Redesigning the World with PICNIC

This article is the first installment in ARGNet’s coverage of PICNIC 2010. Over the coming days, Daniël van Gool will provide summaries of the sessions he attended as part of ARGNet’s media partnership with PICNIC.

PICNIC reinvented itself once more this year. The self-proclaimed largest conference on innovation and creativity in Europe, held annually at the end of September in Amsterdam, managed to pull off another rather spectacular festival. Reinvention was a prominent feature of this year’s conference, as seen through it’s theme “Redesigning the World,” focusing on changes that are going on around us on different levels and with different impact.

This is ARGNet’s fifth year in a row covering the conference, and while many aspects have been reinvented, some thing remain constant.  The PICNIC Club, which serves as the central hub of the event, looks amazing. The Club was impressively decorated, brimming with things to do and see and buzzing with people lounging, networking, eating (in actual picnic fashion) and browsing the offerings of several high and low-tech innovators. There was the 3D Lounge, where you can submerge yourself in audio and video using Sony’s new 3D TV system, as well as a setup of Microsoft’s Kinect (which, incidentally, if rumors are to be believed, will not feature the much-hyped Milo & Kate game that Peter Molyneux talked about extensively at last year’s PICNIC).

Over the next few days, I will be reporting on some of the sessions I attended, starting here with David Roman’s thoughts on emerging industries and the emerging markets they will (need to) be catering to, in a presentation titled ‘The Next Generation Enterprise meets the Net Generation Consumer.” Roman is the Chief Marketing Officer at Chinese-based PC manufacturer Lenovo, and has a history working with companies including HP, NVIDIA, and Apple.

Roman’s first slide contained three corporate logo’s: LENOVO, Haier, and CIMC. He then asked the audience how many people had heard of all three companies. Almost no hands were raised. But Roman quickly noted that the three companies are among the fastest growing companies in the world, employing over 30,000 employees each. CICM, for example, went from 60 to 60,000 employees producing containers and other shipping equipment in merely twenty years time.

Given this success, it is not at all strange that there are now books like Doing Business in China For Dummies: China has had an average annual growth of 9.5% per year over the past twenty years. It is remarkable, however, that there are no Chinese brands in the Best Global Brands list. This trend is unlikely to continue, as the current goal of many upcoming Chinese companies is to expand multi-nationally by developing global brands.

According to Roman, in order to survive in next-generation markets, enterprises need to develop new characteristics. Next generation enterprise operate as a network, are highly adaptive (which means they often don’t have a single business model), and have a global mindset from the get-go. Enterprises also need to cater to the fast-growing “net generation,” comprised of 16-35 year olds who grew up with the internet, are defining global consumer culture, and are a growing force in the world economy. Why should corporations target them? It’s where the money is, it’s tomorrow’s workforce.

The “net generation” is also used to being the constant target of marketers.  This generation was the first to grow up in a media-rich world which, for them, has always been subject to a constant barrage corporate messages. They have a passion for creative networking, and are used to having information at their fingertips. They are the “Arbiters of Cool”: the generation of scrutinizers. Under this level of scrutiny, fostering credibility and values is key to success.

Corporations will be forced to adapt to the evolving marketplace or risk losing access to emerging markets. This presents either an opportunity to grow or a challenge to address. If treated as an opportunity to grow, it can provide a chance for companies to succeed in a rapidly changing world and have a more positive impact on the world and the communities in which they operate.

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