MadMinds Europe 2016: Digital is hard, but fun


I’ve just spent a couple of days at the MadMinds Europe 2016 conference, where I spoke, but also listened to some excellent presentations and people about their successes and frustrations.

Here are 6 insights I gleaned from the 2 days…

1. Digital is blooming hard work

There’s occasionally the external perception that when someone launches something new,  or even creates a new app, that it took just a few weeks.

In fact, I still hear surprise from non-digital folks that you can’t just ‘knock up a new microsite’ in a couple of weeks, much less whether it’s even the right idea.

So whether it was Sean Cornwell from Travelex or Rouven Daniel from Schaeffler, it’s both refreshing to hear people speak with such passion about a digital process, and also that it often takes years.

That’s not to say every digital project should be long and drawn out, more that everyone spoke with such clarity about the hard yards and stages that are required to be successful.

2. It’s the ‘why’, not the ‘what’ that matters

It’s some years now since Simon Sinek first explained his ‘golden circle’ and that ‘why’ should always be at the heart of what we do.

However, there are still places where that message hasn’t sunk in. Thankfully, the likes of Paul Thomas from EE/BT made a point of emphasising it, and many others highlighted user needs over business needs.

3. Data is a tough nut to crack

Now, I’m not a data expert by any means, but from all the conversations I’ve listened to, data is still a massive issue for almost everyone (aside from one chap who said 88% of his firm’s business comes from just 20 clients).

Data remains siloed, incomplete or just plain difficult to manipulate in the way people want.

I’m sure all the data solutions providers think they can solve these problems, but sometimes it’s down to internal issues.

4. Social media can be tricky for B2B firms

This is obviously a generalisation and some places manage the issue, but lots of the B2B people I listened to and spoke with clearly don’t prioritise social media, because the ROI isn’t clear enough.

5. We all want to be more innovative, but probably don’t have the remit

Mat Braddy – former CEO of Just Eat – espoused the notion that we should all try ‘new fads’ as they’re often relatively cheap and could be a game changer in a way you’d never anticipate.

He suggested everyone should try Virtual Reality headsets, as an example.

Similarly, although Google’s Golden Krishna was ostensibly talking about reducing interfaces, he was clearly advocating breaking down the process and working out how to do it all differently, citing Lockitron as an example.

6. Emotion, emotion, emotion

The final takeaway – and one very close to my heart – is that making people feel something is key to getting your message across.

On social media this is obvious – elegantly explained by Zurich’s Monika Schulze – even in a B2B context, but it also applies to all our content, in general.

I also saw huge passion and emotion from the people who work for the companies represented at MadMinds and – if that is anything to go by, there’s little doubt that emotion will remain a core part of everyone’s business.

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