STORM magazine’s annual significant powwow brought together an eclectic mix of speakers and thinkers at Keep It Going: The Next Big Thing. By Thusitha de Silva
The world is changing so quickly these days that it is good to occasionally pause and ask ourselves where we stand now and where we are headed. Technology is advancing each day, but not everyone has been able to ride on the crest of the wave. So, it makes sense to listen to the views of those who are on that wave. This was what a half-day conference Keep It Going: The Next Big Thing held at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel on October 23 was all about.
Organised by STORM magazine, and supported by principal sponsor OUE, car sponsor Lexus, and partners Azimuth, Integrative Communications Group and Royal Selangor, the conference was made up of two panel discussions and a lunch keynote speech by Roland Ong, founder of IAHGames and the Singaporean who brought World of Warcraft to China. The more than 170 people present at the event included business owners, company CEOs, civil servants and students. The banner headline of the event lent a sharp focus to proceedings and the event didn’t disappoint.
The first set of panellists discussed why technology will continue to disrupt and drag the world into the future. Titled Byte Into It, there was a strong healthcare focus in this segment with two of the panellists from that industry–Ravi Krishnan of Mach 7 Technologies, which develops medical diagnostic data storage systems, and Dr Nadina Jose, founder of the Anidan Group, which seeks to bring medical innovations to patients in the shortest possible time. Both Krishnan and Jose are at the cutting edge of their respective fields, and they were joined on the panel by two others who are also ahead of their time — Melvin Tan of Cyclect Engineering and Sugianto Tandio of Indonesia-based Tirtamarta plastics. Tan took over his family engineering services business and diversified away from its less environmentally-friendly marine and offshore roots to the business of green technology installations. Sugianto researched and brought to market in Indonesia an environmentally friendly plastic bag using tapioca as its main ingredient, which has snared a bulk of the plastic bag market in Indonesia. All the panellists affirmed the big impact that technological advances have on their businesses and their efforts to develop innovative solutions for their customers.
The second panel was about things closer to home, namely our identity. Titled Human e-Motion, it contained a more diverse range of panellists. Ruici Tio from Kroll Security offered interesting insights on human trafficking in Asia and how it is a business issue, while Singapore Idol judge Ken Lim said that he hoped that the next big thing will not be the next new thing. Aldo Lipari, a senior luxury goods executive, talked about the demise of malls in the United States as online shopping relentlessly gains traction, while Mark Greedy of Destination Elite reminded the audience that the old ways that have put Singapore on the map should not be discarded indiscriminately. The last panellist, Rick Koh of Integrative Consulting, introduced the concept of a portfolio career where people will increasingly seek to work a few contract jobs at once to secure a diversified base of revenue streams.
The final part of the event was the keynote address by Roland Ong.
It was worth waiting for as Ong is a rarity among Singaporeans in that he has started a successful business in a highly competitive industry in China. While he regularly speaks to young entrepreneurs about how they can start a business in China, he was in “next big thing” mode for this event.
He reckons that the short attention spans that we see in the world today amid the ubiquity of the social media is a trend that should be tapped. That is, businesses should realise that their customers are evolving into people who have short attention spans. It’s pointless complaining about the superficiality of customers — this superficiality should be embraced instead.
The insights presented in this recap of Keep It Going: The Next Big Thing only scratch the surface of what was said during the event. More detailed articles on the two panel discussions and the keynote address by Roland Ong will be online soon.
Meanwhile, here are some scenes from the event.