Wired Smarter

By Magdalena Obmalko

Strategic thinking for a world in flux

Wired Smarter is the one-day super conference designed for business executives in retail, security and finance. Exploring the future of business, the event features an editorially-curated programme of compelling speakers, startup showcases and experiences.

Curated by Greg Williams, Editor at Wired, the 2019 programme interrogated the emergence of innovations in AI, blockchain, cryptocurrency and how they are impacting strategy frameworks in the world of business. Having exhibited at the 2018 edition, we returned to Wired Smarter following what seems to be another tumultuous year for geo-politics, the mainstreaming of awareness of the climate emergency, and a palpable change in discourse over the role of technology and its interaction with society and governance. We took insight and inspiration from a collection of perspectives that look to disruption as an opportunity to implement action-driven business strategies that go beyond shareholder interests. We heard from design luminary John Maeda who shared his perspective on the laws of design in today’s digital world, economist Mariana Mazzucato who addressed the government’s potential role in redefining approaches to innovation and beauty entrepreneur Sharmadean Reid, who discussed practical approaches to ensure diversity and inclusivity in business.

As corporate ecosystems continue to be disrupted by the influx of startups offering alternative services or systems, it is critical that businesses and the investor community resist the temptation to react with short-term strategies and take a longer view of the future instead. But towards which direction are customers, businesses and industries moving? What nascent technology and innovations are on the horizon? Who is navigating through the challenges and what can we learn from them? At Faber Futures, when we reflect on the emergence of consumer-driven synthetic biology, finding answers to these kinds of questions is critical for us to leverage its promise to solve some of our biggest problems. At the heart of attempting to build innovative, disruptive and purpose-driven biotechnology start-ups with game-changing products and services for already complex supply chains, is the impetus for new relationships with the consumer based on ethics, sustainability and equity. Making this happen calls for us to go beyond hype and messaging, to actually bake those values in at the micro level and upstream. For that to happen, we need to encourage cognitive diversity, collaborative partnerships and consortia-based impact-driven R&D and investment in this field and beyond. This worked at scale for corporations like Apple, IDEO and even IKEA, so there’s a lot we can learn about what models exist and how to replicate them.

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