E-commerce is a topic no one can afford to ignore any longer. Nor would we want to. Quite the opposite: OTTO first opened its doors to Hamburg’s Barcamp back in 2008. More than 400 internet fans took the opportunity to come and meet on OTTO’s premises, do some real-time networking and share online trends. After this overwhelming response to the kick-off event, the Barcamp entered its next round in 2009, this time on the topics of E-Commerce and Mobile Commerce, followed by Fashion in 2010, Social Media in 2011 and digital trends and innovation in 2012. This interaction with ‘digital natives’ has given OTTO valuable inspiration and ideas for its online activities – and quite a few new staff members.
The Barcamp idea fits well with OTTO: It stands for creativity, interaction and dialogue – an alternative to the usual conferences of the ‘old economy’. There are no invitations, no set agenda, no assigned seating. Just an open space for ideas, a grassroots democracy approach, self-organising and without any hierarchic constraints. Everything here revolves around a mix of ‘real’ and digital communication that is both fascinating and astonishing. In the Barcamp, ‘sessions’ participants bring up trade-specific issues for discussion; founders present their digital business ideas and get helpful hints from experienced business people. Discussions of matters pertaining to the digital world are often more sophisticated than in many conventional professional forums. To be part of this, you have to act fast: Year after year, the digital list of participants is fully booked within hours after being posted in the community.