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The catalyst for transforming our lives – Digital 2013

The catalyst for transforming our lives – Digital 2013

May 3, 2013

Last Thursday saw the heart of Scotland’s digital community congregating at the SECC. With over 600 people across a wide range of business sectors, the atmosphere at this event was fantastic.

Kicking off proceedings, Interactive Scotland’s Alisdair Gunn welcomed everyone to the conference, and introduced the event’s keynote speakers. Alisdair spoke about the rise of digital media in recent years, with user experience, design and technology coming together to the forefront of practically everything.

In one example, he noted the recent award going to Gov.uk for 2013’s Best Design of the Year, which is the first website to ever win this award in its six-year run. Not only is that a significant achievement for the team responsible for designing the site, but it’s a win for its users too – so much more care and consideration is going into usability and cross-platform functionality (Gov.uk is mobile responsive too) and it’s things like this that are making the main difference. As Alisdair said in his welcome speech, “digital is the catalyst for transforming our lives.” It’s down to the innovation, skills and experience of the people behind these digital services that makes things like this possible – and the speakers at Digital 2013 gave a wealth of insight into the way things are going.

Firstly Chris Thomson, Enterprise Director of comScore, spoke about audiences and data, and how the technology behind intelligent web analytics are enabling businesses to get to know their audience more closely. Sounds a bit ‘Big Brother’ at times, but in a competitive market companies have to get smarter, or they will struggle.

Next up, Mark Treacy (International Director at LinkedIn) spoke about the growth of the network from humble beginnings in 2003, and how people can use the platform to engage with their audience, providing valuable content in a purely professional capacity. One particularly interesting statistic he shared on the day is that LinkedIn is predominantly a ‘coffee to couch’ network at present – in that people tend to use LinkedIn most first thing in the morning, and later in the evening , and that those visits are primarily on tablet devices. Clearly mobile is on the rise.

Then Guardian Media Group’s Matt McAllister told us about a fascinating project that arose from a hack day. Called n0tice, this new publishing platform is a fully licensable model that the Guardian are using themselves within Guardian Witness, bringing a new digitally-enabled ‘citizen journalism’ platform to the public, allowing them to share and contribute stories. It’s a really powerful idea that is bound to have a massive impact in the future – with social platforms such as Twitter acting as an instantly-updatable newsfeed, this takes it to the next level on a mainstream media platform.

Edward Rumley’s talk was the curveball of the day, sharing the process behind game development at Chillingo (part of Electronic Arts). He talked over taking a game from an indie developer to a globally published level. There have been some great success stories around indie developers who knock up a game and it becomes a massive hit, but those are few and far between realistically. Publishers in games work in the same way as book publishers, with the staff and financial resources to put a game through a ‘polishing’ process, including design, development, marketing and PR, and then sales and distribution. While apps can always be improved upon (surely you’ve had countless app updates on your smartphone to prove this), he reinforced the importance of the fact that with mobile gaming there is no beta phase – customers expect a perfect product on day one. He also praised the level of developer talent in Scotland, and that 20% of the games Chillingo publish come from within the UK, which is an impressive figure given the international scale they work on.

John Oswald was next up from Fjord, a digital service design consultancy, talking about their digital projects and the concepts behind them. The best takeaway from his talk was when he reinforced that your core focus should always be your customers. “Digital is a complex world with lots of intricacies but ultimately you can’t forget about providing great services, not just great digital services”.

Last, but not least, Tom Hall (Head of Partnerships at Pearson) talked about the digital impact on education across the globe. Technology has without doubt changed not only how children are educated in a classroom, but it is literally shaping future opportunities – 65% of high school students will end up in jobs that haven’t been invented yet – doesn’t that make you feel old!

After the keynote talks the panel then came together to talk about some of the pressing issues in the industry, and some of Scotland’s leading digital companies held a range of workshops to share their knowledge with delegates.

All in all the event was a major success, but perhaps the best thing about it was seeing the digital community come together to share ideas in an open forum. Who knows what next year will hold!

 

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