An insightful week at the Digicon Omni 2020

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PHL’s biggest virtual conference tackled the post-digital world

By Adrian Paul B. Conoza, Special Features Writer

The world is now entering a post-digital age wherein digital becomes an inevitable part of our reality. For businesses, this means that digital is now an essential component of core strategies of organizations. The recently-held Digicon Omni 2020, themed “Navigating the Post Digital Age,” was packed with insights and discussions on how organizations as well as individuals can optimize their digital capabilities.

The five-day Digicon Omni, held from Oct. 5 to 9, featured esteemed leaders, founders, creatives, designers, marketers, and developers in the country and overseas who shared their expertise befitting the tracks of the virtual conference. Aside from the speakers at the main stage, there were also in-depth talks under ‘Deep Dives,’ as well as roundtables with speakers on various topics.

Mindsets and Skillsets

Digicon Omni kicked off with a track focused on the mindsets and skillsets necessary for digital transformation as well as for ‘new normal’ scenarios.

Jona Moore, global vice-president for tech at frog, a global design and innovation consultancy firm, shared her firm’s ‘Disruption Playbook’. This was followed up by Supriya Singh and Karen Mak of Loreal discussing “The Future of Beauty in the ‘New Normal’”. James Tan, director of product marketing at Facebook APAC, shared the recently-launched Facebook Discovery Commerce System; while Denis Gorkun, president of PMFTC, Inc., shared how their firm has been pivoting to a ‘smoke-less future’ through its innovations.

Completing the first day was the first keynote speaker, Angela Duckworth, chief executive officer and founder of Character Lab and the author of “GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”. She shared tips on how professionals can make sense and get ahead of their learning curve.

Technology and Humanity

Digicon Omni’s second day tackled striking a balance between advancing technology and valuing human input.

Dave Meeker, global chief innovation officer under the Creative & Experience division of Dentsu Aegis Network, shared a story of his digital life, one that was ever since fueled by a love for technology.

Dean Aragon, chief executive officer of Shell Brands International, shared his thoughts on humanized and data-led creativity; while Mark Miller, head of customer experience at Wunderman Thompson, discussed about CX’s shift on so-called micro-moments and how they could be harnessed for deeper connections.

Digital consumers were the focus of the following presentations, with Akshat Jain, country lead for business growth at Facebook Philippines, sharing insights from Facebook Philippines spanning several topics such as e-commerce; and Atanas Raykow, chief growth officer at Rakuten Viber, talking about consumers’ preparedness for a fast-paced future, citing the emergence of Viber bots addressing people’s concerns.

In time with the ongoing pandemic, David Hunt, chief digital officer and CEO of West at Havast Health & You, discussed the current impact of millennial health care professionals on the world.

The keynote talk was delivered by Rishad Tobaccowala, senior adviser, Publicis Group, who shared his advice on “Restoring the Soul of Business.”

The Deep Dives largely tackled one of the most prominent technologies today, artificial intelligence. Gian dela Rama, founder and CEO of Aiah, discussed how business processes can be automated through AI; while Carlo Almendral, managing director of ZeroSix, discussed the technology’s ‘dark sides.’

Platforms and Processes

The third day brought together startup founders and innovative companies behind outstanding platforms as they shared their approach to growth, leadership, customer acquisition, and operations.

In his keynote, Eric Ries, author of The Lean StartUp, shared insights and advice on how businesses should approach their plans and strategies.

Samuele Saini, head of sales-apps and e-commerce at Google, highlighted emerging e-commerce trends spotted by the most recent findings of Google Trends. Neil Trinidad, CMO for Philippines at Lazada, presented how the e-commerce platform has been elevated beyond online shopping into what he calls ‘shoppertainment’. Hugh Fletcher, head of thought leadership EMEA at Wunderman Thompson, shared timely data and insights on commerce that was accelerated by the pandemic.

Furthermore, Karl Mak, co-founder of Hepmil Media, took a look into “The New Kings and Queens of Social,” super-apps like Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok that have changed users’ lives and generated different types of creators. Ronald Robins, founder and CEO of Mineski Global, discussed the booming and expanding eSports ecosystem, especially as it gets more brands involved.

Pierre Robinet, managing director for Southeast Asia at Ogilvy Consulting, shared how companies can explore and find their pathway towards transformation.

The roundtables, meanwhile, had leaders from Klook, Angkas, Philstar Media Group, and Talino Venture Labs share their pivot stories.

Design and Culture

Designing better solutions and delightful experiences was the focus of the fourth day.

Jacob Wright, head of strategy at BBH Asia Pacific, talked about aesthetic strategy that can drive purchases. Sea Yen Ong, regional head of sales for Southeast Asia at Spotify, shared fascinating insights on current listening trends gathered by the streaming platform.

Maria Garrido, global chief insights officer of Havas Group and senior vice-president for brand marketing of Vivendi, presented about how content and culture correlate, and how brands can make sense of this. Andres Ortola, country general manager at Microsoft, took delegates inside the family’s culture transformation into characterized by growth and innovation.

Anna Driz, head of advertising sales at WeTV iflix, talked about the evolution of over-the-top media, as mobile and digital have become more instilled among Filipino consumers.

For his keynote, John Maeda, chief experience officer at Publicis Sapient, talked about making life count by making the most out of its four quarters.

Aside from the discussions, Roland Ros, founder of Kumu, gave a livestreaming masterclass, while Denise Haak, chief experience officer at Quiddity, conducted an inclusive design workshop.

Another highlight of the fourth day was the roundtable on the new breed of influencers during the pandemic, with content creators Jim Guzman, Erwan Heusaff, Carlo Ople, Wil Dasovich, Inka Magnaye, and Jako de Leon in the panel.

Vision and Change

The final day of Digicon Omni 2020 brought visionaries and changemakers who have transformed and are seeking to transform the way we live and run our businesses.

Blums Pineda, partner at Prophet, shared his thoughts about the ‘mindset and muscle’ needed in disruption. In a fireside chat, Stephen Li, CEO APAC at Omnicom Media Group, talked about the future of media and the emergence of a new media landscape.

Pei Ling Ho of Unskippable Labs and Google talked about the ‘halo-halo effect’ in content creation, which arises from the signals sent by online audiences. Tay Guan Hin, chief creative officer of BBDO Singapore, taught about making creative vertical brand experiences through vertical visual content; while Stephen Ku, CEO of Eventscape, talked about the future of brand activations.

A notable talk from the Deep Dives was about technology’s place in mental health and wellness, with Cat Trivino of MindNation, Rudi Ramin of InfinitCare, and Roy Dahildahil of Mental Health PH in the panel.

Completing the webinar on a very good note, Seth Godin, founder of Squidoo and Yoyodyne, talked about figuring out innovative strategies and gave timely advice in marketing out of real-life anecdotes.

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