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DS15 day two highlights: Visa’s plans for new start-up hub, how M&S tackles the data skills gap and Ogilvy’s approach to LGBT representation

Day two of Digital Shoreditch 2015, dubbed Grow, has seen another wave of engaging talks, panels and workshops in the heart of London’s tech home. For those not able to make it along The Drum has picked out the day’s highlights below.


Visa Europe has opened a new lab named Visa Collab in East London to work with a network of start-ups in the fintech world to help accelerate the company’s innovative product output.

Having rolled out a number of successful, but large scale and time consuming projects, such as the Visa Digital Wallet and person-to-person payment, the financial services company wanted to explore faster ways of working and take advantage of the “people bringing disruption,” according to head of technology and PR Eleanor Orebi Gann.

“Fintech is really exciting at the moment, there is so much passion and disruption going on in the industry…but with that comes challenges when a lot of it is coming from outside and a lot of it is coming from the start-up community,” she said.

“Our products are all good products and are rolling out at various extends across Europe at the moment… but what that didn’t allow us to do was to respond quickly to what is going in the market in the mean team.”

Gann admitted that Visa “had to have a conversation” with itself about how it could better engage with start-ups in the digital community and make things happen faster.

As a result the Collab was born and the offshoot, which operates separately to the main Visa business to allow it to act fleet of foot, now has 20 people working to find the best start-ups to help grow the company’s innovation.

In its first year, Visa Europe Collab aims to take a minimum of 20 ideas through its 100-day innovation “sprint process” from initial scoping and qualification, through market testing and design to proof of concept.

Of those completed proofs of concept, the best new validated and commercially viable services will be handed back into the main body of the Visa business where they’ll be nurtured into fully grown services that can be rolled out to Visa member banks, retailers and consumers across Europe.

Marks and Spencer

As M&S looks to put data at the heart of decision making across the business how does the retailer approach the much mooted data skills gap? “I don’t try and hunt for the unicorn,” said Pete Williams, head of enterprise analytics at M&S.

“Trying to find a unicorn, which is somebody fresh out of university with incredible maths capability just doesn’t work for me… a team strength is to make sure you are covering off assets of skills and as people build other areas it’s about mixing skills.”

Those skills needed for a well-functioning data analytics team, said Williams, include a mix of personalities and thinking processes including artists and philosophers who can bring a different point of view to the table.

Williams did admit that it is difficult for companies such as M&S to sometimes internally comprehend the responsibilities of the data analysis team as they have changed drastically over time.

“[It is] as much about understanding within the organisation around what the analysis team does which is different to in the past,” he added.

Ogilvy Pride

Meanwhile Andrew Barrat, founder and head of Ogilvy Pride UK, which works to increase diversity within the creative and advertising industry, highlighted the importance of why the creative industry needs to embrace diversity and take a more proactive approach to LGBT representation.

"Globally they [the LGBT community] are worth over a trillion dollars as a consumer group and in America alone they are worth $750m, so they are well worth marketing to," he said.

Barrat pointed to data collected from Google and YouTube as a point of reference, which found that when millennials were greeted with equality-themed content marketing they are 47 per cent more likely to engage with the brand.

He cited Tiffany & Co's recent major advertising campaign, created by Ogilvy's New York office, which featured gay couples, as a prime example of LGBT marketing in action.