SPOTLIGHT: Digital Innovators’ Summit 2017

Digital media moves at an incredible pace. New platforms and business models are emerging all the time. Sometimes it is hard keeping up with the speed of all the changes.

That’s why Digital Innovators’ Summit (DIS), held in Berlin on 19-21 March, is a must for anyone in the media industry. It is the place to hear about the future of media and technology directly from the innovators who are driving change.


So to bring you closer to the spotlight, and explain more about the event and its merits, we interviewed Cobus Heyl, the Chief Content Officer and Marketing Manager at FIPP, one of the main organizers of DIS. You should also check out our list of top publishing events in 2017.

First, tell us a bit about the summit and how it all started.

Digital Innovators’ Summit (DIS) first started a decade ago as an event jointly organised by FIPP, the network for global media (at the time the worldwide magazine media association) and VDZ, the German publishers association. The aim of the two organisations was to assist its members along their digital journeys by showcasing best digital media innovations from around the world. 2017 will see DIS’ 10th celebration.

It has established itself as a premium, premier media event in Europe over the years, attracting some 600 mostly senior business delegates from 30+ countries to Berlin, where we not only share knowledge during our intensive 2-day programme of speakers, but also create opportunities for them to network, catch up and/or meet new people, and have some fun social outings too.

The format has expanded over the years to the point where the DIS programme includes three stages where 60+ speakers peer into the future, present innovation case studies and real life innovation experiences, deep-dive masterclasses, and more. In 2014, we further added an annual Digital Innovators Tour to the USA East and West Coast as a brand extension, taking place from 7-12 May this year. The Tour takes a small group of people (20 or so) to a range of media and technology businesses where they get the opportunity to engage in exclusive, off the record meetings with business leaders from those companies.

What are the greatest challenges you face, preparing for the summit?

I wouldn’t really call anything a “challenge”. The event is established, so we have processes in place from attracting speakers and sponsors, to dealing with logistics, marketing and so on and so forth. Being industry organisations we furthermore know our audiences well, which helps us in the design of the event each year. It’s actually a quite exciting space to be in, there are always new developments and innovations we can incorporate into the programme.


Of course the overall event space today is much more crowded than even a few years ago, so from that perspective you can say the competitive environment has become more challenging than before. But again, it all depends on your perspective. Competition is an opportunity in the sense that it brings the best out of everyone, to the benefit of your prospective audience.

What are your predictions for 2017 trends in digital publishing?

Everyone seems to do the list nowadays, don’t they? Rather than do the same, here are a few of the topic areas that will be discussed at DIS 2017:

  • Media and marketing in a connected world, including for example opportunities with Amazon Alexa.
  • The evolution of storytelling in a visual world, including video, TV and VR.
  • A wide number of audience-related developments, including in engagement, insight and predictive analytics.
  • Innovation in sectors ranging from news, magazine media and music to the luxury, media technologies and more.


Of course, making a business of all of this will as always be critical for any a publisher, and here there will be a number of conversations about revenue streams – from advertising to subscriptions and transacting to digital franchising and more. There is more in the preliminary programme on the website.

As you know, we are an ebook authoring and publishing tool. How can attending DIS benefit us?

Broadly, the audience groups attending DIS include publishers, marketeers and tech solution providers. For solution providers a benefit is the opportunity to meet potential business prospects, strike up conversations and hopefully build connections that lead to actual business. This is the obvious benefit.

But another factor is that attending provides fantastic insight into latest thinking and developments in storytelling and audience engagement, knowledge that will stand the service provider in good stead whether its the understanding of industry pain points and how they may solve those pains and/or how they approach their market in terms of the conversations they have an language they use. It’s a fantastic intelligence-gathering opportunity too.

Which regions are covered in your summit?

We do not think of it in geographical terms. We think of it in terms of innovation, no matter the core market where it takes place or originate. A lot of our speakers are from the US and from Europe, but we also bring others in, like in 2017, from places like India and Argentina when we think they have an interesting story to tell.


Audience-wise, because of Berlin as our location, it is fair to say the audience is Europe-dominated – at around 75 per cent. Overall, we get people from more than 30 markets. They find value not because the focus is on a particular geographical market, but rather because the innovation stories we share transcend geographical borders.

What types of companies should take part in the summit?

Media, marketing and technology companies where storytelling is a core part of business or of a business’ consumer engagement strategies, or where they have technologies to enable such companies.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

DIS 2017 takes place from 19-21 March in Berlin, Germany (with the main programme on 20 and 21 March). The Early Bird offer for DIS ends 31 January – people can go to to find out more about DIS and/or register. You will also find information about the Digital Innovators’ Tour (7-12 May) on the website.


So there you have it folks, don’t forget to head over to their website to know more about the event and how you could benefit most from it.

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