Unconference: knowledge sharing at its best

27 April 2016
Josie Klafkowska
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As one Cognifider pointed out, it’s hard not to be happy when your favourite bar becomes your office for the day.  This perhaps doesn’t sound too productive but actually things turned out very differently when we hosted our first ever unconference on Monday.  The Mondrian’s fantastic Rumpus Bar was the venue but what transpired was anything but a rumpus.  It was a fabulously inclusive, democratic and collaborative afternoon of knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer learning.  

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Joined by our clients, partners and friends, we took time out from the day-to-day to discuss topics as broad and unsolvable as ‘are websites dying’, to issues much closer to home, ‘what is the true cost of personalisation’ and ‘how can we move from supplier-based relationships to become partners’.

Conversation leaders facilitated different sessions throughout the afternoon in which topics were crowd-sourced, Powerpoint was banned and whiteboards and Post-It notes were the only communication currency, save our voices.

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There aren’t many other rules in an unconference except that Chatham House Rules apply.  So we can’t share the entire afternoon with you but we’d love to share some thought-provoking snippets.

We talked recruitment  

We’re all responsible - directly or indirectly - for the next generation of digital thinkers and innovators.  But is a University education still relevant in a digital world?  Can academia keep up with the pace of business and are graduates properly armed to make the leap from education to industry?  Indeed, are practical qualifications any more relevant than more abstract arts degrees, and which equips a student with some of the softer skills that are really required to succeed and lead?  It would appear that whatever route a graduate has taken, wise companies are still investing in training to help them transition into the commercial world.  Apprenticeships and internships seem to be making a comeback.

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We talked experience  

Can brands really own the experience when intermediaries such as Facebook play such a huge role in the customer journey?  And are we designing experiences the right way round?  While for most, the brand and experience are the starting point, shouldn’t we be understanding consumers lives more fundamentally, then working out how the brand or product fits into their lives, to determine the experience.  What’s your view?

We talked personalisation  

Who is driving personalisation within large organisations and, critically, who owns the data?  While technology can facilitate it, organisations may have to refocus and restructure to make personalisation a reality.  And while current thinking around differentiating via multiple segmentations and personas appears to cripple progress, should we be thinking more about the commonalities of just one segment and starting there.  If that’s the case, are we really talking about personalisation or, more simply, customisation.

We talked partnership, we talked platform and we talked relationships.  We shared trials, tribulations, failure, success and a whole lot more.  And then we toasted time well spent with a glass of champagne - in our favourite bar.

Thank you to all our clients and partners for making it such a wonderful afternoon.  We loved hosting you and we hope that you’ll come back for more next year.

In the meantime, don’t forget to come and see us at Excel for Adobe Summit on the 11th and 12th May.

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