When you hear the word ‘digital’ what do you think? For the majority, what we consider digital to now be is a part of our everyday lives; the internet, websites, email and social media.
But, almost a decade ago when the Digital Entrepreneur Awards burst onto the scene in Manchester, many businesses still weren’t taking much notice of the digital world and social media was one of those fandangled things for the kids.
Now, business tech is no longer about spreadsheets and Word documents; it’s about HTML, cloud and always-on tech. Consumer and business technologies have merged, and it’s exciting. The geek is chic.
This year, the Digital Entrepreneur Awards (DEAs) – the UK’s only national awards dedicated to online entrepreneurialism – make this evolution plain to see.
New categories in this year’s presentation, like Web Development Project of the Year, hand praise to those (dare we say it) geeks behind the scenes; the techies who are grabbing coding by the… erm… keyboard! These usually unsung heroes are the ones who keep ecommerce sites working, who build the games we all get addicted to and who are helping our country to grow.
Alex Amsel, founder of Tuna Technologies, who scooped last year’s Gaming Project of the Year award, said: “Digital has a big future and it needs more attention in this country. You can be successful and win awards by doing something interesting and different, and standing out from the crowd.”
So, is it time for businesses that are leagues ahead in the UK’s digital landscape to shout about what they are doing to put Britain on the map alongside California and Tokyo?
Colin Stevens, CEO of Better Bathrooms, certainly thinks so. He said: “Don’t be shy about boasting about your company. Everyone who enters awards has a successful business and all those people should feel proud.
“The digital world is fast paced and challenging, but because of that it is an exciting world. The motto I live by is ‘don’t follow the pack, look past what everyone else is doing’. I’m not afraid to try new ideas or processes. Don’t be afraid to be different, especially in digital.”
Trying new ideas to move into the digital space seems to be a running theme among previous DEA winners.
Ollie Blackmore, CEO of Selesti, last year’s DEA Standout Agency of the Year, said: “We believe that digital is the future; pure and simple. It’s slowly but surely taking over every aspect of our lives, and as such, having some involvement in digital will set you up for success in the future, whether you are a business or an individual. Who’d have thought 20 years ago that cars would have internet access?”
As for the awards themselves, what do they count for other than a shiny trophy on your mantelpiece? Tim Gough of Manchester City Council, last year’s Innovation in the Public Sector victor, said: “We want to make sure that what we are doing in digital is right at the pinnacle of the industry, and is being recognised by someone else. We want to make sure that what we are doing is making a difference in a forward thinking way.”
With more than 80 finalists and several new awards, the 10th DEAs are recognising more talent than ever – and with digital evolving every day, who knows where they’ll be in another decade. The question is, will you be up there on the stage as an evolving pioneer, or be a dinosaur taken out by the whopping digital meteor?
This year’s Digital Entrepreneur Awards are at Manchester’s stunning Palace Hotel on October 9. For more information visit www.digital-entrepreneur.co.uk.