One of the great things about getting in on the ground floor of a company and helping it grow into what it is today is the increasing number of milestones I’ve been fortunate enough to experience.
I will always remember the pop of the champagne cork and the “tink” of the plastic glasses as we celebrated the opening of our European offices, our first step towards becoming a global company. There were five of us toasting that day, gathered around that fold-up conference table.
I’m reminded of this moment every time I attend the European version of WBR’s B2B Online Conference. Hosted this year in beautiful downtown Amsterdam – the famed city of canals, culture, and coffee shops – I was able to experience several “we’ve gone global” moments:
> There were too many currencies in my wallet (US Dollars, GB Pounds, Tanzanian Shillings, Euro, and some Cuban pesos).
> I met several global members of my own team in person for the first time. We’d flown in from America, from England, from India.
> Likewise, I got to meet global teams from many of my client organizations. It’s nice that technology has advanced far enough that we don’t need to be in the same room to meet, but in-person meetings always solidify the relationship.
That seemed to be a common theme for many of the show’s attendees. The conference tracks were great, but the opportunity for global teams to interact and learn from each other provided an additional level of value to attendees. And what did we all learn?
> Most companies in B2B are struggling to catch up with the global pace of change. We live in a world where even our business models are being versioned. Is your company prepared to embrace Industry 4.0? Are you able to capitalize on the shifts as the Internet evolves from version 3.0 to version 4.0?
> Amazon.com: threat, opportunity, or both? Amazon’s ability to succeed in B2B was highly doubted by many American B2B companies. This is less true of their European counterparts, many of whom see the opportunities that Amazon can provide, and all of whom acknowledge the need to cope with or counter the Amazon effect.
> Opinions? They’re a thing of the past. Tomorrow’s successful B2B companies are implementing AI and analytics to provide the backbone of information to drive successful decision-making.
For me, one of the best moment of the show happened as we were packing up. We didn’t know what to do with the banners we’d brought to the conference. Our contingencies from the UK and the USA all had multiple stops before we got home, and the costs of mailing the banners was only slightly less than the cost of printing them in the first place.
The solution? Well, the affiliates from our Mumbai office were able to take the banners back home, where they served as the backdrop in a series of “getting to know each other” videos that were later shared with the US office. Sometimes being truly global comes in the shape of watching our logo be carried across countries, across continents, and into the future.
The experience left me, as always, looking forward to the next milestone.