4 min.
Putting people before technology. A look back at the Amsterdam The Next Web conference.
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Putting people before technology. A look back at the Amsterdam The Next Web conference.

Business Strategy Content Content & SEO Client experience & UX

“The Heart of Tech” was this year's theme, it expresses a need to get back to the human behind the technology. Jonathan Lemay shares his main findings.


The tone was set from the start of the 14th edition of The Next Web  conference , presented in May 2019 in Amsterdam. “The Heart of Tech” was this year's theme, it expresses a need to get back to the human behind the technology. In the era of the management of privacy, personal data and especially scandals at large technology companies, we were undoubtedly at the heart of the hot topic of the hour. 


In their presentations, many speakers came to the same conclusion: technology has taken up too much of our lives. There is a technological solution for everything: better choose the films we want to watch, communicate with our friends or simply go shopping, to name a few. We have never been so connected and we have never felt so overwhelmed with information. Louise Troen , vice-president of marketing and communications at Bumble , a dating application, summed it up very well during her visit: “The explosion of interactions on social networks has led to a decrease in human interactions. »  

The observation is both simple and heavy: more communications and more platforms have not brought more attention from consumers to brands. It's actually the opposite: we face exorbitant amounts of content, but only consult it on the surface, to the detriment of engagement and relationships between humans.


All those who spoke on stage at The Next Web agree on one thing: it is essential to put the user and his needs at the heart of the technological solutions that we offer him. Melanie Deziel , former editor at the New York Times , is even adamant: “Put the needs of your audience before your own. »  

For some brands, this may mean communicating less often, but offering more value in their content. The creation of value is not simple, it largely depends on the perception of this value by the user. But by starting research by focusing on the user, we already have part of the solution.

Michael Gaston of Cut.com , a video production firm behind several viral videos like 100 Years of Beauty , talked about revisiting the way users are typically defined and breaking out of socio-demographic logic by instead defining users by their behavior. and their preferences. Socio-demographic categories, or boxes, make it easier for brands to address them, but leave little room for nuance and personalization. By letting user behavior speak for itself in the definition of these categories, we are getting closer to a model that is more likely to stick to reality and consumer needs.  

The personalization of the user experience greatly contributes to the creation of value. Purna Virji , speaker for Microsoft, discussed the adaptability of technological solutions as opposed to consumer solutions, applicable to everyone. A personal experience also creates value: users attach great importance to human interaction during a purchasing process, for example. According to Petah Marian of WGSN , a trend forecasting company, consumers spend more if they have interacted with a human during a purchase process.    

Finally, Michael Redbord of Hubspot , a marketing software suite, summed up the key to customer experience success very well: “Brands with the best experience are the most successful, not necessarily the best product. The approach is radical: we focus on the human who uses the technology rather than on our own technological solutions.   

The tide is therefore turning in the technology sector. Humans, those who must be served through innovation, will take on more and more importance in corporate issues. Companies that follow this trend will be able to face the challenges of tomorrow.