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Oct 31, 2014 @ 04:10 by Alexander Voss

Thought Leaders On Digital Transformation – Key Insights From NYC

How can you best recruit digital talent? Has your product still got a value in its own right? How is media consumption really changing? What makes millennials tick? Will customers ever be paying for content? What are 1 billion views anyways? How can data potential really be unlocked? Why does Google not take part in the data privacy discussion?

How can you best recruit digital talent? Has your product still got a value in its own right? How is media consumption really changing? What makes millennials tick? Will customers ever be paying for content? What are 1 billion views anyways? How can data potential really be unlocked? Why does Google not take part in the data privacy discussion?

These and other questions were discussed by thought leaders during our first own INSIDE NYC Summit – giving a select group of C-level executives an inside look into the unique mediatech, start-up and innovation culture of New York. A culture, that has led business and marketing trends worldwide – and grown local companies such as Etsy, DoubleClick, Tumblr, Gilt Group, Warby Parker, and digg.

Hosted by media and technology thought leaders, such as ebay, Hearst, 360i, and eMarketer, Inside NYC combined insight into key trends with intimate networking opportunities and immersive experiences in NYC’s media and technology scenes.

4 days, 34 speakers and so many inspiring ideas and discussions. It is absolutely impossible to summarize this event but provide you with some insights into key discussions.

The war for digital talent

The war for digital talent is considerably slowing down the digital transformation of many businesses today. It is just too hard to find and also retain the right talent. So, how to best go about it?

  • Data is in our DNA and a major lever for accepted improvements in our way to do business. Google uses data not only for its search algorithms but also to analyze and predict employee development, improve managerial skills and workforce efficiency. (Brian Welle, Head of People Analytics Google)
  • Leadership potential can be predicted on specific characteristics such as curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. Based on years of experience in hiring top executives, Egon Zehnder is focusing mainly on a few key character traits. (Magnus Graf Lambsdorff, Egon Zehnder)
  • The more digital experts are proceeding in their careers, the more they are forced to become generalists. Are we really making the most out of our experts’ skills? (Leif Abraham, Partner Prehype)
  • Try often, fail fast. We skip job interviews and solely focus on developers’ performance on the job. They stay on, if they constantly show visible progress in their tasks. (Amol Sarva, Founder Knotable)

The revolution of media, content and storytelling

The media sector was one of the first sectors to be entirely shaken up by the digital transformation. However, content and storytelling seems to be more in demand as ever before. How is the role of content changing exactly for media but also for businesses?

  • Many media products nowadays do not have a value in its own right anymore. They are mainly used to help sell other things. Ask yourself what the role of your product is for your customers and retailers – and what this means for the future of your business. (Thomas Hesse, Media Executive and Entrepreneur & Former Member of the Executive Board Bertelsmann)
  • Do not waste too much time thinking about distribution of content, but about the daily habits of consumers and how to be part of it. Hearst has transformed its organization by building central content services around platform, commercialization, shared insights & creation across Hearst publications. (Troy Young, President Hearst Digital Media)
  • Old advertising metrics do not work anymore in the digital era. Still, the industry continues to ignore the impact of earned media and focuses on working media metrics. These old formulas are counter-incentives to invest in compelling content and experiences that need to be at the center of how we connect with customers. Companies have to rethink success metrics and start with zero-based budgeting. (Bryan Wiener, Chairmen 360i)
dgroup at INSIDE NYC Summit
dgroup at INSIDE NYC Summit

The innovators disrupting e-commerce

E-commerce in many sectors is already quite developed. Big players and specialists have claimed the space. To compete against them, data, differentiation and real added value is crucial for success.

  • Direct consumer relationships are a true differentiator – use consumer feedback, make consumers feel like stakeholders. Two months old startup Harry’s built a fully vertically integrated razor company and bought one of the few independent razor manufacturers Feintechnik for $100 M to secure supply. Its brand is built around trust and authenticity – it encourages direct consumer response and uses feedback for product development. (Andy Katz-Mayfield, Co-Founder & Co-CEO Harry’s)
  • Content can be a major factor of differentiation in e-commerce. For businesses, content and storytelling is a long-term game, though. Too many businesses expect too much too soon and drop out of using content effectively. However, if brands do not invest in building emotional connections with stories and content, there might just be Amazon in the end. (Sebastian Kaufmann, CEO & Founder Kaufmann Mercantile on innovators disrupting e-commerce)
  • We started Truefit to reduce high return rates in the fashion business – and were impressed how conversion rates were also lifted when it was implemented. Truefit provides personal size & fit recommendations for customers of Nordstrom, Macy’s, Zalando etc. (Romney Evans, Co-Founder Product and Marketing True Fit Corporation)

Smart data needs people and creativity to unlock its value

Integrating data from several sources with personal, behavioral and contextual information is leading to the next evolution in digitalization. Data fuels smarter applications and a deeper integration of digital into our daily life.

  • Movement and contextual data to inform decision making. Placemeter turns movement on streets and in stores into data – currently with 600 cameras in NYC and helps with retail site selection, urban planning and advertising. (Alex Winter, Founder & CEO Placemeter)
  • Performance of a website’s content and products is crucial for business success. Tools will help to adjust displayed content in regards to customers’ real-time behavior and engagement. (John Schwartz, Chief Data Scientist Chartbeat)
  • In the end data unlocks possibility – but humans will create the experience that really makes a difference. It is all about using data as a basis for creativity, art and content to create value. (Janet Balis, Partner and CRO betaworks)

At the edge of disruption in economic development

The development of digital industries is driven not only by businesses, but also by Government and Venture Capital to ensure that infrastructure and talent is available.

  • There is a correlation between engineers and growth of digital sectors. The state of New York has therefore founded new technology universities to attract and develop the right talent and simultaneously attract digital businesses. (Kyle Kimball, President New York City Economic Development)
  • The New York venture capital focus is on fintech, programmatic software, health care IT and media (Ian Sigalow, Co-Founder & Partner Greycroft)
  • Instead of investing in an incubator, businesses should rather invest in people that want to solve a puzzle no one has ever solved. This can be better accomplished by running competitions on specific problems the business is interested in solving. (Ian Sigalow, Co-Founder & Partner Greycroft)

Building connected products and brands

Everyone tries to innovate. But what does it really take to be innovative long-term?

  • It is all about pushing digital into the real world and the real world into digital – connecting both worlds and innovating product, services and communication simultaneously, see NIKE+ and beats (Nick Coronges, VP Technology Partner R/GA Ventures)
  • For really innovative projects, the key is to work on one vertical slice of the customer experience at a time – and get it right, working cross-functionally. This is how we work, to ensure that the end experience is just right. (Nick Coronges, VP Technology Partner R/GA Ventures)
  • The more personal the input a consumer provides, the smarter will the system be or become. (Nick Coronges, VP Technology Partner R/GA Ventures)

Understanding the Millenials

Generation Y is the first generation born and raised in a digitalized environment with a distinct media consumption behavior and expectations, as the Cassandra Report shows.

  • They are aware of their very limited time for media and content. 1/3 of millenials wait to see, if there is a second season to a series before they start watching it and they gain great pleasure from bingeing (watching several episodes of a series in a row) in their alone time. (Joe Kessler, CEO and President Noise)
  • Social media defines their perception of trends and developments. 74% use social media to stay current and 68% perceive something as popular, even without it receiving top ratings or rankings. (Joe Kessler, CEO and President Noise)
  • Millenials get increasingly cautious with what they share with their network. Millenials define themselves with what they listen to, watch, support and share. But it is becoming increasingly difficult for advertisers to get their content shared. 68% want to discover (and share) content that is outside the mainstream. (Joe Kessler, CEO and President Noise)

It is all about the people in the end – not the channel

What it all comes down to in the end, are the people in front of and behind the screens. On the one hand, consumers’ behavior changes because they have now got all options at their fingertips – digitally and in real life – whenever, whereever. On the other hand, it is the right digital leadership and talent that can transform business, using technology and data in a customer-centric and creative way. If you would like to know more about this event, future events or how to digitally transform your business, please do get in touch.

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