5 years on. The state of digital innovation in Queensland

Tuesday May 29, 2018. Something Digital was launched with our inaugural warmup event on The State of Digital in Brisbane.

At the time, the topic just seemed like a good idea, a fitting way to launch Something Digital. We were determined to bypass bland and jump straight into the big, meaty conversations. We wanted to challenge the status quo and inspire our audience to think differently about digital – not only how it impacted their jobs and organisations but the community as a whole. To think about how the things we are doing and creating today will impact our future and the generations to come.

Fast forward to 2022 and this event has become a solid fixture in our calendar – an important opportunity for Queenslanders to not only reflect on the past 12 months, but also to hypothesise on what lies ahead.

So now, as we approach our fifth State of Digital Innovation in Queensland event, it seems a poignant opportunity to reflect on where we have come from.

2018. Let’s talk about Something Digital.


Our inaugural event saw over 120 people join us for a chat about Something Digital. With no expectation, direction or idea of what to expect, we gave the stage to our original content curation committee (+1) and let the magic happen.

Data certainly dominated the evening. Not only were we just a few days away from GDPR becoming thing (remember the flood of GDPR emails in our inboxes) and there was much discussion around the implications of not having free rein over our data.

Coupled with the drama of GDPR was the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Barely two months old – this was a rude awakening that many of us had not seen coming. The dark side of Facebook was not just annoying remarketing ads … this tool we had all come to rely on had all the ingredients necessary to manipulate an election.

This was a time when the term *misinformation* was only just making its way into every day vernacular.

And whilst it all felt very big, dramatic and bold at the time, it’s hard not to look back and snort a little … pfft … if only GDPR was our biggest challenge today.

2019. Power to the People.


After a data centric event in 2018 … 2019 saw a huge change in the attitude towards digital + tech from businesses and individuals. Businesses began placing emphasis on the human aspect of their business processes.

We saw a pause in some of the hype surrounding tech advancements as people become wary of the consequences that they may have. With years of AI & IOT advancements to come, in 2019 we started seeing the realisation by businesses that the human is a huge part of the process.

There was also much hypothesising that focus would be given in the year ahead to the strengthening of customer-focussed digital strategies and building trust between organisations and their audience.

2020. The Covid Edition.


After beginning the year on fire with hideous bushfires around the country, March brought with it a word that many of us could not fully comprehend … lockdown. Events were cancelled, businesses shuttered and we all went home, living life vicariously through our computer screens.

In March 2020 I wrote a news post that actually included the line “At this stage our plan is to press ahead and make the event more spectacular than ever. If the 6 month diagnosis is correct we should be in the clear by October”. If only we knew.

So while some learned how to make sourdough and others found themselves in back-to-back Zoom meetings, the Something Digital team dug deep and found our inner grit. We spent those lockdown days redesigning the October Festival … finding ways to ensure the show could go on in a hybrid format … despite being faced with a million and one covid restrictions.

As far as the warmup goes, 2020 was not your usual affair, but I feel like we can be forgiven for not doing things quite normally … instead of our warmup event surrounded by over tribe, we ran a special edition of our Riff Sessions – coupled with a day of online activity and a very special closed door event for 20 of our nearest and dearest (remember when we were only allowed to have 20 people at a social gathering).

After months of not seeing anyone, this cheeky after dark affair was something truly special … cementing our belief that the content is only one part of the Something Digital magic … but perhaps even more special is its drive and ability to bring everyone together.

And that was the 2020 state of digital in Brisbane.

2021. Who new supply chain could be so sexy.


As 2021 began, the restrictions eased. Enter the snap lockdowns. Australia and Queensland’s Covid zero strategy meant that on any given day we could wake up to a lockdown.

Fortunately for us, our dodgeball skills were high and we managed to skirt the lockdowns with our Something Digital events. I’m still thankful to this day.

Our 2021 State of Digital Innovation in Brisbane had a heavy focus on dealing with the fallout of covid. The world has changed and with the virus still causing a significant impact on our lives, balance was the order of the day.

How do you balance a hybrid workforce, where some of the team actually prefer to be remote and others don’t? How do we move forward in a world wrought with endless uncertainty? Would Australia’s international borders EVER reopen? And how keep up with the more mundane happenings (like the death of the cookie)? And then we got onto Supply Chain.

Now let me be honest, 3 years ago, if you had mentioned the world’s supply chain to me, I would rolled my eyes and told you that it’s the most boring topic in the world. But with Covid came a brand new appreciation for supply chain. From toilet paper to the latest digital gadgets, none of them can make it home without a secure supply chain… and digital has a massive opportunity to influence that.

Onwards and upwards in 2022.


2022 is a big year for Something Digital. It is the year we turn 5, and we are celebrating big as we expand Something Digital into Something Fest though our collaboration with River City Labs, Proptech BNE. and the Office of The Queensland Chief Entrepreneur.

As we get ready for our fifth State of Digital Innovation in QLD it’s hard to predict where the conversation will go. Covid isn’t gone yet, but it feels like we are finally at a point where we can all start to move forward and build our new reality … the big question is what role will digital play in helping us get there.

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