The digital industry’s not really about technology, it’s about people. The digital economy is supported by technology but is conceived, created and developed by people, the heroes of digital.
But who are their heroes? Who inspired, supported and taught them along their journey and to become digital heroes?
We want to find out. So, we’re asking some of our industry’s leading figures to nominate their digital hero and to explain what’s so special about them.
Jon Mew, CEO of the IAB and one of the nicest people in digital, has long been one of the driving forces of the UK’s digital industry.
Who is your digital hero?
Sienne Veit — Director, Digital, John Lewis. She is a personal hero as she very much leads the industry by example, innovating, experimenting but also taking the time to help others.
In particular she was a massive help to me at the start of my time at the IAB.
While we were trying to persuade the industry that smartphones were going to be a device that the masses would adopt (hard to believe looking back that it was such a struggle) one of the companies at the time experimenting the most was Marks and Spencer (again that might be hard to believe now). That effort was led by Sienne in her previous role.
It takes a brave person to push for change but Sienne was the first to try many different things in mobile, from QR codes on pack to building a mobile site.
I’m sure not everything was a massive success, but through experimenting they learned, developed and were one of the first businesses to start selling high value items on mobile.
How has their heroism helped drive digital?
The great thing about Sienne is not only she did lead change internally, her inquisitive nature meant she would want to learn from others and share her experiences in the process.
I never learnt any trade secrets from Sienne sadly, but her work was constantly showcased as best in class, and this helped to encourage other businesses to change.
While at the IAB we spent several years trying to persuade businesses to build mobile solutions, Sienne was always a long way ahead.
What the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?
I think we need more people that are brave enough to experiment, learn and not be scared of failure. Most businesses don’t generate a culture that focuses on the long term, when it comes to digital that’s a problem.
The whole point of experimenting is to explore what works and what doesn’t — with so much short termism around that becomes hard.
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
It’s not heroic but I’m most proud of our work at the IAB that focuses on making digital advertising better. The Gold Standard is a great example and we’ve witnessed businesses improve their practices as a result.
Our Transparency FAQs are another example, they provide key questions and answers into how the participating ad tech companies operate. While we’d never claim we’ve fixed issues, we’re working hard with other trade bodies to try.