The inaugural one question took place in November 2016, asking ‘How do we successfully marry technology and humanity?’ This blog is the introduction that event producer, Sarah Parsonage, gave for One Edition, Volume One and explains where the concept for One Question originated.
I conceived One Question to challenge industry convention on what makes a brilliant and memorable event. I wanted to create something that wasn’t just about high entry price or eye- watering expensive speakers.
One Question has been designed with ‘keep it simple’ as our guiding mantra; focused on one thing, for one day, in one place. It’s been created to challenge the way we think about our every day, to question the status quo, be inspired to take away what we learn and do something with it in our professional or personal lives. One Question is not a marketing conference, it is an event that spans all industries and all roles to ask the difficult questions, why and how?
A romantic concept, you might think. But really, it’s just about my passion for building something that questions and challenges. Today the very first One Question debates how we successfully marry technology and humanity. This is a subject I am in equal part fascinated and terrified by. The speed at which technology changes is frightening; and the ease that we adapt to it and crave even more digital interaction is bewildering. Yet we wouldn’t change it. The ability to be more efficient and more connected is now essential to our lives – but how do we manage it?
How do we sustain a world in which we can use technology like VR to recreate human experiences, or artificial intelligence to mirror the human mind, yet still retain the emotion and the heart of humanity itself? How do we ensure that industries with hundred-year heritages don’t lose the human touch? That art isn’t only ever experienced through a television set? That personal relationships aren’t replaced with artificial ones?
I am honoured and excited to welcome such an array of smart people to debate a big question on one day, in one place. Rory Sutherland, VP Ogilvy opens the event, arguing that we should bring back ‘Benign Bullshit’ the idea that society actually likes inefficiency. Rory is followed by Michael Harris, author of The End of Absence – a book which explores the last generation that strives to understand life both pre and post the internet. Michael joins the agenda again later in an interview with Sam Baker, founder of The Pool, and former editor of Cosmopolitan, Company and Red magazine.
The day continues with the music perspective from Fred Bolza, Sony Music, the creative perspective from Vikki Chowney of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, the agency perspective from Jo Moore, Lenovo, the healthcare perspective from Dr Junaid Bajwa MSD, the finance perspective from Brian Henderson of PwC and many more, before Giles Duley, a truly outstanding fashion photojournalist-turned-humanitarian, closes the conference showcasing how technology should be used for good.
Maintaining our ‘keep it simple’ approach, there will be very few slides during the day, focusing on the quality of content instead. This is why you have received this beautiful book, the first edition of One Question in print, collating the different perspectives from across the day.
One Question will continue to ask the difficult questions next year hearing more perspectives from different industries, cultures and places and I am so excited that this is just the start. However today wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our partners, whilst that is true of all events, this is especially the case when it is an untested concept. I therefore want to personally thank, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, The Future Laboratory, iProspect, Spredfast, Hitwise, Rewind, gapingvoid, The Drum, The Memo and Pearson College for believing in what I and the One Question team are building.
As I said at the beginning of this piece, experience is at the heart of One Question and that would not have been possible without the number of incredible speakers giving up their time to be a part of today. Thank you to, Rory Sutherland, Michael Harris (especially for flying over from Canada) Giles Duley, Trevor Hardy, Vikki Chowney, Gabbi Cahane, Jeremy Waite, Richard Newton, Matt Rhodes, Jack Swayne, Junaid Bajwa, Nancy Tilbury, Nathan Benaich, Alex Wood, Jamie Lebate, Sarah Shenker, Jaime Pham, Fred Bolza, Sol Rogers, Eitan Jankelwitz, Brian Henderson, Dave Parkinson, Sam Baker, Benjamin Ellis and Jo Moore
I very much look forward to seeing you all at the drinks reception where we recover from what will have been a whirlwind of a day, with an Old Fashioned or Gin and Tonic, (one choice seemed a little unfair) to continue conversations in style.
I for one am very excited to have created One Question and I truly hope you enjoy today as much I have enjoyed producing it.
Our next event will be held on May 17 at the Banking Hall, London, with some exceptional speakers discussing the question ‘Can we really trust technology?’ If you would like to attend the event, you can register for tickets here.