Digital Mission Blog

Digital Mission The Digital Mission series is run by Chinwag to support UK-based digital companies expand into new markets and attract overseas investment.

Digital Mission to New York including Econsultancy's JUMP Conference (28th Oct - 2nd Nov)


In some very exciting news, Digital Mission is returning with it's fourth trip to New York this Autumn, from 28th October - 2nd November.

Following on from 2010's successful Digital Mission to NYC trip, this Mission to New York will co-incide with JUMP, Econsultancy's conference focusing on the latest trend, 'Joined-up Marketing' - bringing Online and Offline together, successfully.

The packed programme builds on the Digital Mission's momentum and relationships with New York-based entrepreneurs, agencies, and digital practitioners to create a cracking line up of activities.

The trip will be aimed at fast-growing UK firms in the digital and agency sector focusing on media, marketing, advertising, real-time bidding, big data, app development, analytics, professional services (design/technical/UX/game development) any suppliers to the marketers in agencies and major brands.

// Find out more about Digital Mission to New York '12

JUMP Conference, 1st Nov 2012

jumpThis year's trip will be based around Econsultancy's JUMP Conference on 1st Nov. JUMP is a one-day event focused on the new strategies, tactics and techniques that happen when you stop thinking online/offline and start thinking about the critical trend of 'joined up marketing'.

It's a day packed with best-practice advice, new research, challenging opinions and some very cool case studies.

The idea is simple: engage the most senior marketers in the US with a compelling content program and top-tier networking.

// Find out more about JUMP

How Much & What Does the Mission Include?

For a total cost of £1,800 + VAT* per company, the Digital Mission will include:

  • Digital Mission Programme
  • Dedicated Conference Stand & Company Branding at JUMP
  • 5 minute Pitch Session at JUMP
  • Inclusion in JUMP Conference Brochure
  • 2 x JUMP Conference Passes
  • Post-Conference Networking

Further details on the Digital Mission programme and JUMP will be announced soon.

* Includes 2 delegates per company, excludes travel & accommodation costs.

Apply Now

Application Deadline: Fri 5th October

Photo (cc) kaysha

Pearson International's Lessons in Global Growth: People are the Secret Sauce

Avenue of Flags at the UN Building by Erin Faulkner

On the face of it, it's tough to draw parallels between one of Britain's oldest publishing business and small, fast-growing firms in the digital, or any other, industry sector. But there's some useful lessons to be learnt here that apply to any business, especially those based on intellectual property.

Last week, the folks at Fresh Minds invited me to a breakfast roundtable with guest speaker, Mark Anderson, President of Strategy for Pearson International who took us on a tour of Pearson International's journey from book publisher to one of the world's largest education providers.

What does it take to transform an organisation in a very traditional and challenged business to a truly global corporation with profitable businesses in emerging markets? The answer it turns out, is taken straight from the start-up lexicon, a pivot. For 3 founders in a co-working space, this is no big deal for a £1bn FTSE-listed company it's a slightly bigger deal.

The answer for Pearson has been to focus on its educational business and a slow transformation from a high-volume, low margin publishing business to a lower volume, far higher margin education business. It's a story of understanding customers and where they place value. If it's not in your traditional products or services, it's time to change.

The underlying change for the business is the shift from reliance on content as the backbone of revenues to the delivery of content through educational. That's certainly a challenge for a large organisation, but coincidentally also a great position to benefit from the opportunities in the emerging markets.

As Mark explained, "[Pearson] is becoming the kind of organisation that we used to regard as our customer. There's not much more of a profound change than that. 5 years ago, schools, universities, and language schools were customers. Now Pearson owns these businesses and acquisition capital is focused on owning these operations."

Understanding the Consumer

At the heart of this change is a thorough understanding of the customer. What's their behaviour? What's their motivation? For Pearson, and likely many other companies looking at BRIC and other emerging markets these customers are markedly different from those in the Europe and the US.

Pearson's laser-like focus on education was driven by some astounding numbers, as Mark explained, "Driven by income increase and aspiration, the sheer number of people at university, between now and 2020 will rise from 155m to nearly 250m. That's an extra 100m students. Governments around the world, especially in this financial climate can't afford to cater for this."

That's a colossal opportunity, especially when emerging markets don't have the rapidly shrinking legacy that we enjoy in Europe of tax-payer funded 'free' education. Mark continued, "the view in the developing world is in stark contrast, 44% of children in India go to private schools, whilst most of the 6m people at university in Brazil attend one of the 2,000 private universities." 

The expectation is that education will cost, and that cost must have a benefit for the individuals paying i.e. increased salary, benefits and a better standard of living. When that cost is a significant chunk of household expenditure, the decision isn't taken lightly often requiring life-long saving by the parents.

In China, Mark described how, "Students pay $5k for a 12 month language course. It's a simple investment return calculation. Students ask 'what will that outlay do for my employment prospects'." The company can't build language schools fast enough. There are as many people learning English in China as speak it in the rest of the world. 

Finding the Value or Where Did My Intellectual Property Go?

In the 1960s, Longman's English textbook became the standard textbook for learning English in China. Trouble is, of the hundreds of millions of copies printed, most of them were pirated. The characteristics of many of the markets in China, India and Brazil is piracy.

This doesn't bode well for a business that relies on publishing, as Mark explained, "For every £100 spent globally on education only £8 spent on books or resources. The approach in developing markets is a move from publishing and selling books to digitising content to delivering education. It's a profound change."

For those interested in the dynamics of how piracy shapes markets The Pirate's Dilemma is worth a gander. In this instance the piracy in China has helped establish Longman as the standard textbook in English language learning, but "earnt pennies" for the company and the book's authors. 

He continued, "60% of Pearson's business remains in content, most of that in print. There's lots of talk about Internet delivery but the reality is that most people at school and university still buy books and will do so for a while yet. 40% of the business is not publishing, and in 5 years, as little as 30% of business will be in content."

What's telling in this description of the change in business is the way that the piracy of the emerging markets has driven a fundamental change across Pearson. The focus from publishing and production of content is shifting dramatically to the delivery of that content.

The 'real' content, if anything, is the training and methodologies that are used within the schools, universities and language schools that the company is busy buying and building.

Organisational Change

This kind of shift in an company's business model is difficult to imagine without a correspondingly large change in the organisation itself. As Mark pointed out, "[It meant] re-thinking the kind of organisation that Pearson is." The focus shifting from content to people brings a whole new set of challenges, underlined by the sheer scale of engagement that's required.

One of the company's businesses, the Wall St language school chain in China, employs 18,000 people. Next year that business will need to recruit an additional 3,500 people.

"That's probably more than everyone that's been hired in the main Pearson business to date", he said, continuing, "Equally profound changes in doing that not least of which is managing risk and reputation. Do your schools delivery quality education. Pearson owns edexcel who are currently doing A level marking. People rely on this being correct, when it's not, all hell breaks loose and you can find yourself on Breakfast News and the Daily Mail."

That's quite a shift and it's clear that the approach in the emerging markets is what's driving this, "In China and India, nearly 100% of business won't be in content. To fuel that, have had to learn about new business models and ways of doing business, some through startup, some through acquisition."

During the Q&A, I asked Mark how the 'mothership' of Pearson International had had to re-organise itself to cope with these changes, and what it meant for leadership.

"When I joined (for the second time), the centre of the international business with sales of £1bn had a staff of just 4 people! I re-joined company and with the new HR director the head count grew to 6 people. Now centrally the company has 100 staff, but it's still not enough.", adding, "Switching focus to people is putting a huge stress on Pearson's people systems."

And it's very, very much about having a centre which is extremely multi-cultural and therefore understands the regional responsibility. The team are from South Africa, America, India and far more besides. It also need strongly empowered regional heads, not a case of 'sending people out to the colonies' any more. A very two-way relationship."

He also mentioned that the international CEO, "had a clear view that this was they way the business was going to shift" and that the core values of the company provided the foundations for this shift, "Certain things that bind Pearson together for last 15 years, the values that are common currency. There's a very tough view e.g. anti-bribery and corruption which have a huge reputational risk."

The last couple of weeks, I've begun the planning Social Media Week London, a week of events that on the surface is about social media, but in reality is about the connections between people. It's interesting reflecting on the session with Mark, in how a international firm is shifting direction based on finding the value in the connection and communication between people.

Photo (cc) Erin Faulkner via Flickr. Thanks to Fresh Minds for the invite and Mark Anderson for presenting.

Deadline Extended for UKTI Multi-Sector Mission to China, led by Lord Green (May '12)

Beijing Skyline

The deadline for UKTI's high profile Trade Mission to China (taking place 28th May - 1st June 2012) has been extended to end of play, Wednesday 25th April.

The multi-sector mission, which will be led by Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade & Investment, is timed to coincide with the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) and will also include a "UK Day" Showcase with networking and bespoke b2b meetings, networking with Chinese government officials and more.

Find out more about the Mission Benefits and other important details here.

How to Apply

To apply, download and complete the application form attached to this blog. Completed forms are to be returned to Allegra Monico or Jack Bailey at uktimissionsatbtob [dot] co [dot] uk (further details below). Closing date for applications is end of play, Wednesday 25th April.

For further information, please contact:

Allegra Monico
Tel: 020 7700 0008
Email:uktimissionsatbtob [dot] co [dot] uk
Please include the code UKTIC1 in the subject line of your email or quote it when registering by phone.

Please note:This is not a Digital Mission and/or a mission related to Chinwag.

Photo (cc) Michael McDonough

UKTI China Multi-Sector Mission Booking Form195 KB

Applications Open: UKTI Multi-Sector Mission to China Led by Lord Green (May 2012)

birdsnest stadium

UKTI Trade and Investment are running a high profile Trade Mission to China from 28th May - 1st June 2012, led by Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade & Investment.

The multi-sector mission is timed to coincide with the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) and will also include a "UK Day" Showcase with networking and bespoke b2b meetings, networking with Chinese government officials and more.

To apply, complete this application form and return to Allegra at B-to-B (details on form or below). Closing date for applications is Friday 20th April.

Who's Invited?

The mission will be made up of UK companies from a number of sectors including:

Digital Media

Digital media, animation and games industries have grown fast in China. With rapid adoption of digital devices and the internet penetration, multi-terminals, smart terminals and the convergence of TV, PC and handsets have become the development trent with large numbers of new applications flourishing rapidly in the country. Great co-operative opportunities lie in creative planning, program co-production suitable for the Chinese and international markets, and technologies that help improve users' experience especially for multiplatforms and terminals.

Advertising/Branding/Corporate Communications

China is now one of the largest advertising countries in the world. Many more Chinese brand owners are seeking to internationalise their bands, this is an exciting opportunity for the UK's world-class creatives.

Mission Benefits

The mission is timed to coincide with the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), hosted by Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) of China and organised by the People's Government of Beijing Municipality which is designed to be a comprehensive international service trading platform.

The Fair comprises of a large exhibition, high-level forum and trade talks between Chinese cities and international participants. The event includes a UK Day tailored to showcase British Business and wil prvide valuable exposure to those who participate.

You'll also benefit from:

  • Expert support and advice from UKTI staff based in China and the UK
  • A tailored "UK Day" showcase event organised by UK Trade & Investment, with networking and bespoke business to business meetings
  • Exceptional networking opportunities with Chinese government officials, buyers, press and other mission attendees, including at receptions
  • Free entry and participation at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS)
  • High publicity and media exposure for the UK delegation. The event will be led by Lord Green and is part of the UK government's Great Campaign in China
  • The UK showcase event and mission delegation will be advertised in CIFTIS promotional materials

Other Important Details

The participation fee for this Mission is £888 per company (including VAT).

UKTI are subsiding some of the mission costs. Given that this is a ministerial led mission the participation fee is fantastic value.

Your business must be established within the UK and selling or marketing a British product or service. Eligibility to participate will be assessed by UKTI Sectors Team.

N.B. You will be responsible for booking your flights & accommodation. B-to-B (see contact below) will be able to recommend hotels and flights. Please do not book travel or accommodation prior to receiving confirmation of your place.

How to Apply

To apply, download and complete the application form attached to this blog. Completely forms are to be returned to Allegra Monico or Jack Bailey at uktimissionsatbtob [dot] co [dot] uk 

For more information, please contact:

Allegra Monico
Tel: 020 7700 0008
Email: uktimissionsatbtob [dot] co [dot] uk
Please include the code UKTIC1 in the subject line of your email or quote it when registering by phone.

Closing date for applications is Friday 20th April 2012.

Mission website and flyer:

Please note: This is not a Digital Mission and/or a mission related to Chinwag.

Photo (cc) Earth Hour Global

UKTI China Multi-Sector Mission Booking Form195 KB

Get Your Company Noticed at SXSW - Enter The Founder Awards 2012

SXSW is just a couple of days away and the whole tech world is gearing up to fill their boots with the latest and greatest from one of the biggest events of the year. Last year the event saw attendance of over 49,000 from all over the world, with ±40% of that number firmly in the Tech camp - AKA Interactive.

So with the tech world watching, and the entire event on the look out for the next big thing, its no surprise that SXSW will be awash with a flood of new product noise, as founders and start-ups jostle to promote the next big thing.

So this year to help out, Publicate and Sarah Austin from Pop17 have joined forces with a host of companies (Rackspace and StartUpBus to name a few) to host The Founder Awards 2012, a big celebration of the good, the bad and the bust of the start up world.

The competition is open to all founders and startups, and offers a very public stage from which to tell their story, running on - a new content marketing platform perfect for promoting multimedia content that promotes you.

The winners of the various categories will be decided based on the highest overall public votes cast on and the final decisions will be made by the prestigious panel including Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble during a live awards ceremony on the main stage at the down town Hilton on Sunday the 12th (time TBC)

For more details and to enter visit and get your story told!

Publicate and Sarah will be running around SXSW and at the Great British Tea Party and Breakfast, so come and grab us for a chat about your story.