CDO Wrap: November

29 November 2018

Somehow, I’m writing the last CDO Wrap for 2018! Whoever is pressing the fast-forward button, please stop!

In all seriousness, the last couple of months have been so full and quick, yet so deeply exciting. Where to begin?

Well, Something Digital happened. 400 people arrived at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) to delve into the realities and consequences (intended and otherwise) of the digital world we live in.

Unlike most local digital conferences, Something Digital wasn’t just about marketing. It was about artificial intelligence (AI), real AI and how Airbus is using it (thank you Airbus head of AI, Adam Bonnefield for joining us).

It was also about sovereign identity on the blockchain and ending the slave trade (Mariana Dahan from the World Identity Network had us floored).

We explored the impact and implications bias in machine learning from digital anthropologist, Caroline Sinders, and we got a glimpse into the future from Justin Hendrix, the executive director at NYC Lab. And that’s just the international keynotes!

I could write so many articles about Something Digital but I’ll simply say that when we first started thinking about a digital festival as part of the Digital Brisbane 2.0 Strategy, I imagined something awesome. Nadine Zrino and Lisa Renneisen from Bright Conferences, along with the Chair in Digital Economy and Digital Brisbane teams, created something that exceeded those expectations. As I sat trying to live-tweet, absorb the information and effectively MC, I honestly felt I was experiencing all the highlights of my SxSW adventures over the years, all in one day, all in Brisbane. Put October 24, 2019 in your diary NOW and check out the wrap up here.

Just when I thought Brisbane’s year in digital couldn’t get any better, Brisbane Innovate happened. Another 400 people converged on the BCEC (same room, different purpose, six days apart) to solve the city’s chunky problems: circular economy, neighbourhood pride and social isolation.

We heard from QLD’s new Chief Entrepreneur, Leanne Kemp, about innovations, opportunities and possibilities in supply chain and waste reimagination (speech is here), before hearing from an inspirational panel about creative funding sources for your civic projects.

Conversations are continuing over at Mindhive (simply search for Brisbane Innovate) and I can’t wait to see the submissions that come through next week. If you missed it, or want to reconnect with Brisbane Innovate, visit here.

What else?

Well, the city’s startup and innovation hub The Capital was recognised at the Australian Smart Cities Awards with a high commendation in the Built Environment category. The joint submission between Brisbane Marketing & ISPT outlined the public-private partnership to create The Capital, with the award acknowledging the successful collaboration project between multiple parties including ISPT, Brisbane Marketing and delivery partners Fishburners and Little Toyko Two.

We also won the Digital Transformation Leader award at the APAC IDC Digital Transformation Awards, for the Digital Brisbane 2.0 strategy.

All of that in just the past two months!

It tops off an extraordinary year which saw the digital confidence index released, giving us new insight into how small business owners are really feeling about their business in the digital world – it’s not about literacy and maturity anymore!

We hosted too many events to list here, though a highlight was certainly The ART of Digital Chair in Digital Economy event as part of Myriad at The Tivoli (who remembers the warm-up with Pub Choir?!).

The number of startups at The Capital grew so much we expanded into the community space on level two, with new accelerators and landing pads in place. We awarded $20,000 to local entrepreneurs who are scaling their businesses interstate and overseas through the Lord Mayor’s Global Entrepreneur Grant, and another 600 ‘ninjas’ (kids aged 7 -14) learned to code at CoderDojo. We also empowered another 800 odd small business owners to use digital platforms in their business through our Power-Up for small business programs (podcasts can be found here).

This all sounds a bit self-indulgent but I’m incredibly proud of how far Brisbane’s digital journey has come in the past few years. When in Singapore recently, I was reminded that we are batting above our weight in innovation, digital confidence and sophistication, startups and collaboration.

I’ve always said my role is to help make Brisbane even more awesome than it already is and this year the Digital Brisbane team has delivered extraordinary awesomeness. A huge thanks to Nat King and Nat Duncan, Kate Holmes, Mark Lawrence, Penny Massey, Ashleigh Elliott and Brittany Mohr who keep the little engine that could, going.

Also, eternal gratitude to partners including CoderKidz, Bright Conferences, Chair in Digital Economy, CitySmart, Little Tokyo 2, Fishburners, BCC’s Smart Connected Brisbane office and everyone else who has worked with us to make magic happen this year.

Most of all, kudos to you, the extraordinarily committed and passionate Brisbane business community who just keep showing up to be part of a thriving, digitally enabled, globally connected economy.

With November drawing to a close, I doubt we’ll get another message to you this year. I’ll simply say Merry Christmas. I hope you have a fabulous break and I look forward to an even more awesome year with you in 2019.


Cat Matson

Chief Digital Officer

Digital tech is an enabler, not an end outcome. I am excited by the opportunities digital presents. But digital for digital’s sake is the antithesis of digital transformation.

As Chief Digital Officer for the City of Brisbane, I drive the Digital Brisbane strategy. This includes building the digital capability and capacity of Brisbane’s business community; galvanising and showcasing the city’s start-up ecosystem; and informing the strategy for a smart-connected Brisbane.

I co-host the Social Media for Small Business Podcast with Suzi Dafnis of HerBusiness. Every fortnight or so we interview a new guest about different aspects of social media in the small business context.

I love chairing panel conversations of experts and thought leaders – juicy conversations with different perspectives spark fabulous ideas. I also enjoy delivering keynote presentations to interesting audiences.

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