Digital 2013 – Designing a Digital Presence

On Thursday the 25th of April, Interactive Scotland hosted their annual digital conference in the Loch Suite of the SECC, Glasgow. This year’s topic was ‘Creating and Measuring Value from Digital’. Due to the growth and integration of digital service, more companies are spending time researching how to make the most of their digital presence, and this day saw six keynote speakers give presentations on the various aspects of the effectiveness of ‘going digital’.

The day began with a generous breakfast of tea and bacon rolls (although for some early birds it began with pastries on the 7.57am train…) before Interactive Scotland’s Alisdair Gunn’s introductory welcome. First up to speak was Chris Thomson, Enterprise Director of comScore, who talked about the changing ways in which we interact with digital information. Chris stated that understanding your audience and how they use their devices (be it mobile, computer, tablet) is crucial for how your company hooks its campaign.

Following Chris was Mark Treacy, International Director from LinkedIn. Mark discussed the importance of understanding your customer’s ‘digital identity’ and user demographics. He demonstrated this (causing a few laughs from the crowd) by comparing LinkedIn (whose most-searched user is Richard Branson) to Facebook (Rihanna) and Twitter (Justin Bieber).

Next was Matt McAlister, Director of Digital Strategy from the Guardian Media Group, to discuss the process of ‘Open Thinking, Open Design, Open Digital’. Matt recounted the challenges faced when transforming from a hack day brainstorm into a real product.

Edward Rumley, COO of Chillingo Electronic Arts, followed, discussing publishing indie mobile games in today’s competitive market; a harsh one in which 70% of mobile games apps fail.

Our penultimate speaker was John Oswald from Fjord, talking about service innovation. He opened by asking “what is digital?” – a simple enough question, but one which nobody in the room could answer. The focus, John said, should be on thinking of digital as a mind-set, which changes the way everyone now perceives the services companies offer them.

Last but not least was Tom Hall, Pearson‘s VP of Education Technology, who discussed rethinking the role of technology regarding the education of future generations – 65% of whom will one day end up with jobs which haven’t been invented yet!

A Q&A panel gave the audience (and those viewing the webcast) a chance to put their questions to the digital experts, before a well-deserved break for lunch. The afternoon consisted of a series of digital workshops; such as ‘Building an Effective Brand’, delivered by Jim Wolff of the Leith Agency. As one would expect from the work the Leith Agency produces, the workshop was fun, funny and smart. Adopting a cooking metaphor, Jim introduced us to the ‘digital brand cookbook’; six steps to baking a compelling brand. Knowledge of your own company and your market is crucial, along with your company’s values and what it stands for. Jim kept the tone light and easy with his choice of brand examples (Dollar Shave Club and MailChimp) – exemplifying step number four of the recipe; #have an engaging personality.

There was barely time for one last cup of tea (and a piece of hyped-up caramel shortcake everyone had been tweeting about) before the conference was over for another year.

by Hannah Glen