Getting face-to-face at TNW Europe

As much as we love using OpenTok to get face-to-face with colleagues, friends, and family all around the world, its still important to physically get out there and talk to users to hear how they feel about our product. Last week a few TokBoxers, including myself, took a trip to Amsterdam for the annual TNW Europe conference. The venue was beautiful, the sessions were insightful, but most of all the people in attendance made our experience meaningful.

It was quite flattering to talk to so many people who had heard of TokBox, knew about the OpenTok platform, and came by to wish us the best (okay, some of them probably just wanted the free motion-activated light up wristbands). We even had the pleasure of meeting some of our existing partners (like 24sessions and BeMyEyes). Talking to them in person was very valuable because not only did we get to hear what they liked about the product, but more importantly what they were excited about building next and what they needed from us to do it. We continued exchanging ideas over the food truck lunches and session breaks. It’s wonderful to really develop a relationship with these people because they aren’t just our customers, we call them our partners.


Then there were the attendees who hadn’t heard of TokBox and didn’t know what we do. Who can resist coming over to ask questions about this playful robot walking around making friends? So we took some time to explain OpenTok and what it’s meant to do to each of them.

The vision is that as technologies like cameras and networks and bandwidth rapidly improve, the experiences we have with technology have so much more to offer. All of the sudden we aren’t staring at screens of data and buttons, but interacting with people. While some companies pursue the digital assistant that can interact with you like a human, OpenTok is pursuing bringing actual human communication into all the apps that we use. Bridging the connection with your doctors, lawyers, family, friends, strangers, love interests, care takers, helpers, and everyone else becomes possible once real time communication is easy to use and build with.

For many of the uninitiated, light bulbs started going off! “This is going to change the world!”, I heard from a conference organizer. “Exactly, and this is just the beginning”, I said. And for those who didn’t see the vision right away, we learned a little more about the distance between where the world is now and our vision. “Why do I want a website to talk to me?” asked one attendee. “Well, have you ever seen a popup that told you to call a number for customer support?” “Yes.”, he said. “Well imagine if you didn’t need to press 1 for English and then 3 for billing and so on and so fourth. Imagine that there was someone right there who knew exactly where you needed help and could assist you without you needing to pick up the phone.” “Oh, so this is for customer service”, said the attendee. “Well, that’s one way to use OpenTok. There are plenty others too, just check out some of these demos…”, I said and I proceeded to show him some of our demo apps.

Its clear that there’s a lot left for us to accomplish about showing the world what is possible with WebRTC and OpenTok. But its the partners out there that solve concrete problems, and do so with careful thought and design, that really help us share our vision. With that we’d like to thank The Next Web for the opportunity to be there, for putting together a great show, and we’ll see you next year in Amsterdam!