Tech giving sector a cutting edge

Robert McClements pictured in Leeds. Pic: Simon Hulme
Robert McClements pictured in Leeds. Pic: Simon Hulme
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The communications and marketing industry is becoming more and more sophisticated as a result of technological development, according to the boss of a regional sector organisation.

CDi (Creative Digital Industries) will be hosting its annual Visual Media Conference in Leeds later this month.

Robert McClements, president of CDi, believes that the impact of technology coupled with innovation and the use of data has given the communications sector an added edge.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, he said: “The whole industry is becoming more sophisticated, through competition and the drive for excellence in innovation.”

CDi launched the Visual Media Conference to create a platform for sharing best practices in the communications industry.

This will be the fifth year that the event is held in Leeds and its growth has mirrored the sector’s growth in the region.

Mr McClements said: “It was obvious that we needed a platform for sharing best practice to put the skills of the region into perspective.

“We found quite quickly that there were people in the region that were recognised as international leaders.”

One of the big themes at this year’s event will be virtual reality (VR). While planning for VMC 2018, Mr McClements realised early on that VR would be a key issue for the industry.

The event will examine the hype around virtual reality and see how it could fit into marketing communications.

The president of CDi hopes that delegates who attend VMC will go away enlightened and will be able to make informed decisions around what technology to adopt.

“Maybe we’ll reach a conclusion about what kind of technology is worthwhile and how much of it should be used,” Mr McClements said.

The conference will feature speakers from across the world. Jasper de Tarr, currently a content producer for River Studios in San Francisco, will fly into demonstrate live and immersive theatre.

Kim Arazi, founder and CEO of IN3, an innovation hub and consultancy, will be giving contemporary examples of how multisensory experiences, combined with new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, give brands the chance to engage with their customers in a more impactful way.

Other speakers include Jonathan Sands, chairman of Leeds-based brand design agency Elmwood, who will be talking about biomotive triggers in the field of sensory marketing.

Phil Batty, director of public engagement and legacy at Hull UK City of Culture 2017, will present the case study of the £32m UK City of Culture project in Hull, complete with the economic impact metrics.

Mr McClements said that it was a “delight” to contact people within the industry across the world and see their enthusiasm and interest in what the region is producing.

“It’s been an amazing journey from a modest gathering of 40 like-minded friends to over 240 industry peers all excited to learn and embrace these exciting industries we work in,” he added.

Visual Media Conference takes place on March 27 at the Rose Bowl in Leeds and is free to attend.

Conference a digital showcase

The Visual Media Conference will be opened once again by Roger Marsh OBE, chairman of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

He said: “The Leeds City Region digital economy contributes £6.5bn to the local economy, employs 102,000 people, and is home to many world leading digital companies.

“I look forward to attending this conference – a great showcase for the region’s digital sector – and hearing from and meeting industry leaders from across the City Region.”

Jon Bailey, founding partner of the VMC, said success of the event was “a testament to the power of collaboration and willingness to back an idea”, as the conference returns for a fifth year.