WeWorks Event 2016

David Porter

By David Porter, final year Pearson Business School student

The evening was relatively informal - Pearson sponsored the event and it was organised by our very own Els Howard. Everyone was welcomed with pizza and drinks upon arrival which provided a great opportunity to network. 

The event was held at WeWork's co-working space in Aldgate Tower and welcomed three high-profile speakers discussing innovation: 

Jen Thompson, YouTube Media Sales & Innovation EMEA - @Jen_D_Rockstar

Before too long though, Jen began proceedings with a really interesting insight into the world of Google and some of the innovative initiatives they are currently implementing. She focused her talk around Google’s mission to empower everyone around the world by using technology as a means of improving and enriching livelihoods through access to information.

One of the main challenges to this is building the infrastructure required to give people access to the internet in remote parts of the world. Indeed, two-thirds of the world do not yet have internet access. 

However, Google are helping to solve this problem with 'Project Loon’, which is a highly innovative scheme using balloons floating in the stratosphere as a means of providing people with internet access.

The key message from Jen’s talk was that in order to be truly innovative, we need to first dream big and ask ourselves “what if…”. Only once we have set aside all constraints can we be truly innovative and solve some of the world’s most difficult problems.

Jaideep Prabhu, Cambridge, Judge Business School - @JaideepPrabhu

Professor Jaideep Prabhu delivered his talk next, which began by giving us an insight into ‘Jugaad innovation’, where emerging markets (like India) are adopting a new approach to innovation that is ‘frugal, flexible and inclusive’. Despite having shoestring budgets and limited access to resources, we were provided with a range of examples in different industries where entrepreneurs in emerging markets have generated groundbreaking innovations. One pertinent example was an entrepreneur who has built a clay refrigerator selling for just $30, called MittiCool.

He then went on to explain how Western companies can learn from these principles to create high-quality products with limited resources. Indeed, with increasingly environmentally-aware customers and the pressing need to for sustainable behaviour, it’s unsurprising that companies are increasingly adopting a frugal approach. If this is something that interests you, then Professor Prabhu’s latest book 'Frugal Innovation: How to do better with less’ discusses the topic in detail. 

Jeremy Waite, Salesforce.com - Head of Digital Strategy, EMEA - @JeremyWaite

The final speaker was Jeremy Waite, who took a more conversational approach to his talk. He discussed the incomprehensible speed of technological change and the opportunities that this presents. Indeed, he argued that the famous advice ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ no longer applies in today’s world. Instead, he proposes that it has now become ‘If it ain’t broke, it’s obsolete’.

Emphasising the point further, he went on to mention a couple of stats that really hit home the extent to which the digital world is expanding: 

- 90% of the world’s data didn’t exist 12 months ago
- The digital universe will be 40X bigger by 2020!

In his talk, Jeremy also tackled the topic of ‘disruption’ and his experience working with some of the world’s largest companies, who are all too commonly worried about being ‘Uberised’. Whilst this is a very real concern, Jeremy also offered some hope for traditional businesses, citing a Forrestor report that predicts 2016 will be the year that traditional companies stand up to disruptors. Indeed, he discussed how traditional businesses have several key points of differentiation - market footprint, capital and customer data.

After discussing Uber in more detail and the story behind it’s success (Jeremy’s soon to publish his latest book on the topic, entitled ‘Ubernomics’), Jeremy closed his talk by introducing us to a Jibo. This is the "world’s first social robot for the home”. If you haven't heard of Jibo, then I’d definitely recommend having a look online!

Jibo is particularly interesting as it is essentially a platform that other people/businesses can build on. Using platforms in this way, businesses have the opportunity to revolutionise the way we live our lives. Indeed, he argued against businesses building new platforms in an attempt to innovate, when there are already so many opportunities to build solutions using existing platforms.

I really enjoyed all the talks, they left me feeling extremely inspired! Attending events such as these give you really unique opportunities to connect with people at the cutting edge of business.

Personally, they’ve helped to open my mind to new areas of business and encouraged me to believe that nothing is impossible with the right motivation and approach.

Interested in studying Business from within a FTSE 100 Company? Check out the Pearson Business School section of our website.

In his talk, Jeremy also tackled the topic of ‘disruption’ and his experience working with some of the world’s largest companies, who are all too commonly worried about being ‘Uberised’. Whilst this is a very real concern, Jeremy also offered some hope for traditional businesses, citing a Forrestor report that predicts 2016 will be the year that traditional companies stand up to disruptors. Indeed, he discussed how traditional businesses have several key points of differentiation - market footprint, capital and customer data. 
In his talk, Jeremy also tackled the topic of ‘disruption’ and his experience working with some of the world’s largest companies, who are all too commonly worried about being ‘Uberised’. Whilst this is a very real concern, Jeremy also offered some hope for traditional businesses, citing a Forrestor report that predicts 2016 will be the year that traditional companies stand up to disruptors. Indeed, he discussed how traditional businesses have several key points of differentiation - market footprint, capital and customer data. 
In his talk, Jeremy also tackled the topic of ‘disruption’ and his experience working with some of the world’s largest companies, who are all too commonly worried about being ‘Uberised’. Whilst this is a very real concern, Jeremy also offered some hope for traditional businesses, citing a Forrestor report that predicts 2016 will be the year that traditional companies stand up to disruptors. Indeed, he discussed how traditional businesses have several key points of differentiation - market footprint, capital and customer data.