Having just got back from this year’s The Next Web summit in Amsterdam, and having had a chance to decompress, it seemed like a good time to share some of the highlights. The conference itself sees well over 10,000 travel to the city from all over the world to hear from an amazing array of  big names from major businesses including Nike, Wikipedia, Microsoft and various governments. Compared to a lot of run-of-the-mill events, TNW 19 really did stand out. Here are some of the messages that stayed with us after the event. . .

Re-learn to trust your gut

Red Bull considers themselves a media company – they just so happen to sell drinks! As part of this, they do a lot with extreme athletes at adrenaline-fuelled events around the world.

Andrew Gall, Chief Innovation officer from Red Bull, was sharing his experience of filming an extreme athlete who had decided he wanted to ride his bike down a competition grade ski run – as you do! During the run, whilst the athlete was hooked up to a whole range of sensors, the readings showed a massive adrenaline spike for seemingly no reason. A full three seconds later he came off his bike. His biology knew more about what was going on than hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of recording equipment. Andrew went on to talk about how we have all forgotten how to trust our gut, and how important this can be.

Red bull, a global media business, made the controversial decision to move entirely out of traditional media and into digital media in 2018 – this was done on the basis of partial data but primarily on gut instinct. In 2018, group revenue grew by almost a quarter of a billion dollars!

Perhaps we should all remember to trust our gut a little more.

Customers care more about time

Almost every business we work with, and pretty much any business anywhere will recognise the strategic importance of a solid customer experience. But what does this mean in practice?

Robert Viz, Founder of Message Bird shared his thoughts here and, for 2019 and beyond, all the data suggests this is all about time.

In the 20th century, retail was all about having your store in the most convenient location, during the nineties and noughties this became about the best digital experience. Now this is about mobile and apps – global mobile penetration is expected to reach 65% this year with 46% of all e-commerce transactions done via mobile. This trend highlights the importance of saving time, and providing a great customer experience, in order to generate sales.

The importance of customer experience cannot be overstated, and this is growing: 86% of people said they would pay more for better customer experience and, tellingly, customer experience is predicted to overtake price AND product to be the key brand differentiator in 2019/20!

The key takeaway here was very clear – businesses will win by saving their customers time and by making ‘it’ easy.

There’s a fine line between creativity and chaos

Lastly, some interesting takeaways from Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia. Whilst reciting his story of starting the latest single collection of knowledge the world has ever seen, he talked a bit about competing viewpoints.

Wikipedia was initially a team of academics and students, as time progressed, this team mix moved towards mostly developers. Whilst a hugely creative group, some of these developers were very headstrong, considering themselves ‘cyber anarchists’ with very differing views on what Wikipedia should be. Larry shared that “Basically my whole job in the first year was to reign-in all of these differing opinions”.

An interesting insight into the history of, what is now, one of the cornerstones of the internet. And an interesting reminder of the need to straddle the fine line between creativity and chaos to create something great.