Denise Shrivell

Digital People - Oliver Palmer & Luke Janssen

Welcome to Digital People where we present regular profiles of people in our industry. This time a double act, Luke Janssen and Oliver Palmer, founders and main guys of highly successful mobile media business - TigerSpike. They outline an impressive journey, starting in 2003 from Oliver's sunroom in Pyrmont, their current market position with offices in Sydney, London, Auckland, and New York (not in Pyrmont anymore, Toto) and their forward plans. They offer us an insight into how they maintain their market leading position through a firm focus on innovation and applying platforms to fit with the cultural and technical fit of each market - it is not a case of one size fits all. They also discuss some fascinating innovations we can expect in our not too distant future as the mobile generation enters the workforce.

For those who need an update on this part of the market in Australia, I have linked to the latest AIMIA mobile report at the base of this profile. Could 2010 finally be the long awaited year of the mobile?  Luke and Oliver seem to think so - with the launch of products such as the iPad and continued strong growth in all forms of mobile usage it is certainly looking likely.  And, as they point out - it is the Chinese Year of the 'Tiger'......

Name: Luke Janssen & Oliver Palmer

Works: TigerSpike

Job Title: CEO, and Head of Innovation

1.  How, where and when did the digital industry find you?

I (Luke Janssen) used to work for KPMG's information risk management department (essentially IT consulting) for the Information, Communication, and Entertainment service line in London and then Sydney, so many of my clients were in the media and publishing industry. It wasn't until I quit KPMG (in 2003) and Oliver and I set up TigerSpike that I got into the industry with both feet.

Oliver had been working for a start-up dot com company and the transition from web to mobile seemed a natural progression in early 2002 / 2003. TigerSpike's focus right from the start was on rich media on mobile devices and from those early days, it has maintained it s forward thinking approach to the mobile and digital industry as a whole.

2.  What is your current role and what do you actually do?

I am the CEO of TigerSpike globally and run the USA business from New York along with Alex Hall who is Head of global strategic relationships. Oliver Palmer is based in Sydney and supports the Australian business as well as driving the innovation side of the business. Put simply, Olly comes up with innovative digital solutions in Sydney and we sell them in Asia, Europe and the USA, with me focusing mostly on the USA market.

On a day to day basis I (Oliver) focus on understanding where each market is at, and what new and innovative products might be applicable to each location. A lot of innovation, particularly in mobile, comes out of Asia and I spend a lot of time in Singapore and Hong Kong, attending ICT conferences and trade missions to those regions. Understanding the cultural nuances and intricate relationship between technology and culture is critical in ensuring that the technologies we bring to our clients are relevant and applicable to those markets.

3.  Can you give us some insights into TigerSpike, how you started, your market position and your forward plans?

We started as a mobile technology company in 2003, and are now the worlds leading personal media business. Initially Oliver and I set up the company in his sunroom in Pyrmont. Dean Jezard came on board soon after and started to build what is now our Service Delivery Platform, Phoenix. Our intimate understanding of mobile has given us an edge as the boundaries between desktops, laptops and portable devices has blurred. Understanding how to deliver personal communications and marketing initiatives to consumers regardless of the device they are using, and most importantly optimising the experience across all those devices, has meant that TigerSpike has become the partner of choice for a variety of blue chip companies.

4.  What trends do you think the digital & mobile industry will see in the next 12 months?

Advancing technology is still the driving force behind advances in the digital and mobile industry, new devices such as the iPad and the gPad are capturing consumers imagination. As these technologies become standard, the applications that sit on the layer above the device will start to take centre stage. Today it is not enough simply to have a cool phone like the iPhone, you have to show off the applications you have downloaded. It is the same in the marketing and communications industry, just because you can build applications for these devices doesn't mean you should! You have to understand in detail how consumers interact with, share and fall in love with applications and services that sit on top of the devices that are becoming the norm in everyday life.

5.  How do you see the digital, mobile and other media evolving in the next 5 years?

The further you go into the future the more interesting and fantastical it can get. Mobiles are already being incorporated into clothing and other trends such as advancement in speech and even thought recognition will mean that one day we will have mobile enabled telepathy and head up displays on glasses or contact lenses.

Furthermore, over the next 5 years the first "mobile" generation (people who have never experienced a world without mobile phones) will enter the work force, start delivering ideas, building companies and developing applications. This will herald a range of new services that are as revolutionary as web 2.0 style innovations such as Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare are today. Our focus on innovation and cutting technology as well as R&D partnerships with Universities, internship programs and employment practices will be instrumental in ensuring that we are able to continue to stay at the forefront of technology and deliver amazing services for our partners and clients.

6.  What does the digital & mobile industry need to do better, right now, to position itself in the broader media landscape?

It needs to stop doing gimmicky things that don't work, and start doing the right things that do. For example, and particularly in the USA, there are many venture funded companies who are trying to push an obscure piece of technology without thinking of what people are actually using. Clients are buying from overpaid sales people and doing the wrong things. Augmented reality for example is something that we are working with on in the Innovation Lab, but for many clients, and especially agencies, the driver seems to be "we want to do something cool that no one has done before!",  instead of ‘will this actually solve any problems and add value to the client'.  It's ok to do things that no one has done before, but that is not a reason in itself. Augmented reality is a fascinating technology that can enhance a range of media applications; however it is not the be all and end all of each and every marketing application.

In much the same way that the online advertising industry is grappling with issues around measurement, the mobile industry has to establish clear and easily understood metrics around consumer engagement. Only then will media buying companies take mobile seriously and start allocating significant budgets to drive traffic to mobile executions.

7.  Is 2010 the year of the mobile - and what has taken so long?

Every year since 2003 has been the year of mobile so its no surprise that 2010 will be too!

What is different this year is the iPhone, which is head and shoulders above the competition and makes mobile browsing so easy, that people who have never browsed the mobile web before are now. The iPod as really lit a fire under mobile which is why 2010 really IS the year of the mobile.

It is also the (Chinese) year of the Tiger. J

8.  Where do you get your industry information from?

We have campaigns running all over the world and because everything we do is linked to our Phoenix platform, we have a great picture of mobile behaviour from all of our campaigns running all over the world on everything from iPhones, all other mobile devices, web, etc... At the moment we use this information internally within our Innovation Lab to gain insights that we then apply clients.

In addition to blogs and market specific publications Oliver is an active member of the Twitter community in the Australian digital industry, follow @oliverpalmer for an insight in to a range of industry events and opinions.

9. What industry groups or networks are you a part of?

Here in Australia, we are active participants in MIG (Mobile Industry Group) and sit on the ADMA Digital Council. We are also alumni's of the ATS (Australian Technology Showcase) and have been working with AusTrade from very early in our history. TigerSpike also operates its own incubator program, helping early stage start ups and entrepreneurs develop their ideas to commercial reality, recently we have been mentoring participants in MEGA (Mobile Enterprise and Government Alliance). TigerSpike also actively supports Mobile Mondays and a range of other industry focused events.

Nic Newman our Managing Director of Europe and Head of Strategy sits on the board of the MMA in Europe and each TigerSpike office is actively involved in promoting the industry as a whole in each location.

Thanks for your interest in Digital People.  Know someone you would like to see profiled?  Please get in touch - denise@mediascope.com.au or Phone:  0424 100325  and don't forget to check out my start-up - MediaScope - a directory connecting advertising buyers and sellers with a focus beyond mainstream media.  (there are categories for mobile media and advertising opportunities)

For an update on mobile usage, the advertising and commercial market in Australia, please see the most recent AIMIA mobile report here


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Founder of MediaScope - Australia's most up-to-date & evolving directory resource connecting agencies & marketers to more than 3,000 niche, alternative & emerging media options Read Denise's full bio

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