Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Future of Digital – Worshipful Company of Marketors Annual Lecture

There are a number of things to you can do to persuade people to attend your events: two of them are - have a stunning venue and have a world-class speaker who they would never otherwise get to hear. The Worshipful Company of Marketors did both on Friday, December 2nd.

The venue was the magnificent Goldsmiths’ Hall. I have been there several times and anyone can visit their special exhibitions but any excuse to go back – it is a stunning venue.

The speaker was Jeannette Liendo, the Global Director, Corporate Marketing for Microsoft. She is a most impressive individual with a truly global view having lived on several continents and worked in a range of markets. We know that it is free enterprise that will drive the recovery and this is dependent on the vision to innovate. I liked the quote she used from Theodore Levitt, “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” We have a long history of innovative science in the UK – not such a good history of exploiting it commercially to its full potential.

I will share a secret with you: in my days as an analyst during the technology boom of the eighties, the techspeak of the management of companies sometimes outran my knowledge. I would write notes as fast as I could and find the technical information afterwards. Companies would always say that they had leading edge technology – we also said that it was bleeding edge technology – bleeding away the money.

However, back to the lecture: we were shown the future of computing and communication and about two thirds of the way through I was lost – and my writing skills could not keep up. The answer is in the Cloud. If you want to learn more look at Microsoft Innovation.

I did reflect that Bill and Melinda Gates in their charitable work are very similar to the wealthy benefactors of times past who not only gave substantial amounts of money but also had a vision of how that money could transform society. It is beyond giving to charity it is having a vision of how the world could be different, in their case a vision of a world without malaria. I am reminded of Sir Henry Wellcome who left all the shares in his company to found a trust, which today celebrates its 75th anniversary. Similarly the Livery Companies had a huge impact on education in this country with the founding of many schools – and still continue.

Much to think about and congratulations to the Marketors for arranging such a stimulating evening!

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