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article imageContent, contentment, change and the crowd: Internet Week's 4 C's Special

By Stephanie Grayson     May 23, 2014 in Internet
New York - Through a week-long series of events, this year's Internet Week New York offered insights on not only the current status of technology trends, but also important clues as to the direction where businesses are headed.
Content, contentment, change, and the crowd: The 4 C's of Internet Week 2014
There were "4 C's" that emerged at Internet Week 2014: Content, contentment, change, and the crowd. These four themes, in different shapes and forms, were common topic threads during not only daytime seminars, keynotes, and classroom sessions offered, but also carried over into the nighttime events as well.
Matylda Czarnecka  Director of Content for Internet Week NY
Matylda Czarnecka, Director of Content for Internet Week NY
If past year's Internet Week buzzwords were perhaps "personalization" and "local" then this year's magic word was "content" without a doubt. Even the sessions that weren't focused on content generation or content marketing per se often mentioned it indirectly or tangentially. According to Richard Blakeley, founder of Webutante Ball, a nighttime event which takes place each year during Internet Week that consistently achieves a good amount of social media buzz across platforms, this year's #IWNY revealed that businesses are "doubling down on digital." Blakeley explained, "This year.... it's a 'matured tech'- it's more embedded and more ingrained than ever across industries." He also conveyed that unlike previous years where brands and companies were closely watching specific social media platforms for consumption, that as long as content engagement is there, that "these's more platform-agnostic....and [as long as the content is received] they don't care as much where you got that content from."
Elizabeth Elfenbein  founder of Happy Fuel
Elizabeth Elfenbein, founder of Happy Fuel
Happy Fuel, used with photo permission
Another topic common across several Internet Week events was wellness/happiness.
Several daytime panels and sessions made mention of work-life balance, and one particular well-attended event, put on by Happy Fuel, featured a happiness theme which included live music, on-site massages, and refreshments, along with almost a ceiling-full of happy-face emoticon balloons. According to Elizabeth Elfenbein, founder of Happy Fuel, a 'happiness app' that, as she puts it, "helps you live in the happy," in today's always-on digital world, happiness makes not only good sense from a health/wellness perspective, but also makes good business sense. Elfenbein says she believes that "...people who are happy [are likely to] perform better at work....[and are often] more productive, pleasant, and become more open-minded, creative, and inspired at the workplace when they are happy." Although the research to support this was not part of the evening's festivities, the smiles on the faces of party attendees, and as evidenced from event pictures across social media channels, were apparent.
Stephen Lugiori of General Electric onstage at Internet Week NY 2014
Stephen Lugiori of General Electric onstage at Internet Week NY 2014
Change and the crowd
While change is always top of mind during any year's Internet Week program, this year what stood out was the intersection and relationship between change and the crowd. During his keynote "Using New and Emerging Technology to Drive Business Innovation" and also during the question and answer period that followed, Stephen Liguori of General Electric noted a shift in business approach away from a close-minded, protective posture to a more open-minded, collaborative approach in which corporations are increasingly inviting 'the crowd' to share their ideas and participate in solving business problems and challenges. Whether you call it crowdsourcing, or to quote a term Liguori used, "Open Innovation" this process requires some growing pains to be sure. Liguori acknowledged that there is a need for both corporations and members of the crowd who wish to participate via this new approach need to get a little "comfortable with being uncomfortable."
Aside from these "four C's"-- content, contentment, change and the crowd-- identified here as having emerged as themes during this year's Internet Week NY 2014, there is perhaps a "fifth C" that is also worth mentioning, which is control. This year's trends seem to suggest that companies on track to innovate and prosper in the future will likely engage in an increasing amount of collaboration between businesses and consumers, and with that opportunity comes a loss of control that may take some getting used to.
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