© sdecoret

1 February 2021

Why the business events community needs open innovation now

By Matthias Schultze, GCB German Convention Bureau

I was recently asked by a journalist how we, at the GCB German Convention Bureau, generate new ideas. My answer focused on the power of collaboration and cooperation with our network and the necessity of an open mindset. As a team, we strongly believe that innovation can only happen if silos are broken down and anything is up for discussion, both within our organisation and with all our stakeholders. Deeply rooted within the business events community, the last few years have made it very clear to us that we have reached a major turning point. Change is the new normal and to keep up with the speed of change driven by the digital transformation and global events such as the Covid-19 pandemic, our sector needs to up its innovation game. In this context, we believe that only open innovation is the right way forward for our business events community.

Open innovation = connecting what needs to come together

The term "open innovation" was coined more than 15 years ago by Henry Chesbrough, faculty director of the Center for Open Innovation of the Haas School of Business at the University of California. It expresses how companies in the information age have moved from closed and silo-based to open innovation processes which embrace external cooperation and are driven by the increasing complexity of our digital world. We live in times where the relevant know-how that any company or organisation needs is spread across many places, be it other companies, research institutions, customers, employees, suppliers, or data sources.

The same applies to industry sectors such as our business events community. Innovation can only happen when we meaningfully connect all the stakeholders who are carriers of knowledge and information. We need to bring all the different ideas together that exist somewhere out there, in someone's head or within a team, and, moreover, also the spirit and commitment that unites human beings who work within a community. Only then can we continue to develop offers, be they virtual, hybrid or face-to-face, that are 100% built on customer-centricity and with participants' needs at heart.

Platforms as open innovation enablers

It is obvious that open innovation needs a place for collaboration and cooperation to happen, for discussions to be initiated, for projects to be born and for a network of multidisciplinary experts to come together and grow. Platforms have proven to be a central tool for collaboration and co-creation. Digital platforms can provide a constant hub for exchanging ideas and working on new business models - and platforms do, of course, also manifest themselves (when safe to do so) in a physical way, in the context of face-to-face meetings and events. Platforms can also easily overcome any borders and create global communities, which are needed to address challenges and develop solutions. Ultimately, to create real collaboration and systematic and ongoing communication between stakeholders as the basis for open innovation, platforms are needed for everyone to meet - just like business events are needed as platforms for bringing people together to enable knowledge exchange and foster progress in economy and science.

The "Response Room", which the GCB launched this week jointly with IMEX and the PCMA, is designed to provide such an open innovation platform for the global business events community, or in other words: an ongoing business event all about business events. We believe such an open innovation approach to be the best way of making sure that our industry is fit for the future - and to enable bold transformation, customised solutions and sound business opportunities.

For more information, please visit responseroom.io