Finally, a business in South Africa (SA) has hosted a conference of international standard. What made the BCX summit world class was that through the speakers, the audience listened, engaged and thought about SA with a broader and global context, which is exactly what is needed! This is the same sort of engagement I have when attending conferences abroad. Unfortunately, too often conferences in SA tend to be inward focused in terms of content and topic of thought. To me this is the mistake and limits expansion of thought, new perspectives and development of original ideas.
As promised, here are my key takes outs from the two conferences.
Shoptalk - Copenhagen, Denmark
Amazon Pay – VP, Patrick Gauthier. Amazon teams start each new project with an internal press-release and work backwards. They ask themselves, ‘how will this read to the customer?’ and ‘is it worth doing for the customer?'
Eataly (Italian food hall marketplace) – MD Germany, Fabian Reiden. Idea of city centric vs. country centric e.g. selling cheese from Modena vs. Italy. We see this in culture too, think NY/London/Cape Town vs. the rest of US/UK/SA. A business should then tailor their offering to be city specific. On people, they hire for passion of product. They look for people who love food and have ability to learn.
Lesara (discount fashion retailer) – CEO, Roman Kirsch. Focus on mobile as 75% of their customers only have a mobile phone (with no access to a PC), hugely similar to SA mass market. As a result, 50% of their developers’ time is spent at malls interacting with the customer and on their phones using the platform.
MatchesFashion.com (luxury retailer) – CEO, Ulric Jerome. Their aim to create a lifestyle destination by being everything to someone vs. something to everyone. When reading their content, you can shop that story without being directed elsewhere.
Rapha (cycle clothing) – Retail Director, Adam Hockney. Their physical stores are community hubs, they bring people together, create friendships and a place for people to express themselves through a cycling experience. Before they set up a permanent shop, they deploy a mobile van to meet cyclists on the road to test if the cycling community welcomes them to their city.
BCX Disrupt - Johannesburg, South Africa
Avant Game (computer gaming) – Creative Director, Jane McGonigal. The opposite of work is not play, it’s depression. She proposed the idea of continuous play, which can be anything from video games, to yoga, ball sports and even in elements of your day job. Furthermore, she proved that (video) gaming brings people together. I thought this to be an unexpected team-building tool.
Lego – Global Director Social Media, Lars Silberbauer. The goal of his team is to be the best at change. Furthermore, he encourages front-line employees to make decisions and uses bots, stickers and GIFs when scaling customer service interactions.
Malcom Gladwell. Focus on solving the human problem vs. the technical problem. In time technology will become a commodity.
BCX (ICT) – CEO, Ian Russell. Create a platform based business for your customers, think Uber/Airbnb. If you shift your business model, keep your ‘engine one’ revenue stream running, while you focus on developing ‘engine two’.
In Summary: Escape your everyday and engage with the outside world (e.g. through conferencing) to listen, develop original ideas, meet new people and importantly gain context.