The after party #digiconx

Here they are just a few notes and reflections from the conference Digital 2011 (Glasgow), organised by Interactive Scotland, Amb:IT:ion and SC/ET.

I have lately been to a few conferences, seminars and workshops. But the quality of speakers and the excellent organisation of Digital11 far exceeded my expectations. Superb.

However I feel obligated to mention how challenging it was to find sockets. The SECC (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre) is a great space lacking sockets.

Please, architects of the future:                                                                                                           If [Conference = tweeting] then [(conference > 4h) = please sockets]

Jokes apart, the reasons for holding the conference (as well as for many of us to have a job) are fairly clear, and were recurrent topics throughout the whole conference:

  • Freemium content challenging quality and/or profitability
  • Tangibility losing adepts VS the attractive of instant & mobile access to content
  • Fragmentation of audiences and niche markets
  • The difficulty of building and sustaining high engagement communities
  • Lack of skills to become multi-media and multi-platform
  • Integrating digital thinking into traditional systems

As they are great challenges they also present great opportunities. Scotland (and UK) has a great potential for taking the lead in many aspects. But in my opinion we will need to join efforts if we really want to be competitive.

Back to the conference, I was especially charmed by the first session of seminars and the panel debate, both of them as inspiring as challenging.


Douglas McCabe (Enders Analysis) made a great overview of the situation of the UK’s industry. Apparently the consumption of media content is increasing (but music). What are drastically changing are the consumption patterns.

Regarding music I have to say that Scotland might not be the strongest producer/buyer, but it has an amazing love for (live) music and it is plenty of good creators/listeners (1). (Maybe not everything has to be tangible or digital).

Another interesting fact is that niche markets and mass markets are growing! Apparently the biggest challenge is for those who are “middle ground”.

Both great content and great speaker, Nicholas Lovell (GamesBrief) went directly to our minds and smiles. Three highlights:

  • This is the best time for content creators, internet makes distribution easy: Publishing is (or should) be about content, but till now most of the “value” was added throughout the distribution chain. Summary of creator’s revenue: 10% (in books), 15% (in newspapers) to a 25% (in games).
  • Internet makes distribution easy… but: But all those roles played by the different elements of the chain (such as marketing, distribution or finances), now fall onto the creator who needs to skill up in order to skip intermediaries.
  • Making free content profitable: A good technique might be to get it out there for free to get it known, create a community and identify high payers. Bring people in, so the high payers can show off. Make it easy to get it (free/cheap), but also make it possible to pay much more.

Finally Tim Collins came with a great example under his arm. Pure strategy: How to diversify your business, become multi-media and multi-platform. Very quick overview

  • In order to promote their comics for future generations they started an animation series for TV. So the youngest could recognise them and engage with them. Instead of spend money on advertisement; they are dragging awareness by investing in a different media! Love it.

A very interesting question that came up during the first session was “How do you integrate digital thinking into a traditional thinking company?” Wowhow

What I grabbed from a few talks is that the general mentality has to change from specific product to service as what really matters is the user’s whole experience.

DEBATE, DEBATE, DEBATE… Brilliant panel and better discussion

It was very interesting to see the different approaches they had as they came from very different backgrounds and sectors, and equally stimulating to see how many of the opportunities and challenges are shared. An important part of the discussion focused on the topic: Money. How to make it?

Andrew Chitty said that information (content) wants to be both, free and expensive. The clue is to know what is “meant” to be free and what has enough value to be charged for.

Murray Buchanan defended that giving out some content helps you to distribute. We need to stop thinking of what we can’t charge for and start thinking of what we can charge for. The key is to create great content and try to create a community that can engage with it.

Stephen Whitelaw “corrected” a question by the public saying that what you get in your website is not “traffic”. Those are the customers you need to engage with.


Not everything is perfect. I have to say that I felt some of the speakers were “selling air”. Things that sound great but aren’t quite there yet.

I agree The Guardian website is brilliant. I use it every day. But still it is generating a third of the revenue they get from printed material (2). So not a business model to show as example.

Some other company used their 30 minutes to make a great advertisement. Unfortunately, when the public started asking how did you get there? Well… they weren’t quite there yet. We love learning from failures and challenges, don’t reduce the process to an advert.

Wow if you read till the end… I only can say thank you. I should stop writing… Other things to look at: Distrify, WeDidThis… and check the conference material!

I leave you with a question raised by Stephen Whitelaw:

If you have a digital product, does it worth nothing?


(1) Scottish Enterprise, Mapping the music industry in Scotland, 2003 … bit old… but fair enough

(2) Alan Rusbridger (Editor, The Guradian), BBC Newsnight, 23/02/11 on i-player


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