I was quite busy and engulfed in the digital and tech world over the past weeks – and it was exhilarating. Here is why?

DIGITEC21 AT THE HEART OF A DIGITAL MONTH IN ARMENIA

The Digitec21 Armenia’s public event was held over the weekend of 31 October with dozens of IT and Tech companies showcasing their services and offers to the Armenian public. The expo was more of an exercise in branding and positioning and less about direct B2B sales. Thousands of young professionals found their ways through the extremely well designed booths to discover new opportunities while offering companies a chance to recruit some new talent, a much needed and urgent issue in the field. In terms of space and environment, the venue offered a very emblematic post-soviet, and somewhat retro space that was juxtaposed with innovative, electronic screens and bright colored banners, creating a much desirable blend for younger, more “hip” audiences. Arguably, Digitec could easily become a regional event catering to the needs of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Turkey and Iran. It can act as a crossroad to European companies seeking to gain new markets in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The EU is keen on building such connections. One recent example is the EU-Central Asia Economic Forum, a platform created in 2020 as a post Covid-19 action to “support green and resilient recovery from the socio-economic crisis”.  It is no surprise that the EU4Business project was sponsoring the event. In my opinion, I can see many startups from the above mentioned countries attending, presenting and eventually connecting with new markets, right here in Yerevan.  Besides the public expo, the event hosted a series of talks and B2B networking opportunities. Talks, receptions and side events allowed investors, VCs, and well-established entrepreneurs to share their innovative ideas and roadmaps to success with eager audiences. While this part of the event may need a nudge to become a tad more polished, it was nonetheless carried out professionally and is by far one of the more productive business networks I have seen for some time. In my 18 years of on-the-ground experience in the region, I see an untapped potential that could undoubtedly be grasped, with the proper communications strategy and marketing-communications action plan. Professionals in this area can play an important role from branding, promotion, communication, storytelling, and event management.
DEEM at DIGITEC21
DEEM at DIGITEC21

DEEM AT DIGITEC21

Deem Communications professionals took their turn to roam around and get a feel of the bustling industry; to discover new initiatives, visit existing partners and make new contacts. DEEM has been working with the telecommunications, IT, AI and software companies for over a decade now, offering services such as brand awareness, event management, UI/UX and stratcomm planning in Armenia as well as the USA, Emirates and Europe. This year, within the frames of its collaboration with the newly launched ReArmenia Crowdfunding portal, DEEM has also become engaged in supporting 2 crowdfunding initiatives. Both are tech based and are in need communications support and financing. The first, is the Martouni Technopark for the youth in Artsakh; the second is called Qaylaber, a med-tech tool to help people with disabilities to mimic the motions of walking to avoid further illnesses to arise. Digitec21, was an ideal platform to build networks and solicit support for the fundraising campaigns of both projects. After all, in quoting Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, networking is the No.1 unwritten rule of success in business. 

DIGIWEEK SUMMIT 2021

I made a point to attend the public event. But I also took a stop by at the DigitWeek Summit held over the following days. Topics included: sustainability, financing and venture capital, the AI phenomenon as well as talent and knowledge management. This part of the week invited C-level professionals, entrepreneurs and academics to dig deeper and discuss issues that are of importance for Armenia, but more so, the globe. The speakers, both joining live from Motor Yerevan space (the venue of the talks) or via live feed, shared personal experiences and offered insights. My expectations were somewhat met. I say somewhat because I thought the discussions tapped the surface. I was hoping to delve deeper into the “dirty” sides of AI – matters that frighten us, or are yet unknown to us non-scientists. I was hoping they would cover the scope, and range of AI, the negative impact on the current work force, the environment and other important issues that have been raising eyebrows worldwide; especially that the COP26 was taking place simultaneously in Glasgow as the tech month in Armenia.  Perhaps the format was not ready, or maybe it was intentionally unwilling to go that far, but what is the benefit of a conference – a summit, no less – if we are not going to hash out all the components of such an urgent topic. Nice words and praises will not help us get to the next level of understanding and finding better and more sustainable solutions to the damage being caused by high tech and global digitization of the work force, of infrastructure, of life as we know it.  Admission fee to the Summit was quite reasonable and make it accessible. To my (pleasant) surprise, the venue was non-traditional and very trendy, which created an engaging atmosphere for the attendees and speakers. The language of the DigiWeek Summit was English. This meant that the target audience would be those who spoke or understood the language. Therefore, local teams, professionals but also possible participants from foreign countries. As a communications professional, I would welcome and encourage the organizers to go beyond the local market and promote their event internationally. They would gain new audiences that bring in new flavors, new ideas and spark more vivid and, why not, deeper discussion around topics that are of high interest to all.
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COLLABORATION AS THE FORMULA FOR SUCCESS

Parallel to these events, other conferences took place in the country, including : the Hyetech Showcase 2021 with discussions mostly about talent and how it matters to the tech world; the Scale Gyumri Conference 2021 by Synergy Armenia and so many others. All of which bring together some really amazing and highly accomplished entrepreneurs, VCs, scientists, philanthropists, investors and young startups from the USA, Europe, India, Russia and so many other parts of the world. Some concrete collaborations happened as a result. I personally know of new ventures and projects that have ignited and will soon become shining examples of what such collaborations can achieve. So, imagine what impact can be achieved if collaboration between all these events was planned and well-orchestrated!  Basically, what I am saying is, the future is bright for those who see the light – and in this sphere, the light is quite bright in Armenia!

Author:  Raffi Niziblian

Creative Director & Founder

Deem Communications

November, 2021