Out & About: WP Engine Breakthrough

Author - 93digital

Posted By 93digital

Date posted 26th Nov 2018

Category Blog


Each team member at 93digital has a £1,000 personal development budget each year. In our ‘Out and About’ series, we catch up with the team following their adventures at conferences, events and learning.

This time we chat with Jeremy, following his recent trip to WP Engine’s 2nd annual UK summit, Breakthrough.

1. What is your role at 93digital?

I’m the Marketing Manager

2. What have you attended recently and where?

I recently was invited to join WP Engine’s list of agencies, brands and innovators at their UK Conference, to ingest everything ‘digital experience’, which as it turns out, expands into many other areas of conversation…

3. What’s the premise behind the event?

It’s a one day conference, filled with all the typical things one would associate with a conference:

Fancy hotel, check. Wonderful food, check. Fascinating speakers that make you think? Checkmate. All this, only compressed into one day, in central London.

Obviously, due to the nature of WP Engine’s business, there was a slight emphasis on WordPress technology at certain times, though ultimately this was an event with its eyes firmly fixed on the future, not simply the future of WordPress. There were talks on Gen Z, and how this generation of digital natives are using the internet differently, which is already impacting on current and future digital trends, and a provoking thought from editor of WIRED, Oliver Franklin-Wallis who said in his talk, that “Digital experiences are so individualized, you and I don’t live in the same world anymore”.

4. What did you learn that you can take into your work day-to-day?

From a day-to-day perspective, Gianfranco Chicco’s talk highlighted the need for me to verify my own sources to make sure that they are trusted. To make his point, he showed us the now-famous ‘Deep Fakes’ video which shows Barack Obama giving a speech.

Or does it….

Rather usefully, Gianfranco also offered up solutions, providing us all with a list of ‘tools for a safer internet’.

From a more practical perspective, there was a talk from Scott Friesman, from the Global Products and Partnerships team at Google, who brought my focus back down to Earth with a necessary talk on having a ‘mobile first mindset’, in particular when it comes to building speed-optimised mobile pages.

Importantly, he shared with us plans of a Google AMP for WordPress plugin, on its way before the end of the month.

Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project is a framework that allows for the embedding of more complex web pages in an efficient, yet still visually pleasing manner.

5. What did you learn from a more long-term perspective?

As I already mentioned, this conference had it’s gaze firmly fixed on the future, so there was quite a lot to take in and contemplate.

The one that really got my juices flowing though, was the talk from Dr Chris Brauer, the Director of Innovation at Goldsmiths College. Not only did I really like his job title, his talk, entitled ‘AI Is Making Us More Human’, rewrote in my head at least, the current narrative on how Skynet’s going to either kill us all or take our jobs.

He shared with us examples of companies using AI in the workplace already, and that those companies using the latest AI technologies are already outperforming those companies who aren’t on average by a figure of over 5%!

He also highlighted the difference between ethical and unethical AI organisations – Those using AI ethically, IE not just use it to increase their bottom line, were performing way better (9%) than those thinking ‘How can we use AI for our bottom line’.

This all led to an overall hypothesis of positivity, hence why AI is enabling humanity and definitely not replacing it!

6. What made you decide to go to this event?

A number of self-serving reasons:

  1. Our WP Engine Consultant invited us
  2. Getting out of the office always broadens my horizons
  3. WP Engine is one of our partners. As such, we like to support those we work with, in multiple capacities.
  4. Have I mentioned the food?

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