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How to navigate the shift to mobile and collborative consumption

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When it comes to digital developments and challenges, there’s been a lot to talk about in the past few weeks.

Within a single week, two of the world’s biggest social networks fell victim to a security breach. While LinkedIn and last.fm had millions oftheir users’ passwords compromised, business owners asked themselves the question: what could this mean for a company? 

Certainly data breaches are continuous wake up calls telling us how unlikely information stored online is to be safe. Social networks themselves, however, are hard to live without in business. Kate Craig-Wood recently explained why the benefits much outweigh the risks – if you use them right – and will be discussing how to use social networks in business in more detail at the Entrepreneurs’ Summit‘s Digital Challenge panel on Wednesday.

Craig-Wood, as an award-winning technology entrepreneur and owner-manager of Memset, knows social media culture like the back of her hand. But it’s not the only thing we have to master. New trends are coming thick and fast. We’re learning how to navigate big data, leaving the online world behind as we’re moving to mobile, and prioritising access over ownership on the path to a shared economy.

Jos White, the second Digital Challenge panelist, has steered three businesses (RBR Networks, Star and MessageLabs) through trends and obstacles and made them market leaders. He knows a thing or two about adapting to what’s new, and has turned his experience as an entrepreneur to good use as a partner at cloud-computing specialised venture capital firm Notion Capital.

Third on stage for the discussion will be Scott Button, founder and group CEO of Unruly Media, the global platform for social video advertising. Since Unruly was launched in 2006, social marketing has exploded in its relevance and reach. Only this month Salesforce bought leading social media marketing platform Buddy Media for $689m, and enterprise social marketing platform Shoutlet raised its third round of funding with $15m. As a high-growth business, can you still afford to focus on advertising that isn’t digital, social and collaborative?

Unlikely. We live in a collaborative world. Startup phenomena such as AirBnB, Zipcar and TaskRabbit have smoothed the path for the shared economy business model. Collaborative consumption, the consumption model based on sharing, swapping, trading or renting access to products is becoming so important that it is overtaking the ownership of products as the bigger priority. Some businesses (and some sectors) find it harder than others to adapt to a concept so wholly different to what we’ve known about consumers’ precedences. Retail is only one sector getting ready to change its thinking about what customers want today and, more importantly, will want tomorrow.

We can’t give you all the answers, but by bringing together Britain’s top entrepreneurs and connecting the country’s network of mid-sized business leaders, we will face the digital challenges and make the path to growth a little bit smoother.

The Digital Challenge is just one session at the 2012 Investec Entrepreneurs’ Summit, supported by the CBI, Land Rover and Spring Law, on June 13 at the London InterContinental, Park Lane. This will be the most high-density gathering of high-growth businesses in the UK this year.

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