Last week the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam was filled with 3,500 individuals for the TNW conference 2015. To discuss the latest web trends, learn about best business practices and meet the world’s influencers of technology & innovation. The 10th edition of the European conference took place on April 23 and 24, 2015.
Disruption, digital transformation, innovation and startups were the main topics of this year’s conference. Great speakers and a pleasant startup vibe made the former gas factory Westergasfabriek a great place to be. And let’s not forget the spectacular lights and visuals in the main Red Room, that made the conference even more spectacular. Check out the opening show of the second day to understand what I mean.
CTO of Amazon Werner Vogels kicked off the conference, discussing how Amazon boosts innovation. He talked about the Amazon leadership principles that every employee has to meet: Customer obsession, ownership, invent and simplify, are right (a lot), hire and develop the best, insist on the highest standards and think big. Oh and that Powerpoint is forbidden in meetings (yeah!) since it works against innovative thinking. Amazon motivates employees to come up with ideas and discuss these ideas in small – two pizza – team (no more people than you can feed with two pizzas). “Be stubborn on vision, be flexible on details” Werner said. Aaron Shapiro of Huge mentioned that innovation is about solving problems; great products solve a problem for people. It’s not about the product itself but the problem it solves.
And then there was Andrew Green, author of “The internet is not the answer”. A critical talk about all that’s wrong with our internet economy, according to Andrew. He was immediately trending topic on Twitter in the Netherlands and well deserved it! A small quote of many: “The Internet is a complete failure. Not more democracy, no long tail. Instead winner-take-all companies”. He mentioned nobody is winning and earning money, besides a few large winner-take-all companies. I hope The Next Web will publish a video of his talk so you have a chance to see it (make sure you do!).
A lot of talk about disruption this conference. Taxi app Uber was named an example in many talks, disrupting the transportation industry. Gary Shapiro of CEA questioned if disruptive entrepreneurs and companies like Uber compete fairly with the legacy businesses that are refusing to adopt this cutting-edge technology and business models. Also disruption in the media industry, Brandan Gahan of Epic Signal works with brands on their YouTube influencers campaigns. He showed that YouTube producers are in many cases much more successful than traditional producers and are now hired by brands to build communities on YouTube.
Martin Gill of Forrester discussed disruption of the board room. It’s common that the boardroom is blocking innovation, how can we change this? 39% Of CEO’s set digital strategy, while only 21% of executives think this strategy is clear. Most of them have based that strategy on flawed assumptions. But what’s more, they are going about delivering it in the wrong way. Digital business demands a new approach – a mindset shift in how you plan, organize for and deliver change into your business, yet too few companies have woken up to the new reality they now operate in.
Gabe Zigermann of Gamification.co closed the conference with his keynote about gamification. He started off talking about how you can create an industry instead of a company. And how you can make people do anything when you make it fun. Gamification is becoming more and more important and a great way to make work fun again and make people care about their jobs.
Former Dutch minister and EU commissioner Neelie Kroes opened the conference, promoting the Dutch startup scene. She is ambassador of Startup Delta, promoting the Dutch innovation Hubs as Europe’s West coast for startups. And they’re doing a great job! Did you know booking.com, wetransfer, Travelbird and of course TheNextWeb are all Dutch startups? By the way, during the opening of the conference an inspiring video was shown about Amsterdam and the startup scene.
Part of the conference was the startup boot camp and Boost program where startups could pitch their products and ideas and win a 100.000 Euro capital investment. Winner of the Boost program was startup Somewhere.
Looking back to the conference I had a great time. I enjoyed the quality of the speakers, the great vibe, lights and visuals and talks with other inspiring and inspired visitors. The Tweet below shows that I’m not the only one! Oh and let’s not forget the awesome coffee that was freshly brewed by baristas. Looking forward to next years conference, hope to meet you there!
— Tobias Mauel (@TobiasMauel) 23 april 2015