back to a world of the future and “ubiquitous connectivity” (to the internet). As I pinned my ears back a theme of innovation and progress became obvious – Satya offering insights into what the future may hold.

We’re predicted to have 50 billion wirelessly connected devices by 2020, from street lights, to our refrigerators and shoes! While the benefits of this are apparent – energy efficient lighting, a live updating pantry app telling you what to grab from Tesco’s for your stir-fry, and fitness updates from the sole of your shoe.

_PB_2829 However, in the past decade we have continued to trade privacy for productivity, the convenience of these platforms is without question, but just like everything else on the internet – it’s available to the whole world. If the CIA’s biggest pentagon servers can be hacked from the outside, then cracking my phone security is like leap frogging an Oompa Loompa – a joke rather than a challenge. How difficult will it be for someone to check what’s in my pantry, how far and where I’ve walked that day, or even whether my door is locked or not. I personally still find this reality frightening, I think many of us feel exposed these days – and given the poor standard of internet security that isn’t surprising.

At the same time this is the path of our progress, the 60’s generation was born without the internet, digital cameras or mobile phones – now all three have been embraced as the norm. Sir Bob Geldof spoke after Satya at the conference, he was quick to point out that historically progress has always been approached with hesitance and fear, the Mandela’s and Galileo’s cornered by church and state. This revolution will be different however, it’s bigger – the human revolution of connectivity.

Future Decoded will return!

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