What to look forward to at the LЗЭDS DIGITДL CФИFЗЯЭЙCЗ

Friday’s Leeds Digital Conference should be great. Look out for Dean Vipond, Victoria Betton, Tim Medcalf, Robin Cramp, Simon Zimmerman and lots of other speakers doing amazing work in the city. I predict I will be on a panel about “the future” with Tom Woolley from the National Media Museum and Steve Peel from IBM. In the run-up, the organisers have asked me to answer the questions below:

What’s your job and how many years have you been in Leeds?

I’m Matt Edgar, an independent service design and innovation consultant. I came to Leeds in 1997.

What is it about Leeds that makes it unique from the rest of the country in terms of Digital?

I’ve been puzzling over this a lot lately. There certainly seems to be something in the water, but I think the same could be said of the digital scenes in many other cities around the world. What city wouldn’t be buzzing with all the possibilities now open to us? As a history graduate working with the services of the future, I’m inspired by everything to be found in one of the world’s oldest industrial cities – not just the built environment but the ways of doing things, of getting on with other people and living together at scale. This has to be some kind of competitive advantage for the North.

Why should a potential client pick an agency from Leeds?

They should pick the best agency for the job wherever they may be based, or indeed no agency at all. Some things are better done with the enduring commitment and attention to detail that you get from an in-house team. But one of my current goals is to spend less time on the train to London, so I’m all in favour of new services that help me serve clients at a distance. Alternatively, if you’re a Yorkshire-based service provider in need of some people-centred service design and innovation then I’m right on your doorstep, and if I can’t help I likely know someone who can.

What will you be speaking about at this year’s Leeds Digital Conference?

The past is a platform from which we launch into the future, so I’ll start with a story about one of my heroes of innovation in Leeds. Then I’ll talk about the walkshop I ran as part of last year’s Digital Festival to investigate the present and future potential of all the digital infrastructure that litters our streets.

Predictions for the Digital Industry in 2013? What should be top of the agenda at the conference?

As co-organiser of Service Design Drinks and Thinks in Leeds, I would say this, but I do think it’s time to look beyond purely digital touchpoints to the way digital enhances and enables useful and engaging services for everyone in everyday life. I’m writing this post on the way back from Next Service Design in Berlin, where two big themes were the coming internet of things with all the weirdness that entails; and the lessons that organisations of all sizes can learn from the lean startup movement. Expect to hear (even) more about those in 2013.

(Apparently “for search benefits” it would be “hugely beneficial” if I could work “Leeds Digital Conference” into the title of this post, “whether it’s along the lines of ‘What to look forward to at the Leeds Digital Conference’ etc.”. As you can see I ДM HДPPУ TФ ФЬLIGЗ.)

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