What struck me was how very alien this coming world is to the average traditional business. And how simultaneously exciting and scary that is.
It wasn’t just the dress code – a shirt with a collar was overdress – or the impenetrable language. It was that ‘conventional’ business practice was being turned on its head.
Conventionally business is based on borders and barriers between people, territories and businesses. It is replete with unwritten but understood structures and hierarchies. In this new world none of this is relevant.
Conventional barriers between people were erased; titles and even surnames are as irrelevant as nationality or language. In this world without barriers businesses rarely even bothered to mention where they were based on the planet.
Conventional barriers between businesses were missing. The language was not of ‘IP protection’, ‘first mover advantage’ or ‘competitive threat’ but of ‘collaboration’, of ‘shared platforms’ and ‘the ecosystem’.
More predictably, I was struck by the breath-taking speed at which these businesses innovated and created product and proposition; launch cycles were in days and weeks not years.
Conventional business urgently needs to understand this new world. To benefit from this profusion of innovation and creativity, large businesses need to learn a new way of thinking about business without borders. For professional practices seeking to provide advice, funding and services in this new world the challenge is the same. Is there an ‘MBA’ for understanding tech start ups?
Yet what finally struck me was how much this world still needs conventional business. It was striking to me how much of the focus was on the product and not on the business. I wondered how these technology-led, idea-centric start-ups would learn to transcend just ‘the product’ and to understand and leverage the full suite of assets that make for a true, scalable and sustainable business.
The real opportunity is to eliminate the borders that still stand between the conventional and the new.