In addition to celebrating the great work of our clients, Nexus is a chance for us to talk about big ideas and learn from each other. We chose “Run towards the storm” for this year's theme to inspire bold action in the face of challenges and uncertainty. The day was about preparing for what we’re seeing, and sharing strategies for how to get through it. Here are seven key insights from Nexus ‘23.
#1: We all want to act like a startup
The event kicked off with a welcome from Mark Orttung, President, Launch by NTT DATA. Mark spoke about a common issue he sees enterprise companies face: they want to act like startups but can’t. He invited the pragmatic visionaries in the audience to take advantage of the storm we’re facing. Companies like Slack and AirBnB were launched during the last economic downturn, and as we teeter on the edge of another recession, now is the time to run towards the storm.
#2: Don’t treat the incubation zone and the performance zone the same way
In Geoffrey Moore’s keynote, "Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption", he echoed Mark's observations:
“We’re trying to learn a lot from startups, but we’re not startups, and the dynamics are different. It’s important that we capture the spirit and the creativity, but at the end of the day, we have to have a governance model that works with the larger model of a publicly held enterprise.”
Geoff’s zone management framework delineates four zones of management activity. We’ll mention just two of them here: the performance zone and the incubation zone. The performance zone is all about making your quarterly numbers and margins; the incubation zone is a staging area for disruptive innovation.
The key is in not treating these zones the same way—create space for them to live and breathe; ring fence them in terms of KPIs and funding. Then when you gain the velocity you’re after, your new product or revenue stream can graduate into a different zone.
#3: ‘Product hygiene’ is key to success
In “Design to Accelerate: How Modern Orgs Gain Velocity & Clarity through Rapid Design”, our expert panel discussed how design is used to compress timelines, make more effective decisions, and de-risk the product life cycle. While each panelist had a different core industry, was in a different stage of maturity, and facing unique challenges, their real-world examples shared a common thread:
Solid product thinking and strong, core feedback loops guaranteed successful outcomes, allowed for easy adoption, quick wins, and most importantly, a constant barometer on risk and active risk mitigation tactics.
#4: Fast will follow smooth
Nate Spillson's talk, “Get Good at Change,” circled back on the idea that we want to act like startups. Everyone wants to go fast. But instead of fast, we should think of it as smooth. Focus on taking all of the friction out of the process for your product teams. Make building and running products as self-serve and standards based as possible. Leverage automation to replace manual processes. That’s smooth. Once you have smooth, fast will follow.
#5: Getting a platform right is a deeply collaborative effort
In our platform business panel, the standout theme was that getting a platform right is a team sport. The ability to bring a platform solution to a complex business or commercial opportunity requires getting everybody in the room together: customers, operations, technology, commercial, risk, and partners. The time our panelists spent building support, communicating goals, collaborating on roadmaps, and evangelizing the benefits paid off in platform business success.
#6: There’s value in every segment
In Ted Schadler's keynote, “Advantage You: Through the Storm and into Your Platform Age,” Ted walked through plotting your platform business opportunities. He emphasized that there's value in every segment - even if his personal favorite sits in finding new customers, a different client might see the most value opportunity in a co-innovation partnership.
#7: Lead with change management rather than technology
In “The Chasm Revisited—Stories of Product Great Escapes”, our experts shared stories from the field of hyper-growth and what's winning right now. On the disruption side, leading with change management rather than technology was the theme that linked Levi’s, Axon, and HCA’s success stories. When we talk about transformation, it’s really about changing behavior.
Thank you to all of our attendees, speakers, panelists, and award-winners for making Nexus '23 an inspiring event.