Digital Shoreditch
Guy Nicholson opening Digital Shoreditch

Caplin’s UX team headed to Digital Shoreditch last week to discover what the most innovative and creative businesses in Tech City are doing to keep them ahead in our fast pace industry. The event was held in the Shoreditch Town Hall which was packed with people from designers to programmers, entrepreneurs to angel investors.

Each of the 5 days we attended had a theme: What Tech City?, Tomorrow’s World, Future Brands, Capital & Growth and our favourite, Behavioural Design.

There were hundreds of speakers delivering and holding panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions and keynotes presentations that we can’t cover here. Let’s look at a few of the take away thoughts from some of the sessions.

Richard Nicholls of Future Foundation spoke about Technology Futures. Richard estimated huge increases in mobile ownership, social media use and mobile networking by 2020. This, he claims, will end the period of inefficiency, starting an era where the decisions we make in life will be largely driven by algorithms and ‘Big Data’. According to a survey that Future Foundation did the second most popular advantage to data efficiency was the ability to move money around to get the best interest rates.

Kevin Farrar, IBM, continued this theme of Big Data in his presentation ‘Building a smarter planet’, where he highlighted several inefficiencies in todays world. 25% of lorries driving on UK’s roads are empty and 45% of cars in New York are looking for parking spaces. With today’s technology, these problems are rectifiable, and would see benefits environmentally, economically and socially.

Rory Sutherland of OgilvyChange, a new initiative from Ogilvy to combine behavioural academic research with real world communication, opened the final day. Rory said that it’s “not about being right, it’s about being less wrong”. He advised us to “ask better questions and abandon certainty”. The day included monkeynomics, showing that monkeys can grasp the concepts of money and also don’t react well to inequality as well as some stand out quotes:

“Be aware of your biases” – Paul Craven, GoldmanSachs

“UX is what rules the world of personal electronics” – Christian Kraft, Nokia

“Always start with Why?” – Jeremy Waite, Adobe

“UX is King” – Danielle Newnham, We Make Play

It was encouraging to see the Behavioural Insights Team, a government body, apply behavioural academic research to public policy and services. Their work proves that behavioural economics is becoming an established method of improving products and services across all industries. Backed up by real evidence, these methods such as personally hand writing on the envelope of a tax reminder letter, proved to be incredibly effective.

The conference also gave opportunity for networking. At one of the after parties, I met Guy Nicholson, a Hackney Councillor. We discussed an issue that had been mentioned countless times over the week; a severe lack of talent in TechCity. Futures Report found that 71% of business leaders in Tech City believe that there are not enough well-qualified people with the right skills looking for work. We identified one of the reasons for this as a disconnect between the education system and industry. The technology industry is changing so fast that educational institutions cannot keep up, producing students with irrelevant experience and knowledge.

Caplin have just begun an intern program, taking on students from Kingston, City University and University College London to join our ever growing UX department. This interaction between companies and universities can benefit both sides, training prospective professionals in a real environment, while opening up a new hiring pool without soaring agency fees.

City Unrulyversity
City Unrulyversity

Digital Shoreditch also highlighted several schemes for driven individuals to take matters into their own hands. Unrulyversity, One Day Code School and Code Academy are all examples of ways for the unemployed masses to be able to fill the talent gap in Tech City.

Overall Digital Shoreditch was a great community event, exploring the trends of today, the technology of tomorrow and provided a valuable opportunity to network in this growing part of our economy and country.

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