It takes a while to process the multiplicity of the two-day tech conference Next, which happened in the middle of the four-day Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg. The conversation flowed between consumer trends and music hype, pop-culture, and up-and-coming innovations. At NEXT15, business, lifestyle and technology mingle together and can no longer be separated.
This years theme, “How will we live?”, explored all the implications of the next software, wearables, and digital innovations. What does this mean for your business and industry? How does this change the customer expectations? What are the new ways to serve basic human needs? What are the new business models and organizational frameworks that make it possible to serve more people more efficiently?
The romantic business
Although the conference covered many topics, including mobility, productivity, drones, exponential growth, shopping, gaming, and design, one theme stuck out: the intertwining of our lives with data, and how it affects us.
Tim Leberecht, the Author of "The Business Romantic" talked about the way our lives have become so data-based, explicit, and public that nothing is intimate and personal anymore. Our life choices are increasingly based on numerical data, social recognition, and solution-based applications. Many people now live with the assumption that if we have a huge amount of information about an issue, we will be able to figure out an ideal solution, and that solution will ultimately make us happier.
Tim posits that in a high tech world like ours, a little extra romance and mystery are more than needed. He reminds us that emotions and purpose are still the most powerful selling tools for businesses, and if we are to create the next big tech innovation, we should remember to turn to human nature and see how can we make it more people-centered and less data-centered. He reminds us that the ultimate purpose of organizations is to create value for humans, and not to utilize the latest technological discovery.
He suggests four approaches to develop businesses that appeal to the modern romantics, yet stay rooted in the 21st century.
1) Bring purpose and emotion closer to your business
People engage with things that they find touching and meaningful, so if you and your colleagues stay strongly connected with the ultimate purpose of your venture, the audience will feel not only closer to the brand but the people working for it.
2) Find the big in the small
“The opposite of loneliness is not togetherness, it’s intimacy”He suggest that there are many ways to be connected superficially with people nowadays, but people have never felt more lonely because we have lost the ability to connect deeply with each other. He hopes to see more initiatives that prioritize quality of relationships over quantity, that can demonstrate the powerful connection that presence builds.
3) Keep the Mystique
Our desire for completeness irresistibly attracts us towards mysteries. In a world of #TMI, everything we want to know about is just a click away and to captivate us you just have to…
4) Suffer (a little)
Think about your greatest success or happiest moment in your life so far. Did it get delivered by the Amazon drone at your home? Or was it when you finally got that drone to fly? It seems like every new invention is geared to make our lives even easier, and to bring us more comfort and simplicity. Guess what?
“I do not want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin.”
We do not want the greatest things in life to be easy. We want them to be challenging, inspiring, provocative. We want achieve them not just get them. Then why as businesses do we often offer people simplicity instead of greatness?
Tim’s story serves as a reminder that our most basic needs – for intimacy, completeness, identification with a purpose, belonging, and achievement, are often not considered enough in the tech world.