Posted: Thu 25th Apr 2013
Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones is in New York this week for the annual Innovation Uncensored conference organised by the Fast Company, where entrepreneurs and business experts from across the globe gather to discuss the ideas that are shaping our world. For Emma, the message was clear - the future is fast, and engaging.
My annual visit to the Innovation Uncensored conference is a once in a year opportunity to leave the UK, distance myself from the detail, and work on the business rather than in it. It's a chance to sit back, listen to experts and consider the direction of Enterprise Nation - as well as coming up with new ideas. This year I listened to 33 speakers over seven hours and am now responding to the request from our editor to sum this up in the form of a single message that came across most strongly at the event.
That message, I would say, is around 'speed' and 'engagement'. "It's a faster world," said youth campaigner and social entrepreneur, Nancy Lublin. "People in your trade don't sleep," said fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg to tech entrepreneur and Twitter creator, Jack Dorsey. "Because if you sleep, you just know that someone younger and brighter is doing something smarter than you. Everything moves so fast now."
"People in tech don't sleep. If you sleep, you know that someone younger and brighter is doing something smarter than you."
Diane von Furstenberg
Act fast. Prepare first.
Speed to market is critical in the modern business environment. Staying nimble is vital, too. But Bonin Bough, the marketing man behind Oreo's much-praised social media campaigns, made a valid point in referencing the amount of planning that lies behind fast action. He was referring to a tweet at the Superbowl that got millions of people talking about Oreo. Time had been dedicated, however, in the previous 100 days to "flexing the company's mental muscle" to be ready for this moment, said Bonin.
The message? 'Act fast. Prepare first.'
Emotional engagement and the 21st century consumer
Amid the talk of speed, there was repeated reference to tapping into emotions and engaging with customers through partnerships, causes, communities, social media, online and off. Critically, what I sensed was the desire on the part of big business (and there were many of them speaking, including Starbucks, Coca Cola, Google, Intel and Walmart) to have a conversation with customers, as opposed to pushing products at them.
"I've previously come away thinking 'We must do this or that'. But this year was confirmation that we're on the right track at Enterprise Nation."
In my view, this represents a great opportunity for small businesses to approach big ones and suggest partnerships where you help the larger company engage and appear authentic. I'm going to give more thought to this and blog about the topic with concrete suggestions for you over the next couple of months.
In previous years, I've come away from this event thinking 'We must do this' or 'We must do that'. But this year, for me, was more about confirmation that we're on the right track at Enterprise Nation.
That confirmation can be as important as the eureka moment of coming up with new ideas, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it doesn't mean we'll stop innovating as a business and moving at speed to serve the small businesses that make up our Enterprise Nation.
Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation