The 2014 Infinitive Digital BrainFest is in the books and – based on attendee feedback – the event was a big success. It’s interesting to me how each Digital BrainFest has a unique feel and mood, with different big ideas and hot topics framing the conversations.
This year, there was much discussion about “bottom-up” innovation. Thanks largely to cloud and mobile computing, companies are getting great ideas and sparks for innovation from every level of the enterprise.
They can design and develop new products more quickly, deliver solutions at higher velocity and enter new markets faster than ever before. However, the challenge of moving a 1,000-person organization in the same direction remains just as hard. Despite its difficulty, however, digital transformation should be a top priority as it enables companies to do amazing new things.
Why Digital Transformation Is So Cool: Welcome Address Recap
To open Digital BrainFest, I shared a story from early in my career. Here’s a recap of that story, and how it illustrates the utter coolness of digital transformation.
I was working long hours on a project involving telecom billing software, a gig I consider incredibly unfun. My buddies had a beach weekend planned and I couldn’t join them as I had a major project milestone just ahead. Instead of tropical drinks and beach volleyball, I would spend the weekend reviewing new formatting and text options on the invoices of a huge telecom company.
This painful memory from the early years of my consulting career has stayed with me. Like a lot of young people, I was convinced that the truly innovative action was happening on other projects and at other companies. I longed to be working on groundbreaking new business models or revolutionary new products.
Fast forward to a few months ago. Early one weekend morning, I get an Amazon recommendation for the Steve Jobs lost interview, from 1995. I had a few minutes to watch, and as the video loaded, I figured I’d learn something about Jobs’ earliest vision for what the Internet could be.
Would he already have a plan to disrupt the music industry, for instance? Would he have a proto-iPad to show? Instead, when asked about the hottest areas for innovation and what he thought was “a cool space,” Jobs replied, “Telecom billing software.”
I just about fell out of my chair. Steve Jobs thought telecom business software was cool? Steve Jobs thought I was cool all those years ago?
This reinforced what I have come to know at Infinitive: Innovation must occur not just in products, but in every interaction with our customers.
In the broader context of the today’s digital world, it’s easier to see how many critical roles there are to play in revolutionizing how companies engage with consumers, develop products and deliver rich experiences.
From integrating digital advertising platforms with back-office systems, to figuring out how to format big data streams for easier analysis of customer preferences, there are countless moving parts as businesses and society undergo this huge digital transformation we are all living through.
In other words, Digital BrainFest 2014 reminded me just how many of us are working on things Steve Jobs would think are very cool.
My 5 Top Digital #BrainFest14 Ideas & Insights
As usual, our various speakers and panelists were generous in sharing their big ideas and unique perspectives. Some of my favorite takeaways from Digital BrainFest 2014:
1. From IBM’s Don Rippert
In his keynote address, Don made clear that we’re still in the earliest stages of cloud-based transformation (maybe just at the “end of the beginning”). He also confirmed the key role Scott McNealy’s dog Network made in designing the earliest cloud computing models (but you probably already knew that).
2. From Brian Ballard, CEO of Upskill (formerly APX Labs)
He provided a completely cool overview of Skybox for Google Glass, an app for Google’s wearable tech product that aims to transform the way fans watch live sports. Brian loves to ask “why not” when it comes to asking about digitally-driven consumer experiences. Certainly, that’s a great question for businesses looking to adapt wearable tech in transforming how different types of audiences view, consume and navigate information in the future.
3. From Advertising.com‘s Don Kennedy
Don highlighted just how much fragmentation remains in the digital advertising space – especially in the sense of the many “tech taxes and tolls” that stop publishers from realizing the lion’s share of revenue as they look to sell their audiences and monetize their content. Indeed, complexity in the digital advertising environment is a big part of our focus here at Infinitive.
4. From Author Chris Schroeder
Chris had eye-opening information about global digital trends. Who knew that Kenya is the leading mobile payments market on earth, as measured in aggregate dollars? It’s easy to stay heads-down in our corners of the digital world, and risk overlooking the exciting innovation and disruption that’s going on globally.
5. From Tim Hale of Coastal Cloud
Tim is excited by the shifts in the sourcing world. Again, the cloud is enabling faster, lower-cost delivery from anywhere. Tim, who looked great in his Aloha shirt, mentioned several times how close his company’s headquarters are to the beach in Florida – a location enabled by the cloud.