“For every delightful digital product with brilliant utility that saves you money, there’s always a dark side, a trade-off, between that and personal privacy”. Wise words from Eva Pascoe, internet pioneer, at Cyber-Duck's All I Want For Digital event last week.

Hosted at the private members’ Home Grown Club in Mayfair, the event welcomed industry leaders, clients and friends of the agency to an evening of panel debate and conversation focused on considering future direction on the critical digital themes of People, Planet and Product.

Before the panel took to the stage, we opened the evening with our All I Want For Digital campaign video, featuring contributors such as the BBC’s former technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, broadcaster Mik Scarlet, and comedy script writer Sara Gibbs sharing their digital wishes for the future.

What followed were 20-minute sessions of discussion and powerful opinion on each of the three key topics, welcoming questions from our guests throughout.

Our panellists speaking at the event. They are sitting in a row in front of a screen which says People Ready, holding microphones and having an active discussion. The audience are watching with interest.

Our panellists discussing the topics of the evening.

Talking about the future of People, panellist Jayen Parmar, DDAT lead at the College of Policing responsible for digital innovations, highlighted the importance of trust and empowerment around diversity and inclusion within organisations:

“There is no point in bringing diverse people into an operation if you mould them into thinking in the existing organisational way of doing things. If you bring diverse people in you must make sure you empower them, motivate them and trust them to do a good job."

Chair of futurist thinktank Cybersalon Eva Pascoe spoke of the Black Mirror-esque challenges of future hybrid working practices and managing office space, occupancy and associated costs. She explained how businesses want to measure and understand occupancy to the point where some have used desk sensors, but employees do not want to be monitored and tracked down to how often they visit the loo… 

Eva’s new book ‘22 Ideas About The Future’, which was offered to guests on departure, also shines a light on the use of employee data in one near future short story where health data tracking of employees goes horribly wrong. What would happens if the IOT health tracker maintains, erroneously, that you’re dead..? (Answer, nothing good.)

On the topic of Planet and sustainability, Carl Pratt, the visionary founder of Future Planet, a community of collaboration and action to help transition society to circular, regenerative business models (Future Planet has worked with changemakers ASOS, Rapha, Coca-Cola and more besides), urged businesses to address their sustainability transition plans right now.

“Very few public companies are doing enough. But next year it will dramatically shift in the UK and it will be mandatory to have a transition plan in place to demonstrate to stakeholders. Your investors will ask what is your transition plan and it will link profit with your impact on the planet. No matter where you are in the supply chain, you will be asked to comply. It’s a question of good risk management at the very minimum.’

Eva Pascoe, who is former managing director of Topshop online and founder of the world’s first chain of internet cafés Cyberia, is also steering ecommerce brands towards a more sustainable future. But when it comes to the design of digital products, she says you cannot impose regulation before innovation:

“You cannot predict technology. You have to let it rip, and regulation comes after. As leaders in companies, you have to protect the innovation or else we will never progress.”

It was a genuinely thought-provoking evening of discussion which, fuelled by sustainably sourced food and themed People, Planet and Product cocktails, sparked some fresh ideas for all of us going into 2023. Thank you to our three panellists and all our guests who attended. We’re already planning our next one, so watch out for updates.