DES 2016: The first show devoted to digital transformation

DES 2016

DES 2016 is the first edition of this DT event, and it shares a certain parallelism with another event born only a few years ago: Smart City World Expo. This event took place when the trends around Smart Cities become a reality. The event was the response to a quite urgent need: shape the Smart City hype and make the trend useful and real. Now, Smart City World Expo is one of the key events around Smart Cities, and it’s growing year after year at a sustainable pace.

DES 2016 occurs just when the hype about digital transformation is high but the real impact of it is low. DT is a trend without a method, and there is almost nothing so robust or specific that can be taken for granted about DT.

Digital Enterprise Show 2016 has been, probably, the toughest year: turning a hype into reality is not an easy task to accomplish. But DES 2016 has been shaped to accommodate this circumstance. One of the key components of DES 2016 has been the academic one. There is not a single definition for the Digital Transformation movement and the event has been designed to accommodate the educational aspects of DT.  


A thoughtful program  

The contents of this first edition of the show have revolved around a number of verticals related to the business processes: human resources, CIOs’ world and their needs, entrepreneurs or the role of women in the DT processes. 

On the other side, the Masterminds program touched the DT from a general perspective, and with relevant speakers coming from fields as Science, Economy, Security or Technology. 

The exhibition area was the place for the participant companies to show their solutions and products for the digital transformation of businesses. There were other activities, as the Digital Mindset Award ceremony. In parallel, there were a number of side events organized by companies as Fujitsu or Salesforce: Fujitsu World Tour 2016 and Salesforce Essentials, to be more specific. 

As the final ingredient, there was a country partner: Israel. Sweden has been announced as the country partner in DES 2017.


 DES 2016

What does it mean digital transformation? 

This has been one of the topics of a number of sessions.  It’s logical: these are the days when digital transformation is being defined. There isn’t a single truth about DT and it’s a good moment to work on a general definition. So far, we liked two different approaches. The first one came from Brian Solis, analyst, speaker and blogger. His definition was holistic: “the realignment of, or the new investments in technology, business models and processes to obtain value from users and employees and compete efficiently in the ever-changing digital economy.”

Daniel Newman, the author of the book “Building Dragons: Disruption, Culture and Technology” defined digital transformation as “the ability to adapt to the changes of the digital economy”. 

The common element in both definitions is the digital economy. Digital transformation  is the enabler of the digital economy inside business processes and organizations. 

Digital Transformation is the response to the digitalization of economy. Financial transactions are faster, global, without human intervention, and those who are able to adapt to this changes will succeed. 

The digitalization of the economy is quite demanding. Companies and organizations need to adapt to this fastest pace of change to keep being competitive in their markets. Health, infrastructures, retail, manufacturing, media, marketing or, in general any single vertical market we could think of. 

Entrepreneurs need to adapt as well, and the mechanisms to create a business or company.


Data, the currency of the digital economy 

If data is the currency of the digital economy, digital transformation has to be able to handle them in such a way, they can flow at a fast pace and helping organizations to create value from them. A significant amount of the digital transformation processes are designed to handle and process data at a fast pace, in great quantities and from both structured and unstructured sources. 

These three ingredients, in the end, are the ingredients of the big data recipe.  And in DES2016 there was time to elaborate around this subject, and related subjects such as cognitive computing or analytic and discovering tools.

At the same time, HR departments have to “change the chip” and search for talent both inside and outside the company but with different goals. Qualified professionals are needed, but with new abilities that are not even taught at schools or even college. 

HR departments has been challenged by digital transformation. Talent is needed more than ever as the key ingredient of the success recipe for business. And HR professionals have to be able to find talent fast and with a clear sense of urge.  “HR analytics”, for instance, is a new concept, necessary to identify abilities not always defined by education. 

In DES2016 there was a specific program devoted to the HR circumstances.


Marketing as well

Marketing is about to change as well. It has to be agile and has to reach users and clients. Products and services has to be known and ready to sell in a matter of weeks. Social networks, video or content marketing and other strategies are the new marketing tools in the digital economy. 

During the three days of the event, conferences were about the basic concepts at first, and then, specific techniques and procedures, such as Google optimization, SEO, data analytics and so on. Engagement is an essential concept in marketing, and it has to be revisited from the digital transformation perspective.

User experience (UX or CX), IA application to the customer relationship, advanced analytics to “listen” to the social networks and other subjects have been part of the content marketing program in DES 2016. They were exposed from the general concepts to the advanced ones, following the educative strategy of the DES 2016 event.


The CIO digital transformation

If we were to highlight one role inside the organization chart of businesses it should be the CIO one. Chief Information Officers have to report almost to every single C-Level execs in organizations. To the CEO, COO, CFO or even the CMO. CIOs, not only have to be able to “speak” the language  of the Information Technology, but know the businesses processes as well.

Moreover, CIOs need to make a stand inside the digital transformation, or they could end up being irrelevant inside the company.

But, how can a CIO go into the knowledge of the business processes in an organization? The generally adopted answer to this question is through observation and internal dialogue. It’s not a matter of taking a master about it, but learn from experience and be able to offer to each department the solutions they need.

These topics, and a lot more were debated in the CIO Summit program, devoted to these executives seriously affected by the digital transformation inside the companies. IT are being ruled by the same rules of the digital transformation: speed, adaptation and flexibility among others.


Security is challenging

Another key element to understand the digital transformation of businesses is the security. To be more specific, cyber security. Data is moving through the communication networks, stored in servers and captured by sensors or IoT devices. It’s necessary to protect these infrastructures, not only from threats, but from internal failures or maintenance issues. 

Industrial processes, health, bank, infrastructures, and companies in general are adopting methods and processes from the digital world, and it’s necessary to make them resilient, trustworthy and secure to make it possible the universal adoption of the digital transformation. 

Trust, resiliency, privacy and other terms are common in the digital transformation projects, and they were part of the cyber security conferences in DES 2016.


The role of the woman

In a perfect world, this subject shouldn’t be part of an event like DES 2016. But so far, the truth is that in a world like this, women are not equally represented in the IT companies.

The keyword here is “diversity” and this subject was addressed during the program devoted to the women leadership in digital transformation. The goal is to improve the diversity inside organizations, and educate in subjects as the leadership managements or the business culture.

There were other conferences where relevant women talked about digital transformation from their experience as analysts or consultants, about trends, the present and the future of this movement.


The innovation marketplace

The Open Innovation Marketplace was another important parallel activity. This is a pretty common format in the digital economy dynamics, where both entrepreneurs and SMEs have the chance to elaborate about their projects and ideas in front of investors or corporations looking for talent.

B2B processes are fast, but B2C is increasing the pace as well. And it’s becoming quite common to look for this talent outside the company, where there are plenty of fresh and innovative ideas. 

The Open Innovation Marketplace had an Elevator Pitch format, less rigid than average, and with plenty of room for networking and meetings. There were projects about health banking, finances, tourism, food, cities or public sector, transportation, logistics, and so on.


Des Exhibition


The exhibition area

 Events as DES 2016 benefit a lot from the exhibition area. It’s the place where you can get in touch with those solutions and services showcased by enterprises, companies and businesses. Visitors and clients have the opportunity to experience both the products or game-like activities. 

Thus, the exhibition area is a playground and a lab at the same time, and a place for networking. It’s the place to meet other professionals and share experiences and ideas, and even businesses. This first edition, the exhibition area was the place to find companies from verticals such as finance, information technologies, consulting, services and infrastructures, marketing, telecommunication or education.


Digital Mindset Awards

Digital Enterprise Show has its own awards as well. The European Digital Mindset Awards recognized the work of companies and professionals in five categories: best digital transformation enterprise, best journalistic work on digital transformation, best digital campaign, best digital-disruptor startup and best digital leader executive of 2016. 

Federico Flórez, CIO of Ferrovial, was awarded as the best digital leader executive. Meliá Hoteles was the best digital transformation Enterprise, Fernando Almaraz won the journalistic award. Improve Search won the best digital campaign award and Spotcat was the best digital disruptor startup.




See you in 2017 

Next Digital Enterprise Show edition is already scheduled: May 23 to May 25 2017. It will be in Madrid again, at IFEMA. Sweden is the country partner: a good choice taking into account it’s the unofficial European entrepreneurship capital. This way, DES 2017 should be even more aligned with startups than the 2016 edition.

DES is meant to grow at the pace of the digital transformation phenomenon. Companies are facing their transformation processes and Digital Enterprise Show is the perfect scenario to know about the optimal tools and strategies to face them. 

Despite of the doubts about digital transformation, DES is a necessary event. Research studies as the recent one of Mckinsey,  confirm the trend: digital transformation is a fact, not always desired, but necessary. 

Examples as the Kodak rise and fall, show that the lack of adaptation to the new digital rules lead to the bankrupt. These rules are dictated by the digital economy, where companies get their resources from the investors funds. Investors are always looking for new ideas and disruptive businesses capable of attracting the attention of global audiences in months or weeks instead of years. 

Digital transformation touches both SMEs and big companies, forced to accelerate their pace of innovation to preserve their business and markets. Today, a start-up in its garage is capable of challenging an enterprise. 

In the end, digital transformation is a matter of survival. A few years ago, it was almost impossible for a small company to challenge a big one. But today, a start-up can become an unicorn in a few months if it gets the financial support and develops an effective social media strategy to communicate its idea or product, as long as it’s good enough.

Capture talent, keep it and make good use of it  to turn ideas into businesses as fast as possible are quite hard to get abilities and events as Digital Enterprise Show are ineludible opportunities for “digital” professionals to learn them. 

Talking with some of the visitors, the opinions were balancing between the enthusiasm and the “I expected more”. Nest edition has the responsibility of getting better and offering a program as versatile and rich as the one of this edition. 

Speakers are another pillar of the event. In this edition we could hear people as relevant as Albert László Barabási, Sydney Finkelstein, Michael Krigsman or Brian Solís among others.  There were more than 450 speakers and next year DES 2017 has to bring again the best of the best to its scenario. 


From hype to reality

DES 2016 is born as the logical reaction to a global trend / phenomenon as digital transformation.  It happened with the smart city years ago, and make It more difficult for the organization to balance expectations and reality. 

Expectations are quite high when dealing with hypes. And digital transformation is a hype.  Hypes, by definition, are always way beyond reality. This year, visitors were waiting for more. More of everything: more visitors, more companies, more exhibitors… But, on the other side, is good to stress the hype and make it face the reality of a tangible, specific, doable event. A hype is not doable at all. But DES 2016 was, and well done. Next editions will be less hype and more facts, less volatile and more robust and fine-tuned to accommodate the reality of the digital transformation. 

On the other hand, taking into account the digital transformation definitions and their relationship with the digital economy, it should be quite convenient to dedicate part of the event to the digital economy. 

Fintech companies are another trend, and the perfect link between digital transformation and digital economy. It’s not a coincidence that a Fintech had been awarded as the most disruptive startup in DES2016. 

In less than one year DES 2017 will open its doors and today it’s already being planned and scheduled to accommodate the best speakers, companies and parallel events related to the digital transformation. 

By Manu Arenas


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