Braving a melting pot of millennials

Stars directing their fate

The sprawling Old Truman Brewery in London’s trendy Shoreditch is awash with early arrivals for the upcoming two-day conference.

They don’t get far without being set upon by an enthusiastic young woman directing them to a nearby food truck.

“We’ve got some chia overnight oats with our own special drizzle. Share a picture on Instagram and you qualify for the meal deal.”

No prizes for guessing the conference is Millennial 20/20, an annual business event devoted to the generation of educated, savvy individuals born after 1980. Keen to stay abreast of the latest trends, Insights popped along for the day.

Doing it all differently

Things kick off with a talk entitled ‘Tomorrow’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Innovations changing the cars we drive.’ In fact, it’s a topic we’ve tackled here on Insights. Patrick McGillycuddy, Head of Group Fleet at Volkswagen, reckons vehicle ownership will be very different for millennials, many of whom will never purchase a car outright.

“In metropolitan areas like London, millennials are more likely to use car clubs or ride sharing applications, and this will change the way we interact with automobiles,” says Patrick. “Volkswagen recently invested in Gett, the on-demand taxi application. We also recently announced a partnership with Amazon to put Alexa in cars. It’s a way of developing how we answer our customers’ needs.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t even know you were paying? No queue or cash. You don’t even think about it, making life a lot easier.”


Trust is everything

A talk on marketing to millennials comes next. Neil Witten is CTO and co-founder of StoryStream, a forward-thinking marketing company tackling the challenges millennials present to advertisers.

“We get bombarded by 5000 marketing messages a day, but they often don’t impact millennials,” says Neil. “We find brands are good at pushing out the facts, but to influence millennials you need to bring in connected content, such as reviews, from social channels. This creates trust, which is essential when it comes to influencing such a difficult sector.”

Disruption at every turn 

Neil believes organisations often don’t realise the insights that can be gleaned from customers who engage with them online through reviews or content creation.

He says, “We did a test with Tough Mudder, the obstacle course challenge company. Using AI and deep learning, we discovered there was a high number of people creating content about Tough Mudder who owned dogs. With this information, Tough Mudder now has good reason to target more outdoorsy, dog-loving people.”

Next comes a series of finance-focused discussions exploring how P2P lending, challenger banks (of which, according to one panellist, there are 27 in the UK alone) and cryptocurrencies are disrupting the once staid world of banking. Todd Latham, CMO and Head of Product for digital transfer firm Currencycloud, reveals they are seeing a 30% month-on-month growth in transactions.

“It’s a scary thing for big banks in our space,” says Todd, “they can lose market share very quickly. Just look at what happened with Uber and Spotify.”

It gets even better. Unlike traditional telecommunications services, Cloud Voice operates on a licence-based model, so you pay a fixed monthly fee based on your usage – there are no nasty surprises.

Moving telephony and call handling to a single, hosted, managed network makes it easier to predict budgets. And that’s the kind of freedom that allows you to grow, disrupt, surprise and thrive.

Tim says, “We’re creating cost certainty for businesses on their telecoms spend. Previously an organisation would have to buy a PBX regardless of whether they had 200 employees or 2000. With the scale and agility of a cloud-based PBX, a business only needs to buy as many licences as it has employees. It’s easy to scale up or down, so you can respond quickly to the unexpected.”

The end of the line

In the following talk about how mobiles are increasingly being used as wallets and bank accounts, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships Manager at Wirecard AG, Carina Saxlund, looks forward to the day when the routine of in-store payments is disrupted out of existence.

She says, “Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t even know you were paying? No queue or cash. You don’t even think about it, making life a lot easier.”

During lunch a familiar face appears in the crowd. It’s VOOM entrant and millennial entrepreneur, Mustafa Khanwala, co-founder and CEO of MishiPay. His startup allows shoppers to pay for products without the need to queue at the till. You just scan the item, complete the payment and leave the store. In fact, it’s not far off the world Carina Saxlund was imagining earlier.

Mustafa says, “Having proved the technology, we are now proving the value to the store and customer. The sooner a purchase can be completed after a shopper picks up an item, the better. Every second of delay reduces the likelihood of the purchase being made.”

Potential for huge gains

After a vegan sandwich and a flat white, it’s back for the afternoon session. Graze’s Managing Director of UK Retail, Emma Heal, admits that like all successful companies, Graze is data obsessed and builds shopper profiles to ensure peak customer satisfaction.

And Randel Darby, founder and CEO of the luggage collection and check-in firm AirPortr claims some of the world’s largest airlines wanted to offer passengers just such a service, but weren’t agile enough to do so. “Now AirPortr partners with BA and it’s been phenomenal,” he says.

The overarching message of Millennial 20/20 is a challenging business landscape with the potential for huge gains - so long as you have a good idea. Enterprises have much to learn from the innovative thinking in evidence at every turn.

On the way out there’s a surprisingly large crowd around the food truck, but it’s not a run on the chia overnight oats. The truck’s got a flat tyre. Which just goes to show disruption comes in many forms.

Join our mailing list...

Get Insights & Customer Stories from Virgin Media Business


Accelerate your business growth
with information, advice and more