Tech Open Air Berlin 2017 came and went, and I think I speak for many when I say it left us with mixed feelings. It is indeed the premier techie event in Berlin, and it was rather well organised (albeit the venue far). What did leave me a little bemused was how much of a “hippie hipster paradise” it has become.
Disruption or distraction?
TOA is a tech and business event. So I was bewildered by some of the talks taking place. I am not sure it was the right time and location to discuss how we perceive the modern male, or how we should talk to children about porn, or how to go about micro-dosing (though the last two were both compelling and educating). I also have nothing against meditating (in fact I practice it myself) or against yoga (tried it several times but just can’t get into it).
But what does this have to do with the industry?
Call me old school but TOA Berlin is a tech event where companies are pitching ideas and looking to gain traction. And it is possibly not the best platform for discussing things that verge on the esoteric. This left me slightly confused as to what the actual purpose of the event was. Disruption? Technology? Business? It felt like a little bit too much was planned and expected, and the result was a lack of focus.
On the agenda: feminism and meritocracy
I will say no more about those slightly weird (but eye opening) talks at TOA17. Instead, I want to emphasise how much I was surprised (positively) by the traction feminism gained at the event. It was very refreshing to see everyone finally on the same page here. I truly hope that work/pay parity and meritocracy can be achieved within the tech community in the very near future (based on my very positive impression of a common interest and drive towards this). I am also sincerely proud that we have always supported a meritocratic environment at Caissa.
Blockchain and its endless potential
Talking business, it was very clear that there is a big interest in blockchain as a solution and a cure for many evils of the internet. I am still not sure as to whether or not this is true. Still, I am pretty certain that blockchain is here to stay. In fact, it is already impacting how we do nearly everything online. The potential is endless if we listen to the speakers and the buzz around this technology, but nailing it down right may take some time. It does, however, provide ample opportunity for disruption and human creativity.
Big companies are in the vanguard
Another point that I took home from TOA17 is that the big guys are very much on the digital disruption bandwagon. It used to be that startups were the market disruptors however, this is not so anymore. The corporate wheels may turn slow but there is a lot of potential from these companies. We can already see how big players such as Bayer and Airbus are breaking the status quo of their industries and driving a new wave of well-financed and globally accessible digital innovation.
I have been observing a phenomenon of non-tech corporates showing an increased interest in the digital economy, and I am sure we will see some thrilling innovation coming from this segment with an ever increasing momentum. It is definitely a space worth watching, especially that in the startup world people tend to forget about the traditional industries.
Summarising it all
In summary, TOA17 was a very wide-ranging event. Maybe a little too hip for this type of occasion. Nevertheless, it did teach me a lot and enabled meeting new people in the tech industry from various parts of the world. More importantly, it was an eye into how Berlin does tech and life. It reaffirmed me in the belief that Berlin will breed more great ideas, companies and opportunities. That it will not give up its core of being sexy, artsy and completely comfortable not imitating Silicone Valley in the way other cities try to do (ahem London).