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Utah’s digital media industry gathered at Jordan Commons yesterday and today for the PushButton Summit, now in its third year.
During the summit’s keynote event, industry leaders addressed the challenges and opportunities in Utah’s digital media sector.
The state is looking to create world-class thinkers to be employed at digital media companies, said Jon Dean, vice president and general manager of Electronic Arts All Play. States and countries are “offering massive incentives to get their foot in the door of becoming the center of digital media,” Dean said.
But Utah has to continue creative work in order to keep the burgeoning tech hub it’s started, he said. If technology is simply for technology’s sake, whatever product is cheapest will win. But if creativity is applied to technology, a company is then competitive, Dean said.
One of the challenges digital media companies in America face is a growing base of online users speaking languages other than English, said Patrick Bultema, Ortsbo president. In the past, companies have taken advantage of a 300 million-person base speaking one language.
“We have enjoyed decades of leadership, but it’s given us, potentially, some blindsides,” Bultema said. The fastest-growing languages online are Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese and Arabic, and companies must adapt to stay relevant, he said.
Companies have some advantages they never had before, though, said Dan Nord, EA senior director of mobile product management. Data analysis is opening new ways to cater to clients. It creates a big advantage because it allows the company to predict where customers want to go, rather than simply reacting after a game has come out.
“Don’t debate, just test and see where the data takes you,” he said. This way of thinking has allowed companies to use the “freemium” model to roll out things clients most want and use as people are playing, rather than past models where a game would be created and released to the public. As a result, the percentage of iOS revenue from free games has risen from 30 to 80 percent since Jan. 2011 to now.
PushButton Summit is intended to help the growth of digital media in Utah, said Jeff Edwards, EDCUtah president and CEO, in a press release. "The summit has become a key platform for promoting the exceptional digital media businesses and talent that can be found in the Beehive State."
Earlier this year, Business Facilities magazine reported that Utah's digital media industry accounts for 1,500 jobs and $415 million in revenue for the state. The state has a goal to double that by 2016.