Last week, I went to NEXT Berlin, a conference with a focus on the digital future and start-ups. I’ve already been there last year and left with many things to think about. All in all, it had changed my perspective on certain things. I guess as I’ve followed up all the topics and speaker that thrilled me, it was no surprise that this time my horizon wasn’t broadened quite as much as last year. And I have to say I came across more talks that were mere promotion for the company of the speaker.
Nevermind. I got to see some great talks, met nice people and took some conclusions home with me.
Build platforms not products
Don’t fight, facilitate! @customdeluxe
Already in the opening keynote, Marina Gorbis (@mgorbis) was talking about the rise of socialstructed production. Until now, we needed organizations to lower transaction costs like costs of connection, coordination and trade. The internet lowers these costs and enables a production system of aggregated micro contributions by individuals.
In other words: Many people are able to offer many different products on the market, and the best chance for a successful business on a large scale lies within providing a platform where entrepreneurs will find their customers and a retail structure at low cost and with a high amount of trust.
And that’s exactly what highly successful business like Etsy, Airbnb or the limousine service Uber have done. All three companies were present at NEXT and part of a panel called „The Disruptors“. But also in the track about service design, @customdeluxe mentioned not to fight changes in your market and be upset, but to facilitate people.
It’s all about data – and PEOPLE.
Harper Reed, who successfully managed Obama’s data driven re-election campaign, was the most entertaining speaker at NEXT. You should watch his talk. He basically said that there are three things you need to make a good product:
- build a great team
- practice failure
Especially in the part of microlistening he made clear that it is not only about collecting data. They had to listen to people a lot and respond in individual ways. Also, they used their data to make the work of their volunteers more sufficient. They made sure that they only knocked on the right doors, and in return, made them fill out questionaires about their work on a daily basis.
All the companies of the disruptors panel are really good with data as well. And that means, that they do not only collect it, but feed it back to their people. At Etsy, the sellers get a lot of insights about their businesses – what works well, what doesn’t, so they can improve. At Uber, the information gathered is used to predict the places the service might be needed and their drivers get instructions on where to go next.
The future of work needs to be built by us
I attended a workshop about the future of work organised by @jkleske, @happyschnitzel and @fraeulein_tessa. We were to split in four groups that represented the legislative authority, the employer, the employee and the educational system and had to come up with assumptions on how the workplace of the future would ideally look like.
I was part of the group that had to represent the legislative authority, and I must admit, that was a hard task. We all agreed that founders need more security and voted for a basic income, and make it easier to be employed and self-employed at the same time. But the hard part was the better compatibility of family and career. We talked about the fact, that often, parents and specially mothers face the problem that they need to leave on time and need more flexible working hours, but that this is not easy for the companies to organize. So we came up with the rather crazy idea of a „parental quota“. I’m not sure this would work out, but for sure, this session opened my mind.
The direction of the other groups was quite clear: It was all about life long and self organized learning, facilitated by the employer, and contracts that allowed for individual solutions, with employees seeing themselves as entrepreneurs and employers being facilitators.
Once again, it was clear that there is not one solution that can be achieved through laws, but that we all – companies and employees the same – have to contribute to achieve our vision of a great workplace.
Diversity makes every team better. Sue already wrote about that.
Google Glass wins
When it comes to Google Glass, I must admit that I was quite fascinated. Of course, there are many aspects concerning privacy and culture to be taken into consideration – but seeing Glass in action, I was quite sure I would want to use one. Moreover, the first reports of @scobleizer are enthusiastic.