January 25, 2010

I am spending the next day and a half in Munich before heading up to Davos for the annual WEF annual meeting. There is a great event that happens here every year called DLD (Digital Life Day) put on by Burda Media. You can think of it as a mini TED but with many more Europeans. The content is eclectic but I came away with a couple of interesting insights from today's sessions.

John Nesbitt, author of the iconic Megatrends in the 1980's, is just publishing his new book China's Megatrends . He, along with his wife and venture capitalist Joe Schoendorf, were talking about what is really going on in China. One interesting comment from Nesbitt was "China is a country with no ideology". Given the way China is represented in the western press this comes across as pretty radical but the point he makes is that China today is about the under 25's and they are only interested in creating better lives and not in whether communism or capitalism are the right ways to do it. For those thinking about innovation in China the point is that our assumptions are not necessarily accurate.

In another session on health, moderated by Esther Dyson, we heard how health will be driven by user generated content and consumer applications. Products in the future will be a collection of therapies, monitoring, applications, communities and incentives. In other words they will be experience systems.

Finally, the CEO of Deutsche Post, the world's largest logistics company as well as the German post office, talked about innovation in his industry. One thing that is interesting is that Deutsche Post is quite profitable unlike its counterparts in the US and UK. He was quite critical of the banking industry because he believes that business has to be based on meeting the needs of customers and taking responsibility for employees. He believes that much of the banking world has lost touch with both of these ideas and in many cases no longer serves customers with its activities. I agree with the essential nature of meeting needs but I might expand the idea of taking responsibility beyond employees to include the community in which business is practiced which for the largest companies includes much of the planet.