In October 2018, after many years working in the private sector, I joined the marketing team within the Department for Enterprise (DfE) at a time of exciting change. Digital Isle of Man, Finance Isle of Man, Business Isle of Man and Visit Isle of Man – the four executive agencies of the DfE – had been created in May 2018: the Agencies sit alongside the Department's central functions of strategy and policy development, business intelligence and marketing, enterprise support, legislation, and the “Locate” team. Collectively, the functions work hand in hand with the private sector, growing real businesses, generating real jobs and real opportunities for the Island.
My role is to be the marketing partner for Digital Isle of Man. Mine seems to be the Agency that takes some explaining: it’s perfectly clear from their names what Finance, Business and Visit do – but people seem less clear about what Digital was established to achieve. Furthermore, just to confuse you, it’s not about digital marketing – although I do some of that, too!
Each of the Agencies has a board made up of private/public sector representatives, whose remit is to act as a key decision maker and advisory body. Their function is to promote and develop their sectors and deliver long-term, sustainable economic growth for the Isle of Man. Of course, I knew before I started that the DfE is responsible for economic development, and for the creation of an environment where local entrepreneurship is supported; but I now understand that this environment of innovation and collaboration is essential for the Isle of Man’s future growth and prosperity.
Digital Isle of Man focuses on the Island’s critically important digital sector and emerging initiatives, harnessing opportunities for a digital economy. These emerging frameworks are new entities that break uncharted ground, and it’s with some excitement that we enter a phase of creation in the digital world.
The face of marketing has changed dramatically in the past two decades, and it shows no sign of letting up. That said, one thing is clear: the parameters of digital marketing will continue to broaden whilst more traditional marketing techniques slowly become obsolete.
We’re currently riding the wave of digital novelties and entrepreneurial stardom, and it’s my job as a marketing partner to harness these opportunities through innovative digital tactics, promoting the Island as a beacon of opportunity and an environment for start-ups and entrepreneurs to flourish.
As an Island with an attractive relocation package, the Isle of Man holds a unique position amongst other competitive jurisdictions, and it’s this advantage that we need to exploit through the marketing and opportunities we offer.
Home to a dynamic cluster of digital-focussed businesses, from international corporate brands to start-ups breaking the status quo, there’s a unique energy and drive in the Isle of Man that has given life to an innovative and growing sector. Digital Isle of Man was created to support this sector, developing and implementing a strategy to support sustainable economic growth and establishing the Isle of Man as a centre of international excellence for the digital economy.
Think of the eGaming sector, with nearly 40 licensees. Think of huge global companies like Microgaming and PokerStars. Think of “out of this world” space sector businesses such as MannSat. Think of the Island’s thirty-year heritage in film making. Think of ground-breaking businesses like Quanta – the first licensed Blockchain-enabled lottery platform. All of these fall within the digital sector and, thus, within the remit of Digital Isle of Man. It’s a hugely diverse, constantly evolving, tremendously exciting sector: eGaming alone contributes around 18% of the Island’s GDP.
The Island has evolved into a well-respected digital jurisdiction with a robust infrastructure, and it’s fundamental that we nurture the environment we’ve created. The Digital Agency strives to make the Island a centre of digital excellence, in partnership with the industry sector, its representatives and its educational establishments. Therefore, in addition to championing innovation, Digital Isle of Man recognises the importance of strengthening the links between academia, research and ICT capabilities in the Island’s school leavers, university graduates and those returning to the workplace.
Recent marketing and promotional activity has centred around the ICE expo in London: it was my first time working there and, as colleagues had warned me, the scale of the event is simply mind-blowing.
Filling the enormous ExCel in Docklands, it was three full days of meeting clients old and new, cementing relationships with our stand partners from other Island-based businesses, and walking what my pedometer confirmed to be miles every day.
The ICE expo is an integral event in the digital calendar, as it provides a platform for us to boast about the advantageous nature of conducting business on the Island. It was wonderful and reassuring to see so many businesses in attendance who are already thriving in the Island’s digital environment.
The world’s first fully-licensed blockchain lottery was launched in the Isle of Man and it has positioned us as a pioneer and leader in blockchain and cryptocurrency, and its representation at ICE showcased the Island and its embrace of new technologies and frameworks.
We also dealt with a lot of media enquiries following the launch of two major initiatives at ICE.
The B2B software licence launch is a pivotal move for the future of the eGaming sector, which demonstrates the Island’s high standards of corporate governance and game fairness. Whilst the licence isn’t mandatory, the benefits for those who choose to be licensed are manifold, and its development is in response to the demand of those businesses wishing to be licensed by a highly experienced regulator.
The launch of our Blockchain Office and associated Sandbox is a product of the needs of blockchain businesses and aims to provide a streamlined transition through current and future regulatory landscapes through expert-led assistance and support, which is yet another process of cementing the Island as an international hub for digital businesses.
With digital innovations continuously pushing updates to adapt to the changes within the industry, it’s essential that we keep up to date with the propulsive nature of developments. Increasing visibility of the Isle of Man as a desirable business centre is perhaps the single most important factor in future-proofing the Island’s economy and infrastructure, and our marketing approach needs to be clearly expressed.
Providing new business start-ups with the support they need to navigate the digital landscape is the first link to enabling our Island’s digital evolution, and regular insights into the changing face of marketing should implement this change. Our on-Island approach will progress with emerging innovations and technologies, and with email marketing set to lead a change in digital trends, many marketers are implementing creative platforms to accelerate campaign performance and reduce errors.
Many email service providers have announced huge changes to their systems in 2019, and with a plethora of new mobile technologies which optimise imagery and high-pixel density being released this year, a change is dictated in the way we read and send email: mobile email continues to be the most popular reading environment for email, with 43% of emails opened on mobile devices.
Changes such as Apple’s Dark Mode and the introduction of Gmail Go (a stripped-back, lightweight version of the regular Gmail app) mean that changes to marketing emails need to be made in order to avoid a subpar user experience, and it’s a marketing method that is set to up the ante in the digital sector.
It’s an exciting time to be involved in the Department. The progression and triumph of digital businesses on the Isle of Man is the ultimate reassurance that Digital Isle of Man is succeeding in what it was set up to do: being responsible for the shared vision and strategy of the Island as an internationally well regarded and diverse digital nation.
Sarah Jarvis is Marketing Partner at Digital Isle of Man. She is an experienced and commercially-focused marketing professional with a proven record in implementing sound marketing and business development practice in line with business objectives, gained in the telecoms sector, professional services and the finance sector. She has also worked in the education sector, teaching both academic and professional students at the IOM Business School, and acting as Centre Director for the CMI programmes.
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