In this speakers’ corner the outgoing Managing Director of the e-Estonia Briefing Centre, Liina Maria Lepik, looks back at the history of the Briefing Centre, the work that is carried out daily at the centre and the bigger impact it has.
The e-Estonia Briefing Centre has been working in its new premises and with a new strategy for a year now and this makes it a right time to review where we currently are on our path. Our centre’s activities actually go way back. It started as a private initiative and collaboration by IT companies 11 years ago and was called ICT Demo Centre – a place to introduce e-government solutions and show IT companies’ products.
5 years later the centre was so popular that it needed more resources (space and people) and a fresher concept. The support of our President at the time Toomas Hendrik Ilves and his handwritten plea to our government at a dinner party was the turning point where our centre’s activities were assigned to Enterprise Estonia with state financing and the e-Estonia Showroom was opened in 2014. The bigger and more attractive space allowed to host more delegates and offer better exhibition conditions for companies, also taking the first steps to bring the delegations systematically together with the companies.
Too much of a good thing?
The interest continued to grew every year, so we had to decline more groups due to the high demand and the restrictions from our lack of space, while the companies’ exhibits went out of date. We had been talking about our digital nation for almost 10 years and aiming to change the mindset of people is quite the challenge, so an update was needed. What will be the next level? In 2018 we started to work on our new strategy and preparations to move into an even larger venue. The main conditions for the new strategy were: less talking, more focus on business leads to help implement digitisation and strong content rather than just showing things. The new concept became “We can show you how!” and the name changed into e-Estonia Briefing Centre. Quite the mouthful, but more accurate and not so appealing to tourism groups no longer, which was also the intent. RIP e-Estonia Showroom, now our vision is to be a leading pathfinder of digital transformation and to build quality leads to companies.
So what has changed this year?
Thanks to two presentation halls and our excellent hard working presenters, in 2019 we hosted around 1000 delegations, almost 12 000 people from around 100 different countries – this is an all time record. We have around 60 companies in our portfolio who are not only from the ICT sector, but have experience in building digital services and products for other sectors as well. All of them are represented in our interactive Digital Expo in the centre and we are working on sharing it on our web soon. For the first time we’ve started to ask feedback for the leads we created (around 350 in 2019). Based on the information we have gathered so far, 30% of our leads have follow-up contacts and around 55% of them have potential for a deal.
We target delegations with the intention towards implementation and therefore our focus is on custom made programmes and selecting the right delegations. However, we cannot host the whole world and not all of them can or will make it to Estonia, but we take it as our mission to spread the greatness of our digital society around the world. We’ve made video presentations to share with the world and later this year we will be happy to introduce you to our virtual Briefing Centre – a virtual tour accessible for everybody.
And every Estonian should be our e-nation’s spokesperson and understand the uniqueness of it. This is why we train our fellow citizens and to be honest, quite a lot of them see the almost seamless digital nation as a hygiene factor and do not even know how impressive our e-Estonia is and how much other countries are missing out on. The work we do is very uplifting as we experience people’s reactions first hand – all the wows and “impressive” exclamations are part of our everyday life. We introduce to people a way of living that they weren’t even aware of that they now miss! And on top of that – we are greatly inspired by our e-Estonia, what a great country to live in!
This is where I say goodbye to the marvellous e-Estonia Briefing Centre, knowing that the path we chose has proven to be the correct one and the enthusiastic team leading it will be a suitable pathfinder and partner of digital transformation for many.