Think big!

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

‘Think big’ - not exactly a new saying in the business world. It dates back to David Schwartz’s 1959 self help book, ‘The Magic of Big Thinking’. Schwartz set out to produce a guide to achieving goals by changing habits and thought processes. Expect to sell more, and you will was the attitude to take, he said.

And expecting to do more business meant putting in the work. It meant gathering information on your market and finding out what people wanted.

In 1959 of course there was no internet; the digital world did not exist.  There was a limit to the amount of data even the most dedicated business person could collect.

Fast forward to 2016 and we can collect information in such quantities that we’ve had to put a new label on the data sets that are now so enormous that ‘traditional’ data processing can’t handle  them. We call them ‘Big Data’.

These vast data sets give us the opportunity to spot trends, see patterns emerging and make better informed decisions on strategy.

‘Big Data’ is one of the themes at the Chamber’s forthcoming annual September Technology event. It’s of vital importance, because it touches on so many aspects of the future of business.  What I find interesting though is that in a very real sense it’s still hard wired into the original concept of ‘thinking big’. Get as much information as possible, do the leg work, know all you can - they’re all things that any pre digital pavement pounding salesman would say.

And now we can think bigger than we ever imagined. To turn these thoughts into business means we all have to embrace and use technology at every level of business; from the initial research to the manufacturing process, to the promotion and packaging.

In fact, as I said in this column just about a year ago, technology now is more than the future of business, it is business. We can no longer see it as an ‘add on’ or luxury. Technology is the conduit through which we design, make and deliver the goods and services that fuel the economy.

There are day to day challenges. Broadband speed is a constant problem in many areas for example. But it’s about thinking beyond that. It’s about seizing the opportunity we have to know more about our markets and customers, build dialogues with them, deliver what they want, and then remain in a relationship with them for business development.

Now that all sounds perilously close the pre digital definition of marketing. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that with all the technology at our disposal now we can do what the marketeers of the 1950s always wanted to do - Think Big. Now though we can Think Bigger than they ever imagined!


Click to find out more about our Talking Technology 2016 - Unlocking Digital Growth event in September.

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