By Todd Murphy | May 15th, 2011
Coming off the third year of the Big Omaha Conference, an event that promotes itself as “The Nation’s Most Ambitious Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship”, I can attest that this event is like no other in the World. Yes, there are the high powered speakers who have “made it” with an idea PLUS luck, timing, venture capital and/or bootstrapping. Yes, there are great parties that punctuate each day’s events. Yes, there are even visits from politicians.
What makes Big Omaha different is the atmosphere that is baked into the DNA of the event. It comes from a crazy recipe that is one part the attendees, one part the speakers, and a large part the organizers. What Jeff Slobotski and Dusty Davidson, of Silicon Prairie News, have accomplished with their team is an event that can trigger that spontaneous emotion that inspires people. Like that one concert you attended that almost seemed spiritual, Big Omaha takes a planned and orchestrated event into the ether where only those who have attended can truly appreciate.
From my perspective, I’m looking for inspiration to help fuel the continued growth of our 103 year old company. Yes, I’ve started and sold two other companies. Yes, I’ve purchased three companies and worked through the integration issues related to that strategy. But each week I’m faced with how I can continue to improve the customer experience for our clients and deliver the innovative news monitoring and media analysis services our clients expect.
Truthfully, my path to innovation resembles that of a serial entrepreneur. Each one of our service innovations is like giving birth to a new startup company. Yes, we have the administrative and accounting platforms in place, but from vision through execution the same problems can derail an innovative service at any time. Worse yet, a competitor could beat us to the punch (maybe that’s not the worst thing, but it is possible and not desired).
For me, one of the greatest take-aways came from Gary Vaynerchuk, yes, that wine guy and author of Crush It and The Thank You Economy. Gary reminds us it is “all about the customer experience”. Customer service is like playing defense only. But, providing a great customer experience is where the game is won. Innovation must focus on the customer, it must answer the question of, “But Why?”
If your innovation, startup or new service doesn’t provide an obvious solution to the user, and a great user experience, keep looking. I’ll write more on answering the “But Why” question at a later date, but this is another example of my #samerules #newtools philosophy.
If you made it to BigOmaha 2011, let us know what your top take-away was. If you missed it, well, don’t make that mistake again. Inspiration on innovation is not easy to capture on a calendar.