Friday | 10. February 2017

BrandCamp ’17 at Macromedia Berlin: Business Leaders from Mercedes, Heimat and Others Discuss Their Perspectives on Radical Change in the Digital Age

Disruptive, innovative, and without compromise: digital change mercilessly forces companies to rethink their business strategies. Is Big Data really the answer to all questions? Or do traditional core competencies and people’s expertise still remain to be the heart of every successful business, even in the digital age? At Macromedia Berlin’s fourth BrandCamp, nine business leaders presented how their companies develop innovation in a digital world. A report by Master student Nora Werbeck.

When it comes to analyzing pending challenges of the media industry, Macromedia Berlin’s annual BrandCamp has established itself as popular platform for discussion. Therefore, the Berlin campus was packed with over 150 media experts, students and teachers when on January 18th, the fourth BrandCamp’s motto was to speak about “Radical Change – Pathways to Future Success”. Initiated by Marketing-expert Professor Dr. Brigitte Kleinselbeck and organized by the two Macromedia Students Daniel Olivares and Tim Stahl, nine business leaders from prestigious corporate companies and Berlin’s hottest start-ups entered this year’s media slam at the BrandCamp ’17. In their eight minute long slam speeches they gave insights into how their companies cope with the increased competition in the digital age by developing a working culture exploiting new digital possibilities.

Leading Experts from Mercedes, Wire & Co. Slamming at Campus Berlin

“All businesses can be disrupted, all businesses need to be agile. It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow”: Jan Pilhar, Executive Director Strategy at Aperto/IBM, set the tone for the evening in his slam lecture. Along with him, Kleinselbeck and her co-hosts Prof. Tanja Schmitt-Fumian, Prof. Thomas Stegmann and Prof. Lars Grau, welcomed Mike Betts (AKQA, Head of Strategic Services), Holger Suffel (Vice President Global Service & Parts Operations at Daimler AG,), Siim Teller (Head of Marketing & Community at Wire), Christopher Böhnke (Business Design Director at Fjord), Joachim Stein (Co-Founder of Pecha Kucha Berlin), Jan Pilhar, (Executive Director Strategy at Aperto /IBM),  Conradin Sonnenberg (Director Creative Strategy at Jovoto), Eero Alto (Head of Business Transformation at Heimat Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Alyosh Agarwal (Professor for Media and Communication Management at Macromedia University Munich). In their presentations, these business pioneers showed that the need for rethinking business is urgent – but what are the key competencies to thrive as a company in the digital era?

Artificial Intelligence vs. human expertise

Technology is reshaping our world faster than we sometimes are able to adapt to it. So what lies ahead? According to Pecha Kucha Berlin Co-Founder Joachim Stein and Macromedia-Professor Alyosh Agarwal, Artificial Intelligence will become a crucial driver of business in the 21st century. “AI is all about Big Data nowadays”, explained Agarwal his perspective. But can data, collected by intelligent machines, be the answer to every business problem?

“Humans are still the most important factor in business”, argued Christopher Böhnke of Fjord/Accenture. “The medium itself has no purpose, it is only technology. The purpose comes from what we do with it!” In the digital era, he sees the risk to fail a business by loosing focus over technological shenanigans. “You are the innovation interface, tech can only be a part of the code”. While technology is crucial to beat competitors in the digital age, innovation can only be as good as the minds that stand behind it, agreed also Daimler-expert Holger Suffel and Conradin Sonnenberg, creative head at Jovoto.

Put the customer’s creativity at the business’ heart

For Mike Betts, head of strategic services at AKQA, the connective aspect of digital technologies is a core element of future business patterns. Air BnB and other innovators understood a new element that bares immense potential for intense disruption of traditional business models. “These companies put the customer’s creativity at the center of their business. That’s ingenious! Solve tomorrow’s problem today” – and you will be a motor of digital disruption according to Betts’ speech that was met with enthusiastic reactions from the audience.

Increased Connectivity – Changed Privacy Conditions?

The rules of our (business) world are currently being rearranged – but does this mean that we also have to rethink our personal rights? Siim Teller, Head of Marketing and Community at communication service company Wire, entered the debate with a passionate plea for privacy concerns in the digital society. Individually figuring out what it means when data is valued as a currency will determine our future – and this is only one factor that will change not only our businesses, but also our private life. How to embrace this change? According to Aperto’s Jan Pilhar, business leaders have to accept change as a constant. “Radical change happens when it is blended into the culture and does not feel radical at all”, was also the evening’s final insight of Eero Alto from Heimat Berlin.

New Perspectives, Insightful Speeches: The Resume of a Successful BrandCamp ‘17

"With this year's radical change concept we reached out well to both, Berlin's digtal scene and our students," initiator Prof. Dr. Brigitte Kleinselbeck commented. "The eight-minute slam presentation format allowed us to bring nine great innovators from great companies on stage who presented not only in very lively way, but also didn't get tired to openly discuss these relevant topics with our students on a par. We're very pleased that the networking also turned into several jobs and internships. This, in fact, is also radical change: cross-aged collaboration and openess at workplace."

Guest speaker Christopher Böhnke stated as well: This evening has shown that digital change profoundly affects companies. Thus, common structures have to be reorganized. But despite from this technological spirit of optimism, we cannot forget the human as best interface for innovation in world of digital API’s. Exciting lectures, interesting insights and new impulses regarding Business Innovation made the BrandCamp ’17 a successful discussion of the challenges in the digital era!”

Studying at Macromedia University Berlin means embracing and leading digital change. Find out more about the study programs here.


Mike Betts from AKQA impressed the guests with his visions for future business innovations

Over 150 business experts, guests and students visited the BrandCamp '17

For the forth time, Professor Dr. Brigitte Kleinselbeck organized the successful event.

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