Why this Digital Leaders Week I shall be staying home.

Written by robin Knowles, CEO, Digital Leaders

This year will be the 7th time that DLWeek 14-18 October, our shared knowledge and learning Week takes place. As we say in the blurb, “those like you, with the answers or experience to drive forward the digital transformation of the UK are taking part, sharing the very best practice and offering solutions that are practical”

But, what does that mean in reality?

The week does include in-person conferences and awards and meet-ups, but the vast majority of the week’s content remains online and I believe this remains its secret sauce. 

Why do I believe that an online programme is better than an in-person event? Well I don’t always, but whilst a few days in London or Lisbon is a great experience and for those needing to build relationships and networks with new customers is vital, for the vast majority of us this remains an impracticality. 

Also, these big “national” and “international” in the room events are usually about big tech and those with the biggest budgets fund them and drive the agenda. “No budget, no play” as they say. It can be a format that reinforces the status quo and excludes many for whom hotels and travel is either not a practical option or not allowed by their employer. 

DLWeek is nationwide and all about those who know, sharing with those who need to find out, irrespective of where the speaker is based or the audience live. 

By making the vast majority of Digital Leaders Week online and virtual we maximise that opportunity and let our audience participate from their home desk. 

However, the challenge is to organise it well and after six attempts we now feel we have got it down to a fine art. It’s about great user experience for the speaker and for the delegate alike.

Offering to give a talk is a matter of a few clicks. Our editorial team test talks for quality before loading it up and choosing a time during the week that works for the speaker. With so many talks happening in a five day period, we try hard to make sure talks on the same topics do not coincide, but with over 250 speakers that’s not easy.

What is so great is the variety. With no barrier of cost to give a talk for speakers from government, charities and academics (we do often charge a small fee to the private sector) we get extraordinary speakers offering up real knowledge, best practice and new ideas. Many do it exactly because there is no barrier for the audience to participate and they like the inclusion.

This also means that, free of the “tyranny of geography”, speakers from the North of Scotland or valleys of Wales, or experts in the more obscure areas of digital transformation expertise can find a platform and national audience that needs their know-how.

However, making all 200 plus talks easy to find, book into and experience from your home desk, is about great UX and here I believe we have it.

The key is to make all talks accessible through a single one time registration. We make the talks that matter to you findable through listing them by time, speaker and topic. You can click on everything you want to take part in and once clicked onto, we add them to your personal calendar.

We also get our partners like DWP Digital to create badges that delegates can earn during the week. Effectively, they do the heavy lifting for them by choosing, in their case, the best ten talks about Data. 

During the Week delegates start their day with an email reminding them what they booked into and we send them extra alerts just before each talk. In the evening each day they get the recordings of everything booked into that day and after the week, the whole programme is available on-demand.

All of that would just be a week of webinars, was it not for the Digital Leaders Community itself. For us and them, DLWeek is a key part of a whole year full of activity and knowledge sharing. Those who speak are seen as adding to the community and participation and feedback for them seen as part of the community’s dna. This community aspect takes it beyond just being individual talks to a collective sense of building the UK’s digital confidence together.

That’s why, for this 12th Digital Leaders Week, I shall be staying home. 

If you would like to give a talk at DLWeek 14-18 October 2024 please submit here 

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