Looking into the digital future at WP Engine’s Summit

We had an insightful day on 12th November attending WP Engine’s Summit in London where we learnt from leading brands, agencies, and industry thought-leaders who are driving innovation, delivering growth, and inventing the future of how brands will connect with consumers online.
Here is a summary…

The Digital Future by Jeremy White of WIRED UK

Jeremy took us on a whirlwind tour of what the digital future holds for us including making payments using facial recognition (Smile To Pay is already available in China), Orbital insights which studies a range of human activity via drones and satellites to provide business strategic insights and Google Duplex which can make appointments to businesses over the phone using AI.

Product Innovation Showcase

WP Engine provided us with an overview of their product innovation roadmap for 2019 including the Genesis Framework, new themes, Atomic Blocks, Global Edge Security, the WP Engine DevKit and Smart Plugin Manager which uses visual testing to make sure an update hasn’t broken your site.

AI and the path towards a more human web by Dr Chris Brauer of University of London

Dr Chris Brauer gave us an overview of the research he carried out in collaboration with WP Engine to investigate the role of AI in creating human digital experiences on the web. The research showed that 42.5% of business in the UK are already seeing a visible increase in sales volume through their use of AI and 81% are seeing a positive return on investment for where AI is being used to power digital experiences.

WP Engine summit 2019 AI research talk

Although 57.9% of survey respondents in the UK said they believe AI will ultimately have a positive impact on the world, 41.8% said they were concerned about inherent bias in AI. For example when Amazon adopted AI for recruitment they found that it didn’t select women because it was working with historic data which showed that women didn’t to get into senior roles. So the AI revealed a bias that existed in the organisation. Dr Brauer made the point that AI should be used to reveal and address these biases.

The research outlines 3 pillars that businesses need to focus on: Personalisation, data exchange and the ability to make digital experiences more meaningful. 91% of consumers surveyed said that they want to feel trust in a company when using their website so it is important to get it right. The key is for businesses to know the needs of their target audience and how what they do with AI makes them feel.

You can learn more about AI and the path to a more human web in this webinar.

Breakthrough Experiences

In this session we heard about real-world examples of how top organisations are providing breakthrough digital experiences to their customers and clients using WordPress.  

Caroline Courtney from Amnesty International told us about how they have implemented WordPress multisite with a custom Amnesty theme that can be used by all of their organisations and projects throughout the world. This helps to maintain brand consistency and makes creating new sub-sites and maintaining all the sites much easier.

Lastly Gabe Karp from 10up explained how they implemented WordPress multisite for a client’s intranet which provides AI powered custom content to each employee based on their needs and interests.

Building better digital experiences together by Maggie Lonergan of Publicis Emil

Publicis Emil is a global agency with one client, Mercedes-Benz, and in this talk Maggie shared with us how brands and agencies can evolve the way they work to deliver more memorable, deeply engaging digital experiences together.

WP Engine summit 2019 better digital experiences tallk

Harnessing Emotions in the Marketing Mix – an Introduction to Biometrics by David Wharram of Coast Digital

Over a third of (38%) people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive, making user experience with your website more important than ever before. In this talk David Wharram of Coast Digital shared how they are utilising biometric data to enhance user experiences and improve the emotional resonance of marketing material.  

Biometrics is the scientific measurement and statistical analysis of human traits, characteristics, behaviour and emotion. It is used by ePassport gates at airports that use facial recognition technology to match your face to the photograph stored on the microchip in your ePassport and by mobile phone fingerprint recognition.

David explained how it can also be used to test user experiences through eye tracking (records visual attention to screen-based stimuli ), Galvanic Skin Response (sensors which detects and measures changes in a user’s sweat levels and heart rate) and facial recognition. He revealed results of this testing where they could tell which image would evoke the right emotion for an ad campaign and how frustrated users become when they can’t find what they are looking for on a website.

Gen Z Panel

Gen Z is defined as people born between 1996 – 2005 who have never known a life without the internet (I have 2 children in this category) and we heard from 4 young Gen Z digital influencers about what experiences they are building, what technologies they are using and how their upbringing with mobile and social has informed their expectations of technology.

They all agreed that they can’t go more than a few hours without the internet, are happy to provide personal data in exchange for a more personalise user experience and they expect websites to know what they want before they tell them.

Learn more about WP Engines Gen Z study

WP Engine summit 2019 Gen Z Panel

Achieving your personal breakthrough by Ben Saunders, Polar Explorer

The final talk was about a personal breakthrough by Ben Saunders who lead The Scott Expedition – the longest human-powered polar journey in history, and the first completion of the expedition that defeated Captain Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton, a 105-day round-trip from Ross Island on the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back again. It was a fascinating and inspiring story about breaking down barriers, overcoming obstacles, and finding personal growth in every situation.

WP Engine summit 2019 Polar Ben talk

Key Takeways

We use WP Engine to host our website as well as some of our clients’ and so it was interesting to hear about the new products that they are developing to make our lives easier and their commitment to continuing to provide the best WordPress managed hosting service.

The talks themselves were really interesting and provided valuable insights on what we should be thinking about in order to help our clients create the best digital experiences for their customers now and in the future.

Angie and Franzi at WP Engine summit 2019

It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet up with old friends and make new connections within the beautiful Langham Hotel which proved to be an outstanding venue.

About Angie Vale

Angie is technical director at Studio Brand Up and has over 10 years experience in UX, web design and web accessibility.