Something Digital 2020. The wrap report.

If we are truly going to survive in this brave new world – digital is key, collaboration is a must and we’re all going to have to find the courage to be a little bit rebellious.

6 months in the making (well this version at least) and just like that, Something Digital 2020 came and went.

When we first dreamt up the idea of running a hybrid festival in the midst of a pandemic, we we not quite sure if the plan was brave, or crazy. Perhaps it was a little of both … but we can now proudly claim the title of Australis’s first in-person innovation event in the Covid era!

2020 was our third Something Digital festival, and despite the madness in the world around us, it was our biggest undertaking yet.

3 days, 7 venues, 400 attendees, 99 speakers, masterclasses, networking events, side activations and a virtual hub. We had our minds blown, we reconnected with many people we haven’t seen in a very long time … and we embraced hybrid, enjoying both an in-room audience and of course, a whole other group of people tuned in from home.

With a central theme of a BRAVE new world this year’s festival was all about how we can not only survive, but thrive. For in adversity lies opportunity, opportunities to do things that we might have not necessarily done in a ’normal’ world. To take risks. To grow in ways we never thought possible.

Collaboration, rebellion, anti-fragility, humanity, vulnerability, hope, strength, IRL, friends, growth, innovation, geek… and of course digital. All great words that reflect #SD2020. There was so much of everything, yet in taking some time to reflect we have settled on three key take aways …

1. Digital is key.

If there is one thing that the pandemic has given us, it is the undeniable emphasis and importance on the role digital transformation plays in our organisations. In fact, numerous surveys have concluded that COVID-19 accelerated companies’ digital communications strategy by a global average of 6 years.

From a Something Digital perspective, we have held firm that we believe Digital is absolutely and fundamentally key to our economic recovery in the months and years to come.

Which is why this year we ensured there was space and time to dive deep into a broad range of pertinent digital topics. From workforce augmentation to social innovation; digital acceleration to data accessibility; manufacturing to supply chain reinvention – there are solutions, efficiencies and returns for everyone to thrive on.

Yet, time and time again, we are reminded that that whilst digital may be the tool, its success is fundamentally driven and defined by people.

2. Collaboration is a must.

Another big constant at #SD2020 was the importance of collaboration. If we are going to succeed in this BRAVE new world – collaboration is a non-negotiable.

There is no one single person or organisation who is going to “win the pandemic” … the only way to conquer the path ahead will be to connect, collaborate and do it together.

And whilst we have maintained a degree of connection on Zoom and Slack (and WhatsApp and Teams and Messenger etc etc etc) there is very little that can replace genuine face to face contact.

At Something Digital we once agin witnessed the spark of those serendipitous connections which happen when you bring an ecosystem together. The connection made whilst waiting in line for coffee, the introductions at drinks or the conversation that arises as two people after listening to a session … these are so often the beginnings of magical collaborations.

3. We all need to find the courage to be a little bit rebellious.

This third point is perhaps my personal biggest take away from the festival. We have now past the 6 month mark of this pandemic and we can see that changes to our businesses, lives and society as a whole are no longer temporary.

Even if we do find a cure or a vaccine for COVID-19, it is hard to imagine that life will simply return to the way it was. Behaviours and beliefs have changed … and whilst some of us have embraced getting back out into the world … for others this is still an exceptionally daunting prospect .

So it is up to us, each and every one of us, to muster the courage and help forge our way in this new normal.

At times that will involve bending the rules or swimming against the tide … but by letting our inner rebel dominate (even just a little) we will be able to forge our way forward, to ensure that we not only survive, but thrive, in this BRAVE new world.

And finally … thank you for making it possible.

A festival like Something Digital does not come to life without alot of support. A massive shout out needs to go to the immense tribe who have made Something Digital possible.

Firstly – our partners.

  • CSIRO – you bought us some of the juiciest sessions with the deep geek stream and I love the gift of depth that it has bought to Something digital.
  • Liquid interactive – You are collaboration ninja’s and from day 1 that is exactly what this partnership has been. You have embraced all that something digital is and the title of digital rockstars really does suit you.
  • Vmation – You gave us 3 days of flawless live streaming. Enough said.
  • Procensol, Telstra Purple, HopgoodGanim, VMLY&R and Queensland Government – Thank you for sharing your wisdom with our audience as 5 very epic thought leaders.
  • The Content Division, REIQ and Brisbane EDA – you gave us drinks, innovation and a place to call home for the last 3 days.
  • And of course auDA, Data#3, Facta, MTA Queensland, Spout Logic and Truis – thank you for throwing your weight behind Something Digital.

Next we have the content curation committee – Cat, Marek, Leanne, Justine, Llew and Davey – you’ve supported us and guided us through this mad year, and it is a privilege to have you on speed dial.

To the speakers. All 99 of you. We asked you to ditch the active wear and come grace our stages in real life. The content and wisdom you bought with you has been next level.

To Abby and the army of volunteers … you have been little blue ninjas in the background and your help has been invaluable.

Our interns … Jak and Brie. the fact that you have been off on your own for the last 3 days running the masterclasses – speaks volumes to your capability.

Celene, Helen and Kiara … I couldn’t think of a better team to try and pull off this madness with. It’s been an insane ride, just a little stressful at times, but you have been cool calm and collected throughout … constantly coming up with solutions to problems we didn’t even know existed.

And Nad – 50% of the madness who thought a 3 day festival in a pandemic was a good idea. There is no doubt that so much of what we do is a team effort .. but seriously … 3 days, and 99 speakers. That was all you and I’m still in awe.

Finally thank you to all of you! Those of you who have joined us in real life and those of you who have played along online at home. I don’t think I realised how much we’ve missed you all and whilst I know it’s been strange at time, thank you for embracing new normal.

And with that, we officially wrap up Something Digital 2020.

See you next year!

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