Digital days in East London

digital london conference

Yesterday, Cait Davies and I trekked over to Excel to attend the free seminar part of the Digital London Summit to see what nuggets of digital inspiration we could take back to Hot Key.

Now, firstly (and as an aside), how big is Excel? Cait and I likened it to a huge airport hanger crossed with a Vegas Hotel. It was VAST. And packed with other (highly secure) conferences. We were tempted to try to sneak into InterSpill 2012 – which was an international conf on the ‘spills’ industry – oil and chemicals apparently (who knew that was a thing?) – but sadly it was policed with lanyard checking staff, so we stuck to Digital.

Digital London was quite tech-focused but there were some fantastic threads of seminars on socialising the workplace, and digital innovation – which is what we focused on. Excitingly, on entering, we were presented with three ‘free’ passes each to various paid-for seminars, which we absolutely made the most of. It’s impossible to sum up an entire day conference in one blog post, but I’ll try to bring up the main themes of the day in a not too baffling way (and, er, maybe grab a snack before you carry on).

Here are some words that were mentioned a lot throughout various presentations:


*social-local-mobile / my new favourite word

In terms of social, obviously EVERYONE is going SOCIAL. And every big organization is struggling with the same things. How do I operate professionally? When is it right to enter the conversation? What should we say? How can we measure the ROI of social media? Do we have the tools?

Neil Morgan at B.T. captured it well when he said they realized about 3 years ago that on social tools you have the ability to turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer, right there in public, mostly by saying “We’re sorry, how can we help?” He also said three important things about social:

1. Enter the social world with a social mindset – you can’t be private in a public world and you have to be okay with that

2. Get your company behind you – it’s very important that everyone understands the difference between a formal press releases and real time messages sent over 140 characters

3. Be Brave. Try different things and learn from them.

Which brings me nicely on to being TRANSPARENT – in a social world, people don’t respond to corporate speak or control. It’s like the notion of FLAWESOME which Sara O’Connor mentioned on here before. You have to be okay with people seeing the good and the bad.

THE CLOUD – it sounds so dystopic doesn’t it? But really it’s not that scary. It’s become the fancy word for internet storage via wi-fi. Basically, the great thing is anything on THE CLOUD is accessible all the time, wherever you are. Store stuff online people! But make sure it’s secure.

BIG DATA – Facebook, Google, Twitter etc – they are DATA companies really. You don’t realise it but they have more information about you and your movements/health preferences than the government.  Ray Wang, from Constellation Research Group, spoke brilliantly about how all these companies are essentially trading off your data. These companies are constantly analysing data based on your internet behaviour and conversations. Imagine a day when you could be refused Health Insurance based on the fact that Facebook knows how many times you got drunk last year. Scary.

However, DATA is great and useful and you should make sure you are analysing it all of the time! Post all your links to, check your blog stats, look at your twitter interactions – and learn from them. And bear in mind, people are more savvy about data sharing than they used to be – the value in the interaction needs to be higher. I.e. if you want people to interact with you, you need to give them a very good reason to do it.

NEW BUSINESS MODELS – again (possibly my favourite speaker of the day) Ray Wang, talked a lot about the new business models in the digital world which are super-relevant for us right now. He made the great point that you need to ‘begin with the end in mind’. What are you trying to achieve? Figure that out first and then work your way back from there. He also made the point that everything is experimental at this stage so you have to build an environment in your company where you can fail fast, iterate and then keep experimenting. It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you pick yourself up quickly and do it differently next time.

Okay, and finally SO-LO-MO – Social, Local, Mobile. Pretty much everyone we saw talked about this, it’s obviously the new buzz word, and it sticks. A prime example of this working is with something like VoucherCloud – serving you location-specific vouchers on your smart phone when you’re out shopping. And don’t think about Mobile as just your phone these days – it’s mobile devices – phones, tablets, kindles, laptops – to be honest anything that can transmit a signal…

PHEW. Are you still with me? Essentially, one major thing Cait and I came away with was a big sigh of relief. We are on the right lines. We said right from day one at Hot Key that we wanted to be open, social and transparent, and ooh, those words all came up! We’re not afraid of doing the wrong thing once in a while online, as long as eventually it helps us to get the right thing. We’re all experimenting here, but we are lucky enough that everyone is already on side – we don’t have a way of doing things before that we have to break down.

We have a long way to go, we know that. But we do have a ‘what we want to be’ goal in mind. And we’re damn well excited about the journey to get there.

Thanks Digital London and all the speakers – it was immense!