What I discovered at TNW: Building a business case for the disabled

I had a fantastic time out at The Next Web conference last week. A cacophony of culture, tech and creativity all under the bright Amsterdam sun.

It’s interesting to see who the major exhibitors are. As always, there are brands not normally associated with tech looking to receive some of the halo effect, whether it’s PwC promoting their cyber proposition through some interesting 'robots' or Nike showing off their 'Marty McFly' self-lacing shoes and announcing their latest running app.

TNW continues to grow under the Financial Times’ ownership and they have found a great venue in NDSM on Amsterdam North Bank.

My big takeaway was that of inclusion. The time and space dedicated to equality was fantastic to see in a sector which has a history of macho culture. From a venue dedicated to female speakers to Purna Virji from Microsoft’s talk about building business cases for tech products for the less able.

She introduced a perspective I'd not thought about before, looking at disability as not only permanent but also temporary and situational. By doing so, the addressable market for your product could increase by up to 2000%. This makes it easier to have meaningful conversations about an underserved group in society who should receive more support than they do.

I believe companies have a responsibility beyond their shareholder base and a commitment to society as a whole. If this is a step that helps them to do this, I wholeheartedly support it.

After meeting many lovely people and having a multitude of fascinating conversations, I'll be going again next year.