London Meetup: 8 Reasons To Cheer The Future Of Digital Media

Thanks to all who turned out for our latest mixer and panel event at MSN’s UK HQ Wednesday night.

As well as London bidding a farewell to Rafat from ContentNext, I had set our four panelists some homework for what, for us, was an unusual exercise – optimistically looking to bright future opportunities in digital media, with no time for overly negative or critical analysis.

After what’s been a depressing year for many, here were their eight reasons why things are now looking up. Thanks to them, and to MSN for its hosting and support…

1. In the downturn, people are becoming their own boss or brand

Julie Meyer, CEO, Ariadne Capital: “Considering what we’re going to have to do to shift and downsize government, it’s pretty good that people are learning what it means to run their own business.”

2. More people are creating more content than ever before

Peter Bale, executive producer, MSN: “It’s never been easier to be informed – the way we see major stories reported makes me extremely optimistic about the future of journalism; it’s all good.”

3. On the mobile internet, people spend money on quality content

David Rowan, editor, Wired UK: “The mobile internet is rising seven or eight times as quickly as the desktop internet did a decade ago.” On Wired’s iPad edition: “The next iteration will involve much more ability to network with other people.”

4. Forget the web, now we can build big mobile-only companies

Rafat Ali, founder, ContentNext: “For the first time, you have the chance to build a mobile-only company of scale, without even bothering about online. One of the ideas I’m playing with is taking that and extending it. There’s one sector I’m interested in that I think will actually do quite well, taking an old-line media concept – forget the web – and reinventing it on mobile only.”

5. Mobile banking will be huge

Julie Meyer: Meyer praised one of her portfolio companies, Monitise: “It will have impact on the mobile world, but also on financial services, as big as a company like Visa.”

6. Story-telling technology is getting better and cheaper

Peter Bale: Video, text, et al – presentation is getting cheaper and easier for journalists, but more beautiful and effective. “I’m incredibly optimistic about the proliferation of ways for people to create stories at very low cost. It’s one of the most personally compelling and exciting events in my career.”

7. In a digital world, analogue businesses will add online value

David Rowan: “Batteries go down, you can only look at screens for so many hours in a day. I spend £14 every eight weeks for an architecture magazine – it’s an experience you can’t replicate on a screen. Don’t forget the old guard – there’s value if you can do something that the net can’t do.”

8. Social media is improving customer service

Rafat Ali: Companies are using networks to learn what customers think and like, addressing consumer concerns and leading to a virtuous circle of better service.

Here’s an audio clip with a parting shot from Rafat…