Something Digital Warmup #1: The 2019 state of digital in Brisbane.

On Thursday May 30th we hosted the 1st Something Digital Festival warmup event for 2019 “The State of Digital in Brisbane” at The Capital. The warmup events serve as an intro for the Brisbane community into all the magic that is Something Digital.

Our panellists for this event included:

  • Cat Matson (Moderator), Brisbane’s Chief Digital Officer + GM Innovation, Brisbane Marketing
  • Marek Kowalkiewicz, Chair in Digital Economy, QUT
  • Llew Jury, Executive Chair & Director, Advancer
  • Melissa Witheriff, Head of Digital Innovation, CUA

With a sell-out crowd eager to hear what our panellists had to say, we wasted no time and launched straight into it!

And not wanting to miss moment of the digital goodness, we took one for the team with some frantic note taking during the session.

Below you will finds some of the juiciest takeaways. You can also jump onto the hashtag #SomethingDigital, or find us under @SD_BNE on Twitter to grab some more meaty insights.

>> At our 2018 State of Digital event, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal had just hit our digital sphere and was one of the main topics we covered. Cat asked the panellists “We’ve been inundated with much bigger scandals, what’s do you think has shifted [in regards to privacy] since that broke?”


We’ve come a long way with data and we’ve come a long way since the Cambridge Analytica Scandal and the election.

For example, Canva recently had 139 million passwords hacked. The way that Canva handled that was by acknowledging that it was hacked on every single touchpoint. They specifically addressed it publicly by saying “We did bad, we stuffed up, please keep using us.”

That data breach has had no ramifications for the company [as of yet]. I think that company’s are being very transparent and honest with their customers … which comes back to the fact that we are ALL humans.


In terms of banking, privacy has always been paramount where institutional trust is concerned. So it’s absolutely critical that our data and privacy [and that of our customer’s] is protected. Right now, people are choosing apps for convenience OVER privacy protection.


Think about this. If you live in a city – or when you visit one – there will be some streets that you decide to be slightly more cautious walking down. And it’s just like that with digital … you don’t know which streets will be like that – but you should assume people will be inherently wicked.

>> What are you seeing in the digital landscape at the moment?

The panellists and Cat all agreed that there is a huge change in the attitude towards digital + tech from businesses and individuals. Businesses are placing emphasis on the human aspect of their business processes. Here’s what they had to say:


There’s been a bit of a pause in some of the hype surrounding tech advancements as people become wary of the effects that they may have. I think we’re entering a period of AI & IOT advancements, and what we’re seeing is the realisation by businesses that the human is a huge part of the process.


We’ve been working with digital businesses on the specific tools they’re developing and how they could potentially help our customers. For us, to be able to compete in the world of disruption with “digitally-only” banks, we need to train our people in order to keep up with the speed of how quickly things are moving.


There’s been a lot of talk about ‘digital detox’. When you become big and SLOW as a company, you need to digitally detox your organisation: you need to explore and re-imagine your processes to get rid of any digital fat you may have.


We’re FINALLY coming back to the PEOPLE … and tech for a reason rather than tech for tech’s sake!!!

The current cohort in our hotdesk system at Fishburners consists of businesses from France, the UK, China (and more) … our own startups in Brisbane are on par with the high calibre of these global startups.

How awesome is that!? In fact, I would argue that we are leading innovation. We are different because we’re a small population, but we’re beginning to find our strengths and becoming OK with being small.

>> What will we see in the next 12 months?

Again, the panellists all agreed on the strengthening of customer-focussed digital strategies and building trust between organisations and their audience. Llew gave an interesting take on the need for more creatives in our digital ecosystem.


At last year’s State of Digital in Brisbane, I said that a Chief Experience Officer would be paramount to all businesses. I’m predicting that the ‘A’ in ‘STEAM’ is going to become huge, not just over the next 12 months but over the next 20 years.

What’s STEAM? It’s the study of “Arts” added to the tradition acronym of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

We’re going to need creative people to code and run the robots. I honestly think my son needs to study psyche at university (when he reaches that stage). Our future with digital requires humans to understand WHY we are doing certain things – hence the psyche component.

>> What’s the one thing you think – if we all did – we would change the entire space for the better (in the context of Brisbane)? 

From a global perspective, we’re a small dot on a map, so unless we get together and work together to make sure that Brisbane stands out – we’re not going to.
We need a kickstart in Brisbane where we all invest in an early staged company. We should really be back innovations and tech platforms that are coming out of bedrooms and garages. We’ve gone one step forward and we’ve gotta go even further. We need more investments to keep innovation in Brisbane.

Digital with a human touch. It means that in the workforce and with the people we have doing the jobs at the moment, how can we enable and empower them to do great work, to enable them to do great stuff? We need to aim for digital, with a human touch.


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Melissa’s closing statement could not have been a more perfect introduction to the Something Digital Festival theme for 2019: Power to the People. Join us on October 24 at Brisbane’s Digital Festival to learn how digital innovation and success starts and ends with a focus on the human experience. Tickets are now on sale.
Ps. We would love to know your thoughts on ANY of the above, simply tweet us @SD_BNE or #SomethingDigital.
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