Summary B2B Media Summit 2018

"Passion for B2B - Always one step ahead"

Passion, courage and an open mind: without them it is impossible to consciously search for something new. No matter where. This was demonstrated under the motto "Passion for B2B - Always one step ahead" by the B2B Media Summit by Deutsche Fachpresse 2018.

The venue for the two-day congress, which is one of the largest B2B media events in Europe, was once again the traditional Ellington Hotel Berlin. More than 500 publishers and leading employees from specialist media houses came together there in May to inform themselves about current topics and, above all, to be inspired.

Not only from German, but also from international speakers from business, science and the specialist media industry such as Natasha Christie Miller, Chief Executive Ascential Intelligence, and Jan Reichelt, Co-Founder Mendeley.

Jan Reichelt. Foto: M. Wüstenhagen

Jan ReicheltCo-Founder Mendeley, was one of the speakers of the session "Digital Transformation" on the second day of the summit, which was held in English and further broadened the international perspective of the B2B media highlight.

While Reichelt dealt with knowledge management, Victoria Mellor, CEO and Co-Founder Novatum Group, talked about how to build long-term customer relationships with the "membership" model. "Establish an unassailable relationship with your customers," she advised her audience. This business model is more than just adding a membership to a current portfolio or to existing products. Rather it is a matter of following a connected customer strategy, as she calls it: “I think the critical part of thinking about a membership is to follow what I call a connected-customer strategy. And that’s just creating a virtuous cycle of understanding their needs and delivering all those needs, and the more you do that and the better you do that the deeper the relationship.”

Dr. Carsten Linz

Innovation for the future

Business model transformations are also the passion of Dr. Carsten Linz, Head of SAP Center for Digital Leadership and one of the keynote speakers on the first day of the summit. For him, the transformation of the trade media industry is an ongoing process, which is not continuous, but sometimes erratic, exponential. "We will never be finished with the transformation," Linz is convinced. At the same time, this means that leaning back comfortably, because a number of things have already been tackled, is not target-oriented. What is needed are new approaches, a fundamental intellectual openness. "When was the last time you did something for the first time," he asked the audience. Answers have not been handed down, but the thrust is clear. It's about acting, not reacting. In Linz's words: "We innovate for the future instead of digitizing the past."

Stefan Rühling. Foto: M. Wüstenhagen

The speaker of the Deutsche Fachpresse (German Association of Business Media), Stefan Rühling, also stressed that acting means much more than simply embracing change, praising technical developments and reorganising companies. "The passion for our topics, our industries and our customers gives us the energy, the courage and the tailwind to drive change forward. Without question, "intellectual straightjackets," as management consultant Anja Förster calls them, are an obstacle. "Question your convictions," she asked the summit participants. "The more you hold on to dogmas, the more you open up the field to disruptors." Because they are not convinced that it is "like that" or "not like that". 

Anja Förster. Foto: M. Wüstenhagen

Does your corporate goal contain a truly transformative element?

In addition to an open mind, it takes courage to try out new things, stamina and passion, says Anja Förster, management consultant. In her eyes, risk aversion in companies is one of the biggest problems. To change this is a task for managers, who anyway have a leading role in transformation processes. The first thing they have to do is open up to new approaches and cultivate this attitude. New leadership qualities are only an essential factor if one wants to take the lead in a disruptive world. At the same time, the company must set the right strategic focus and have a transformation goal. "Check whether your corporate goal contains a transformative element," advised Linz. 

Natasha Christie-Miller. Foto: M. Wüstenhagen

It can certainly be found in the corporate objective of the British specialist global information company Ascential Intelligence, founded in 1887. Triggered by the digitalization, we thought for six months in 2011 about "how we imagine our company", Natasha Christie-Miller, Chief Executive at Ascential Intelligence, explained her transformation strategy. Three things were clear afterwards: they wanted to become truly international, they wanted to have a clearer focus and focus on digital and events. To achieve this, "hard decisions" had to be made. Almost all titles were sold, the portfolio reduced from 500 Businesses to 12, the exhibition area is currently being sold. Activities and offers such as e-commerce data insights have also been added. So Ascential Intelligence went from broad to niche, the decision was obviously the right one. "We are growing faster than our competitors," said Christie-Miller.

Rudolf Thiemann. Foto: M. Wüstenhagen

Freedom of the press is everyone's business

European media policy has a permanent place at the B2B Media Summit, which in addition to lectures also includes workshops, sessions, start-up slots and a Tech Outlook. VDZ President Dr. Rudolf Thiemann, who has been in office since November 2017, addressed the specialist publishers on the threats posed by media policy in Brussels. In view of the EU Commission's initiative to evaluate legal information, he called on the audience to oppose this. It is important to pull together. After all, freedom of the press is everyone's business, especially as there is a close connection between freedom of the press and economic freedom.

Christian Mihr. Foto: M. Wüstenhagen

 "Freedom of the press is not a question of morality, but a question of law and the enforcement of the rule of law," emphasised Christian Mihr, Managing Director of Reporter ohne Grenzen (Reporters Without Borders), Germany, in his evening interjection at the B2B Media Night, during which the industry awards "B2B Medium of the Year" and "B2B Journalist of the Year" were presented. In our globalized world, Mihr pleaded for practical solidarity with those whose freedom of speech is curtailed. A final appeal full of passion at this year's B2B Media Summit.