By David McCaughan
I get to go to a lot of conferences. I get talk at a lot of conferences, company events, workshops. The last few weeks I was the after lunch speaker at an effectiveness awards conference in Singapore, talked at a workshop for an organization that does economic infrastructure studies in Asia out of it’s Jakarta office, then a luxury personal care brand company event in Tokyo and the same day a real estate market conference. AND then I flew to Atlanta for IIeX.
It says it in the name. Ideas and Insights. It’s fast, it’s hard selling, it’s a bit brash. Most industry conferences use a form of apartheid to separate what happens in the conference hall from the trade show outside. Speakers can’t promote etc. Vendors only get to talk in the meeting rooms in breaks when most people are racing to go mingle around the snacks outside. But this IIeX virgin found the lack of such barriers refreshing. Companies presented what they wanted to sell. Speakers held back or pushed themselves as they saw fit.
But there was more. Exchange sessions that really opened up thought.
Of course there were sessions I was not that interested in, there were vendors who I can forgive for not taking much interest once they had sussed I am a self employed free lancer on the other side of the world, and as has to happen there were some speakers who did not do justice to their story, but what can you expect? There were the usual subjects. Too much regurgitation that big data and mobile and gaming are big. Sure we all know that, old news.
Having said that there was lot’s of inspiration :
- J. Walter Smith started the first day with probably the biggest thought of the three days : the idea that is easier to track trends by looking at what is going away rather than what is coming. The latter are always likely to disappear, the former indicate big things happening. The art is in figuring what they lead too but he used the great example that the disappearance of younger marriages leads to a whole raft of needs for greater connection in new ways and hence the “kinship economy”. Hence social media, technology and flesh and blood interactions are booming.
- Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew talked about social capital and diversity with passion. She suggested there is not enough space for “disoriented dilemma breaking”, the situations where we are forced to mix with “others”. Not our regular circles but expanded networks. The risk of the digital world is that we accidentally encounter less. She suggests we need to do less “bonding ( with those like us ) and more “bridging” ( with new relationships ) … which seemed very much in the IIeX spirit to me.
- Rick West was a passionate proselytiser for the internet of everything and how that will bring us closer to understanding what people are thinking now rather than what they thought. In his formal presentation and then the next day in discussion sessions we had great discussions about my toilet stories and his ideas on how to use linked devices of all kinds to paint better pictures of behavior.
- David Brudenell raised the well worn subject of dealing with Millennials and asking “ are you a good employer brand”. The research was not terribly new but the conclusion that understanding what they think is good leadership will be a key investment in staff happiness but also advice to clients.
- Holly Demuro inspired with a simple thought : in an omni-channel world the voice of the customer get’s harder to track because we have quite simply to now start listening to all their conversations. And hence most VOC programs start with a rush of success in fixing “a” problem and then plateau as they fail to deal with the intricacies of reported and non reported, off-line/on-line needs
- Mary Tarczynski mentioned that there are now 1.8 billion photos posted somewhere every day and then explained technology to spot trends across them. Given my own interest in the movement back to the historically normal form of literacy and the boom of graphic literacy in mediums like LINE I was inspired to find out more about her approach.
And much much more. Of course I could complain that there was not enough on other subjects I work in like cross culture analysis and the absence of discussion and new work with the 65-90 year olds is frustrating. But I did not expect IIeX to cover everything. I thought I would get some new ideas and see some cool technology … it was there in spades.
Glad I went, looking forward to going again and hoping Lenny and the team get the format to Asia soon!
Dave McCaughan, Bibliosexual
After 28 years with world leading advertising agency McCann as planning director first in Australia and then across Asia dave has now embarked on a new adventure in provoking new thoughts and telling stories for companies across the Asia Pacific region. Dave has lived in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo and now Hong Kong again, made hundreds of business trips across the region, dealt with dozens of major brands and spoken at over 500 conferences. He is a bibliosexual and wants to explain what that really means to you. He is also currently the editor of Research World Connect.