Denise Shrivell

Digital People - Gavin Heaton - Servant of Chaos

Welcome to Digital People where we produce a regular profile of great people in our local industry. This time I am thrilled to present - Gavin Heaton, Strategy and Development Manager at global software giant - SAP. Many of you may know him by his 'other' name - The Servant of Chaos where he produces a regular blog for digital marketers (see the link at the base of his profile). He is a regular twitterer - and in his spare time co-authors Age of Conversation where bloggers from all over the world are invited to contribute, at one time, on a range of topics. Gavin shares his experience and gives us insights into how our future media consumption may look and how we as an industry will evolve with this - including his view on where digital media will stand in the coming years (see Question 6) - and, interestingly, how his own habits have changed since the beginning of this year (see Question 11). What brand do you see as doing social media well - Gavin actually gives us a name. Any thoughts before you look? (see Question 8). He also invites Sydneysiders to join him and others in a regular Friday coffee morning (see details in Question 11) Enjoy.........

Gavin HeatonName: Gavin Heaton

Works: SAP

Job Title: Business Strategy and Development

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

I fell into what we loosely called "website development" way back in about 1993. I was working in publishing and saw that things were moving online so I started up my own little business, editing books, designing and publishing websites and doing desktop publishing. From there I ended up at IBM, heading up the product management of their grandly named "community internet publishing solution" and working in the fledgling eBusiness team. A stint in strategic marketing built out my traditional marketing skills with Fujitsu until I went fully digital heading up marketing agency, Creata's interactive team and working on digital strategy and rollout for sites like

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

I work for global software giant, SAP where I do the marketing for one of the global web presences - Learning on Demand by SAP. It combines a traditional, strategic and planned approach to marketing with a dash of social media activation.

I have also been involved in programs designed to reinvigorate the brand and to attract a younger generation of professionals into our partner ecosystem.  That was very interesting. I am also part of a taskforce that is charged with transforming our web properties. This involves lots of late night conference calls.

3.    If you could have any job, what would it be (can be in and/or outside the industry)?

I would write novels and live on Tracey Island.

4.   Can you give us some information about your role at SAP and your alter ego as The Servant of Chaos - What are your aims with both roles?

Both these things feed into each other. At SAP, the marketing and business challenges that we face are on a massive scale. We have an ecosystem that encompasses thousands of customers and partners and millions of connected individuals. Finding ways to engage people on that scale is fascinating. The problem, of course, is that the industry keep shifting - but as marketers, we are averse to trying something new. How can I champion new thinking into the professional sphere? That's where my blog comes in.

My blog has always been a kind of scrapbook for my ideas. I started writing it as a way of keeping track of the interesting ideas I was finding on the web - because I knew that one day I would want to pitch something similar to a client. Unfortunately my earlier efforts were too obscure, so when I returned to the idea, I found its explanation useless. I slowly began to change my writing to explain in more detail what worked, why it worked and how it could be extended. In doing so, this shifted both the content and direction of the blog - it made it more relevant to an audience of marketers, and it really began to grow.

5.   Take a punt on the 'next big thing' in digital?

Two years ago I moved and had to suffer dialup modem access for a couple of months. It changed the way that I viewed the online world. Ease of use and ease of access drives consumption. The national broadband network will transform the digital landscape in ways we cannot yet imagine.

In this way, I think we are still in the early stages of online adoption. Sure we have had "Internet access" for years, but we are only just seeing how that fits within the context of our daily lives. Social networking sites are continuing to grow at an impressive rate (even if the rate of growth has slowed), indicating that the edge has moved to the centre - that social media is becoming more mainstream. It generally takes 6-12 months for new behaviours to emerge, so we are now getting to a point where planning for clever and engaging multi-channel social media experiences can really be successful. So, the next big thing in digital will be ideation and integrated (digital) planning. We'll need some great curators to pull off these transmedia narratives - but I am looking forward to it.

6.    How do you see the digital media industry in the next 5 years? (any forecasts and challenges)

I wouldn't be surprised if the "digital media industry" ceased to exist. I think the idea of "digital" or "technology enabled" communication is a product of the late 20th Century. In five years the smart, motivated and persistent Gen Y folks will be moving into decision-making roles. The silos that currently exist won't be tolerated on the client side, and we will all have to rethink what value we bring to our businesses, employees and consumers. It used to be that "digital" was a business differentiator - it is already starting to be seen as a prerequisite to pitch. In five years time we'll fondly remember the "digital industry" the way that Apple remembers the Newton.

7.     How do you see other media evolving in the next 5 years?

There will necessarily be more blurring. There will be more fragmentation. And we will be using our networks to help us make decisions. So whether this is considered "augmented reality" where the data and knowledge of our networks can be brought to bear on current, lived experience or whether it is the creeping digitisation of all media, one way or the other we will be able to choose, connect and direct our own media consumption experience. Media businesses will need to adjust to this now to be ready.

8.     Can you give us some examples of businesses who are doing social media well?

Red Bull. I love the way they have created their own context for their marketing. With social media, you need to have a story to tell, and a story that others can take part in. Staging their own events reframes the entire conversation around their brand - and it leaves their competitors flailing in the dust.

9.   What does the digital media industry, particularly social media, need to do right now to better position itself in the broader media landscape?

We have to drop the hype. Social media is not the answer to everything. Those who are "in" social media need to look outside their niche and either learn about other channels or partner wisely. It's time to focus on the outcome, not on claiming a piece of the pie.

10.   Where do you get your industry information from?

I read hundreds and hundreds of blogs each week. I scan a large Twitter stream for trends and I selectively focus on those who consistently provide insight, value or entertainment. I stopped seeking news and information at the beginning of the year - it now comes to me thanks to a smart, motivated and articulate network.

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

I am lucky to be part of some great informal networks online which sometimes spill over to physical meetups. We have coffee mornings from 8am each Friday morning in Sydney which are open to anyone who wants to join us at Single Origin in Surry Hills.  You can see further information here. And as co-publisher of the Age of Conversation books, I am part of a global community of leading marketing practitioners.

To see Gavin's Blog - The Servant of Chaos - please go here. 

Thank you - please forward any queries or comments to me - or phone:  0424 100325 - and don't forget to check out my new business, ajmed at our industry, launching in November - MediaScope  Cheers - Denise





Posted by Lucio Ribeiro, 12 October 2009

It's great to see Gavin featured at Digital Ministry. His experience and insights are helping our industry to develop seriously and respectfully.
"Social media is not the answer to everything"
Couldn't agree more Gavin.
Lucio Ribeiro


Denise Shrivell MediaScope Denise Shrivell
Company: MediaScope
Position: Director
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

Latest Articles by Denise

December 3 | Digital People - 2012 Roll Call
October 31 | Digital People - Martin Walsh
October 15 | Digital People - Marc Barnett

Article stats

30 Days: 0 articles, 0 views
All time: 0 articles, 0 views

    Follow me on Twitter



    Resources & services for agencies, marketers, media owners & ad sales professionals - & Aust's most comprehensive multi-channel planning directory with 3,500 media listings.  More info & Contact Details



    NSW Public Sector Grades 9-10 High Performance and Leadership Workshop NSW Public Sector Grades 9-10 High Performance and Leadership Workshop

    Develop and refine core skills and key leadership capability to achieve success and excel in NSW Grade 9-10 level roles and beyond.

    WA Public Sector Level 7-8 High Performance & Leadership Workshop WA Public Sector Level 7-8 High Performance & Leadership Workshop

    Develop and refine core skills and key leadership capability to achieve success and excel in Western Australian 7 - 8 level roles and beyond.

    Public Sector Workforce Analytics Workshop Public Sector Workforce Analytics Workshop

    Emerging tools and frameworks to enable best practice workforce analytics and planning for HR Professionals.

    AO 7-8 High Performance and Leadership Workshop AO 7-8 High Performance and Leadership Workshop

    Develop and refine core skills and key leadership capability to achieve success and excel in AO 7-8 level roles and beyond.

    South Australia Women in Leadership Workshop South Australia Women in Leadership Workshop

    An engaging learning and networking workshop to enhance your effectiveness as a leader in an evolving professional landscape.


    Q Limited Q Limited

    Q Ltd owns a group of specialist interactive advertising and digital marketing communication companies that help businesses identify, target and communicate effectively with their target market.

    With Imagination With Imagination

    Providing Strategic Web Solutions. We specialise in website design and website development, web applications and a range of e-marketing services.

    Moon Communications Group Moon Communications Group

    Moon creates powerful brand and retail experiences for the new consumer landscape.

    Reactive Reactive

    Reactive is an award-winning digital agency that provides digital strategy, user experience, web design and development services, offering creative excellence and technical innovation in the online space.


    Full service digital agency with the creative firepower and technical know-how to handle any digital project.


    LATEST DIRECTORY LISTINGS Boost SEO - add your company for free

    Mad Dog PromotionsProtonbits Software Pvt LtdCat Rubbish RemovalEnertec Windows & Door SystemsVacuumSpotSally Dasouki - Melbourne Victoria, AustraliaVazooky DigitalDr TurnerAspect Shade