Digital Leader Summit – A Retrospective

At the beginning of the year, I set out to put an event on for Leaders that would ultimately build a community of leaders. One that could share information, gain knowledge from experts and access free tools designed to help those looking to embark on a business/digital transformation.

Wanting to get cracking on things, the date was set for June and we secured the venue 28th March, which you can imagine did not leave us much time to put on our first ever event like this…

But determined to make this work, we began securing speakers that were happy to participate and be part of this event. So, with a great team effort and drive, we managed to deliver our first Digital Leader Summit on 13th June in London.

My vision for the event was to be different from the many conferences that are sales focused, where people are sold products disguised as ‘valuable insight’.  This wasn’t going to be something where we had exhibitors and sponsors that would bombard delegates, this was very much a non-commercial platform to educate, share and elevate our peers.  I wanted delegates to walk away feeling equipped, inspired and ready to action within their organisation, so this was to be a full day of education and workshops.  We limited the discussion around technology to 1 session and focused everything else around 4 key areas:

  • Strategy
  • Culture
  • Customer
  • Skills

Many asked me why we were doing this on the run-up and during the event. It’s simple, there is a large skills gap in mid-market organisations within the UK for successfully delivering transformation of any kind.  In a world where it is no longer “should we change” but “we must change”, this worries me the most.  Too often I see organisations failing, spending considerable amounts of money and going nowhere with their transformation initiatives.

The event hosted 160 leaders who became the first members to join the Digital Leader community.

Paul Forrest delivers a Strategy focused breakout workshop at the Digital Leader Summit.

We really did pack a lot into the day and the feedback has been very positive.  For me, the best part of the event was the live poll we carried out.  Now the reason for this was that we often hear stats around the “state of the nation” for digital transformation but it doesn’t really paint a true picture and research is limited.  Sure, Blue Chip organisations have a different story around their success in Digital Transformation, but that doesn’t reflect a much larger part of commerce in the UK, a mid-market that also needs to adapt.

The real take away from the event was that everybody (of course) had heard of Digital Transformation but when asked, only 1 person put their hand up that wanted to share they knew what it meant.  So here lies the issue, many organisations have started their “Digital Transformation” but don’t actually know the reason why.  Now take away those that think a new website or launching an app to gain services is “Digital Transformation” when it’s not and that they have already done this so don’t need to do anything else, the biggest thing this highlights is a clear lack of strategy around this topic.

67% of the audience couldn’t even bring a new product out to market easily based on demand and then don’t have a strategy, you have to question what they are actually “Digitally Transforming” in the first place.  Alarmingly, it appears we are “Digitally Transforming” our products and services when we don’t even know if they are fit for purpose in the first place for our customers, so what is the point?

Some of the Delegate survey statistics from the Digital Leader Summit

For me, this is why I am such a firm believer in purpose and strategy.  I set out a vision for the Digital Leader Summit and had a clear purpose, and it worked, sure there are tweaks and changes to be made but guess what, that is based on listening to the audience and adopting what we deliver.

So if you are a Digital Leader, and you are driving change, what’s your purpose and how are you building this into a strategy that you can act against? We would love to hear your thoughts. If you want to join the Digital Leader Network, send a request to us on LinkedIn and join the discussion.

We were thrilled with the outcomes of the Digital Leader Summit, and we’re already excited for our second go in 2020!


EDIT: Due to popular demand, we are offering our network some of the tools that we equipped Summit delegates with on the day of the event. If you would like a copy of our ‘Digital Transformation Blueprint’, fill out the form below and we will email a copy over to you immediately.




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