Biggest virtual convention gathers industry players to share pivot stories

DigiCon OMNI continues to be the place to be virtually for thousands of digital practitioners connecting with global thought leaders and industry experts to keep the creative momentum in these extraordinary times. Now on its fifth day, The Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) succeeded in delivering a breakthrough event conducted purely digitally this year.

With one more day left before DigiCon closes today, October 9, the sessions keep exciting attendees with mind-blowing insights and newfound values inspired by real-life pivot stories as told by entrepreneurs and innovation leaders themselves.     

The keynote address of Eric Ries, author of “The Lean Startup” opened Day 3 on October 7 dedicated to “Platforms and Processes” as the day’s theme. “Pivot is a change in strategy without changing the vision,” Ries explained at the start of his talk aimed to offer entrepreneurs a different perspective of designing success through the lean startup approach.

“I’m a big failure, and if you follow me, you can be a big failure, too,” he enthused and that was enough to keep the audience intrigued. He said that allowing yourself to fail is an important differentiator. “It’s hard to predict in advance. You need to experiment constantly.” He pointed out that mistakes allow a startup to see what works and what doesn’t work until it’s time to focus on what yields the best results. “Idea to validation to new ideas,” as he mentally illustrated how the design process should be.     

Ries is the creator of the Lean Startup methodology, which has become a global movement in business, practiced by individuals and companies around the world. This discipline employs a scientific approach of getting desired outcomes faster by growing the business with maximum acceleration.

“The plan is not the problem but the error (in executing the plan). The plan is an experiment and sometimes, we just need to go with our leap-of-faith assumptions.” He further validates it with a minimum viable product (MVP) that helps build, measure and learn from something that potential customers can already touch and feel. “We try to create something new and we don’t know if it’s going to work yet,” he said. As an afterthought, the message is clear on how startups can benefit from this perspective and discipline: When it’s time to launch, many unnecessary steps and uncertainties have already been eliminated.

Since learning how to adapt to what we now call the “new strange,” real-life pivot stories and strategies have become like a company mission for major industry players.  In another enlightening roundtable conversation aptly themed “Pivot Stories,” this year’s DigiCon highlighted industries hardest hit by the pandemic like travel, transportation, and the media to tell their own stories of pivoting their products and offerings to stay relevant.

“We started adjusting by understanding what Filipino travelers truly want and what will engage them. We hinged on the idea of offering home-based experiences that will still allow them to see the world and excite their curiosity,“ shared Michelle Cruz, Marketing Lead of Klook. “We continue to find ways to best support them during this lockdown with safety as top priority.”   

For an essential business that is not new to shutdowns, motorcycle delivery and transportation services company Angkas has been long prepared for this crisis. “We are prepared for the challenges and the first step for us was to create a mindset of safety and a sense of bayanihan among our stakeholders,” imparted George Royeca, Chief Transport Advocate of Angkas.

“We were honest to our consumers about the business halted by the pandemic. We partnered with our competitors to help serve our customers and did not take commissions from our riders for the next two months (since the lockdown),” he continued. As these times call for extraordinary measureswith industry players taking advantage of any opportunity to reinvent their brand image, Royeca was quick to add, “It’s not a gimmick. These times call for bayanihan like we’re in this together and that spirit needs to continue even after the pandemic. We just do what we can to have a safe and functional way of living.”

For media practitioner Lucien Dy-Tioco, VP for Sales of Philippine Star Media Group,  their pivot started by embarking on multimedia channels as a way of reinventing their offering coming from a print medium. “We started producing TV series, documentaries and teleseryes to prepare us for this digital transformation.”

Tioco said that their print has started picking up again shortly before the pandemic and with it, they had to quickly shift to strengthening their social media strategy. “When distribution was disrupted due to the pandemic, we had to think of a way to deliver the best presentation of the news.” In a matter of six months, Tioco told the audience, their online community has grown with a million of followers. “People have always been receptive to our content especially now when everybody is looking for more information online.”

Digicon OMNI brought on the momentum for Day 4, October 7, an important day for digital practitioners who were introduced to an exciting development in the industry in terms of measuring effectiveness in digital marketing campaigns. In a special IMMAP session, Principal Industry Analyst of Google Philippines Geia Lopez presented where the industry is right now in its efforts of measuring digital success with the topic “Overview of the Digital Measurement Board: Why is it Important?”

“We are creating a single marketing measurement vocabulary to empower the industry to have clear and focused digital conversations,” shared Lopez. “The more fluent we are in our measurement language, the more effective we are in our digital marketing campaigns.”

IMMAP President and Unilever Media Director Dennis Perez said that it has always been a question of what more we can get from our digital campaigns.  “Where are we in moving up the ladder of digital metrics from potential to exponential growth? The business has always been obsessed with measurement and we want to achieve something out of it.”

Albet Buddahim, Founder and CEO of Katapult Media walked the audience through the different stages of digital measurement standard starting with Tactical: that drives business objectives; Strategic: where returns are gauged by connecting data and interactions; Advanced: where customer database and engagement are integrated; and OMNI: where it presents holistic brand and business understanding.

The day concluded with an interactive Keynote Talk featuring John Maeda, Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient. He engaged the audience by sharing his intelligent insights on living each quarter of your life with vigor and enthusiasm in reference to a famous philosophy “Life is lived in four quarters.” To put in context, “0 to 25 years of age is your first quarter, 25 to 50 years old is your second, 50 to 75 is your third, and 75 to 100 is your fourth. Most people don’t make it to the 4th quarter.”

His advice to creatives: “You’re either gaining or wasting your time in each quarter, so I believe in ROI. Think about what you can do for others. Don’t think about yourself, that gets boring.

DigiCon OMNI is brought to us by Eventscape Manila x Echo Channel, Smart, PMFTC, Spotify, Manulife, PayMaya, Facebook, WeTV and iflix, McDonald’s, and Metrobank.

Official event partners are Digimind, CDM, MullenLowe Philippines, OMG Philippines, Kickstart, Sterling Chatbot Tech Philippines Corporation, and FutureProof.

And special thanks to Rappler, CNN Philippines, Manila Bulletin, The Philippine Star, and the Inquirer Group.