CEBIT Webforward Conference Review

Last week amidst a busy schedule I managed to attend part of the CEBIT Webforward Conference. Sessions that I attended covered topics such as: “Mobile Web & Applications”, “Improving Web Usability & User Experience”, “Theory & Practice behind Social Influence Marketing”, “Social Media For Business” and “Web Analytics, Metrics & Information Management”. On the whole it was a far better conference than last years CEBIT e-Marketing & SEO Conference.

CEBIT Media Pass

Mobile Web & Applications

Keith Ahern from Mogeneration spoke about Critical Success Factors for Commercial Mobile Applications.

Keith was a good speaker. I’ve heard him speak before at the Silicon Federation’s Mobile Ecosystem day seminar. You can chat with Keith on Twitter @pubzak

These are some points from Keith’s presentation:

  • iPhone 3.0 software will enable subscription applications with repeat revenue which will open up great opportunities for organisations that own valuable data
  • Mogeneration targets mobile platforms with these features: must have touchscreen, 3G & wifi. These satisfy conditions: iPhone, Blackberry Storm, Android, Palm Pre. Nokias and Windows Mobile do not meet requirements
  • Mobile 2.0 users are enthusiastic about looking for information on their mobile, not like Mobile 1.0 which was slow and the devices were small screen and no touchscreen
  • If you launch a mobile application listen carefully to buyer feedback in the application store and harvest data about which devices are using your application most.
  • Similar price to do development for different mobile platforms. Blackberry and Android are based on Java but have subtle differences
  • Successful Application Case study #1: Urbanspoon Application for iPhone – restaurant finder for people who can’t make decisions. Shake the phone and get a local restaurant recommendation sold for $US10 million to IDC.

  • Successful Application Case study #2: Kraft iFood Assistant application for iPhone. 7000 recipes, shopping list, charges $1. Met their goals for application sales in 3 weeks because the application solved a problem

Dr Michael Harries from Citrix Labs spoke about Today Mobile Internet, Tomorrow What?. You can chat with Michael on Twitter @michaelharries

Dr Michael Harries

These are some points from Michael’s presentation:

  • In the future we will all travel with some handheld device with touchscreen and possibly keyboard.
  • He is not certain it is all about the iPhone more than 2 years on from now
  • Ambient devices could give us ubiquitous computing. Ambient orb uses color to show weather forecasts, trends in the market, or the traffic on your homeward commute. Similarly the Ambient umbrella lets you know when rain or snow is in the forecast by illuminating its handle. Light patterns intuitively indicate rain, drizzle, snow, or thunderstorms.
  • Current smartphone devices are not purpose built or perfect for a specific need but their strength is always being in your pocket and the ability to install applications to augment their capabilities.
  • In his book “Understanding Media” Marshall Lcluhan wrote that the medium is the message. We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us.
  • Professor Andy Clark author of Natural Born Cyborgs says our brains are pattern matching devices. For things brains aren’t good at we use tools like pen and paper in conjunction with our brains – while we use these tools they are an extension of our minds.

UX Session: User Experience, Key to Success

Lisa Herrod, Principle Consultant at Scenario Seven spoke about the business benefits of improving user experience. You can chat with Lisa on Twitter @scenariogirl

Lisa Herrod

These are some points from Lisa’s presentation:

User experience is the journey. Usability is the path. Lisa gives lots of little examples about how the experience of using a website can be made smoother and less painful for the end user.

Cost benefit ratio of doing user needs research is really clear. The average user interface is 40 flaws. Correcting even just the easiest to fix 20 flaws greatly improves user experience, helps to retain customers and get new ones, increase efficiency and productivity.

Look at all your channels and make the experience as cohesive and consistent as possible between your website, mobile website, print publications/ads, television content/ads and retail branding.

Oliver Weidlich, Director at Ideal Interfaces spoke about how mobile phone plans, the mobile web and mobile applications can be made more user friendly. You can chat with Oliver on Twitter @oliverw

He also helps run the Sydney chapter of Mobile Monday, an international mobile professionals networking night.

Oliver Weidlich

These are some points from Oliver’s presentation:

For the average customer who isn’t tech/gadget savvy:

  • the mobile web seems complex
  • there is low awareness that online content is available via mobile phone
  • the separate behaviour and design of hardware, OS, applications etc don’t make sense
  • there is too much irrelevant functionality
  • access to menus can be frustrating and customisation options hidden & difficult

70% of people use mobile phones for more than voice/SMS (MNET survey 2008). 31% used to make purchases. Use of location aware maps is rising fast as user experience improves. Views across mobile internet sites within Australia increased by 17.3% from Sept ’08 to Dec ’08.

Bad User Experience for Mobile

  • Same website for large screens and mobile
  • User interface and interaction not designed for mobile
  • Inconsistent behaviours
  • Each new mistake made in a mobile app snowballs until the user gives up in frustration

Good Mobile User Experience

  • *yawn* more iPhone is great information. We’ve heard all this before, new information please? What about up and coming contenders which might beat iPhone?
  • Oliver says the soon to be released Palm Pre potentially offers a better user experience than iPhone – now that’s an interesting statement.


  • Rethink website for mobile
  • Get the basics right, clean easy to read info first
  • People using mobile web are time poor, want info fast, not fancy graphics
  • Design for and know the devices currently in use and those soon to be released if possible

Social Influence Marketing / Social Media / Engaging with Social Networks Online

Ian Lyons, Social Media Director at Amnesia Razorfish spoke about the Theory and Practice behind Social Influence Marketing. You can chat with Ian on Twitter @ianlyons

Ian Lyons

These are some points from Ian’s presentation:

Giving the social web a go while mitigating the business risks is what this talk is about. Focusing on people not technology

Businesses exist to get customers. Social Influence marketing is about getting existing customers to evangelise your products/services.

Its not about mass media. It’s a ripple effect from 1 person to perhaps 100 and then onto their friends. Gives example of @servantofchaos tweeting about his Dell Mini 12.

3 Steps to Successful Social Influence Marketing

Social campaigns do not equal viral campaigns

  1. Start listening – it’s the most important thing you can do. Do you know what they re saying? You can learn where conversations are taking place, who is trusted voice speaking about you, find unmet needs. Use services like Google Trends, Google Alerts, Link Checkers to see who’s linking to your site, Realtime Twitter search
  2. Engage – how can you help them (help does not equal sales pitch)
  3. Develop strategy – who needs to be involved within organisation, what are the success metrics, how will you react to unexpected situations

Engagement Risks

Engagement Risk – Legal department delays of several days make responses too slow by which time the problem has snowballed

Whats the ROI (Risk of Ignoring)? – Ignoring issues online won’t make them go away.

Engagement Benefits

  • Surprise and delight customers. Improve brand perception by showing you care.
  • Don’t lead with a sell or marketing message – people don’t like pushy companies
  • Let your customer service people be the human voice.


  • Social is a way of doing business, not a one off campaign tactic
  • What are your business objectives?
  • How do you measure success?
  • Make it clear who who should take up specific responsibilities eg: CEO, Marketing team, frontline customer service.

There is no magical solution. Technology changes – humans don’t. Social networks form around common interests, background, friends etc. Can your idea be shared easily by video/image/link etc? Everything isn’t measurable – Move away from simple demographics and target behaviours and take the long term view.

Uniquely Unstructured Social Session with Active Participation of Audience

This was a team effort panel discussion with Laurel Papworth (Social Network Strategist), Stilgherrian (General Manager,, Kate Carruthers (Director, Digital Business Group), Nick Hodge (Professional Geek, Microsoft Australia) and Hugo Ortega (Principal, TegaTech)

Cebit WebForward Panel

These are some points from their discussion:

  • Social networking via mobile can be addictive
  • The world is changing, implications of social computing for IT departments
  • Things have changed, users are demanding their business applications are more easy to use just like the social web systems they use eg: Facebook
  • Business tempo used to be different. Projects took a year or months. IT departments aren’t setup to deal with this
  • Cultural Shift – business world used to be like an Opera, everyone knew the script. Now the world is like a old style circus with sideshow alley trying to separate you from your money. The people and has moved from scripted activities to random fun chaos
  • The big challenge of businesses engaging with social media is trying to be human when companies are designed to be rigid and using PR speak.. Being “authentic” means talking conversationally like a real person.
  • You cant control everything. Learn to let go – Don’t reacting like a “paranoid psychotic” control freak corporation
  • There will be people who don’t like you. Sometimes its not your fault, the customer is not always right.
  • Sometimes your company will f*ck up. Admit to the mistake and move on just as you would in real life as a person
  • Trust your staff – your staff will communicate and use their own language. Give them training, clear objectives and trust them to use their initiative

Cebit WebForward Panel sitting amongst the audience

This discussion on stage was followed by all the speakers moving off stage to sit with the audience! Chaos reigned for 20min and much was learnt by all. A brilliant concept that more conferences should do.

Web Analytics & Information Management

Sebastian Chan, head of Digital, Social & Emerging Technologies at the Powerhouse Museum spoke about the Future of the Web and the Semantic Web. You can chat with Sebastian on Twitter @sebchan

Sebastian Chan

These are some points from Sebastian’s presentation:

  • Semantic web is about linking up data. Making your content meaningful for machines.
  • Museums are full of data about stuff. Very small amount 5-7% on show physically.
  • Website allows more data to be discoverable by the public
  • Even low quality unstructured data has value to someone. Don’t just publish perfect structured data.
  • The way we describe things in the collection is not what users describe them! Labels are often different.
  • Museum data became hugely more valuable once technologies like tagging, map mashups etc were used to connect disparate data sources and together create new exciting sources of information
  • Case study 0xDB website – movie data sourced and linked together from stills from torrents, transcript from subtitles, cast/director and other info from IMDB

Rod Jacka, Managing Director at Panalysis spoke about Web Analytics packages and how to make sense of the data.

Rod Jacka

These are some points from Rod’s presentation which concentrated on Google Analytics as it is quite often used by small/medium sized business. I missed Rod’s talk at SMX Sydney 2009 so I was glad to get a chance to hear it today. What is a bounce ? when is it good and bad. Rod tried trying to give context to jargon like this.

  • Web Analytics can help to answer questions like how effective your site is at converting visitors to sales, subscribers, twitterers etc
  • Every visitor to your site isn’t equal . Huge spikes of traffic are not necessarily a good thing. It could be lots of people clicking on pay per click ads without buying or many people visiting your site from countries where you can’t sell your product/service
  • High bounce rates are not neccessarily bad – for example on an information rich Blog “Happy” bounce rate people could have found the exact info they were looking for at the 1st page they visited on your site.
  • Segment statistics like bounce rate by eg: New vs Returning customers, list of 10 most visited pages on a site to gain more meaningful information from the raw data.

CEBIT Webforward Conference Overview

I spent all my time in Session 2 and on the whole it was a far better experience than last years CEBIT E-marketing conference. The choice of Perth based consultant Justin Davies as session 2 Chair was sound as he kept the speakers to their time limits and made sure the audience asked questions and engaged with speakers. I was told by delegates that the speakers & content this year in Session 1 (SEO/Search/Ecommerce) weren’t as good as those in Session 2.

I’m currently writing a CEBIT overview article for Marketing Magazine where I’ll address issues such as the trade show, wireless internet access, selection process for conference speakers and more.

5 thoughts on “CEBIT Webforward Conference Review”

  1. Obviously, one of the hugest mistakes that people make in social media marketing is not building genuine connections, which will completely put you ahead of the game!

  2. Hey Neerav,

    Thanks for distilling your thoughts on the conference – really helpful because I spent most of my time in Stream 1 so it was good to see what I missed in Stream 2. Agreed about Justin Davies – I did some Stream 2 topics and he was by far the better chair.


  3. Neerav, you have done a great job at distilling the conference day here, which enabled me to enjoy it a second time. Thanks for your contribution during the day (and to Fiona above, who asked some really good questions during the day as well).

    Looking forward to more on your blog…

    All the best


  4. I’ll be interested to read your CeBIT overview. I find the event has rapidly decined in value add – both as an exhibitor and as a conference attendor. The quantity and quality leave a lot to be desired.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.