I was recently recognized by OnConfrences as a 2020 Top 50 Global Marketer Award winner. It’s always a great honor to be recognized, especially when the award is determined 100% by your peers. This award originally had hundreds of nominees from across the globe.
In addition to picking up the award, I had the opportunity to also present a number of awards and had the opportunity to share a short story about success which I will post below.
The single most important driver of success in my career has been developing and maintaining a personal brand while in parallel delivering results for the brands I worked for.
I started writing point of view pieces about new and emerging technology, pop culture, gaming, and strategy back in 2007. Now 500+ posts later this helped to propel me as a paid speaker and opened up a number of new opportunities.
The content you create follows you from role to role, it serves as a demonstration for how you think to prospective clients and it also leads to awards. I was on this very stage last year picking up the OnCon Marketing Trailblazer and OnCon Marketing Contributor awards thanks in large part to contributions to the industry through writing.
I would highly recommend that those of you who mentor up and coming employees, that you empower them to develop a POV, allow them to flex their strategic and problem-solving skills and don’t be afraid to allow them to develop their personal brands.
This is how you can go from an employer to a true mentor. And it’s incredibly satisfying to see those that you invest in find their own success.
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with EDgage Magazine to discuss emerging technology trends tied to the technology landscape today, how technology will evolve, the role of gaming and esports, tech impact on higher education, marketing and the future of technology, and 2020 trends.
Give us a snapshot of the technology landscape today (as it relates to marketing).
(Tom Edwards) We live in an amazing time. Technology is culture and culture is technology. So much of the focus the past few years has been about real-time, contextual and personalization at scale. Data’s role in driving decisioning, especially leveraging machine learning to derive themes, perceptions, and occasions, is revolutionizing how we derive affinity and intent signals from consumers. We can now return in time and process millions of conversations to understand unbiased consumer behavior and have the ability to align that with evolving consumer experiences.
Technology and experience will continue to evolve. Technology will expand the boundaries of higher education.
(TE) The other major shift is we are quickly moving from desktop and mobile-centric experiences toward multi-modal at scale. This includes voice, vision, and touch. The rise and adoption of virtual assistants, advancements in computer vision and democratization of augmented reality experiences, and the rise of gesture-based experiences make it a great time to be a consumer and marketer.
How will technology continue to impact the higher ed space?
(TE) Technology and experience will continue to evolve. I used to talk about how disruption was the new normal, and how a single technology could have a transformational impact. Now, it’s less about disruption and more about exponential acceleration through intelligent systems. Technology will expand the boundaries of higher education. With the rollout of 5G connectivity across campuses, we will see responsive and immersive augmented reality, high quality streaming for on-demand and live casting of classes, 5G-enabled edge computing/analytics to optimize the on-campus experience, and making IoT more accessible to close the gap between context and awareness.
What role will technologies like AI continue to have on today’s campuses and universities?
(TE) AI will have a significant impact moving forward—from organizational efficiency, enhancing student experiences and redefining coursework, to shift toward critical thinking in support of intelligence augmentation.
Universities can leverage AI to streamline the admissions process, quickly access the sentiment and areas of interest of their student and faculty population, use AI to drive fundraising and create personalized experiences for alumni.
AI will also enhance students’ capabilities to learn—from leveraging visual search and computer vision-enabled experiences to shifting coursework to focus more on critical and strategic thinking and using data and analytics to fuel experiences.
What are things higher ed marketers should think about when it comes to technology?
(TE) I’ve been involved with higher education at varying levels for the past 15 years. I have instructed thousands of students, and most recently lectured at SMU in Dallas. I am also a part of its Big Data advisory council.
For me, it is an evolution of the traditional 4P’s of marketing. Since the ’60s, it has been about product, price, place, and promotion. With the rise of intelligent systems, it is less about the traditional 4P’s and more about the new 4P’s: Plan, Predictive, Proxy and Pervasive.
Plan is having a plan for the use and data: how it is captured, structured, cleansed, analyzed and fed into intelligent systems, as data is oil for AI. Predictive is leveraging data and machine learning to drive predictive decisioning. Proxy is all about virtual assistants becoming personal proxies for individuals. The data plus predictive decisioning capability combined with virtual proxies will give rise to the proxy web where our virtual assistants represent our preferences and interface with other proxies. Finally, pervasive is about designing for multi-modal interfaces at a time when the mobile device will no longer be our primary device but our environment adapts to us.
What should every higher ed professional know about technology?
(TE) Understand that behaviors and expectations of students is evolving. Students are empowered to control experiences. Accessibility has led to ubiquity and Gen Z and Generation Alpha are quickly shifting traditional behaviors.
From expectations of on-demand content, gaming, and eSports to expectations tied to immersive and low-lag experiences. Universities have to evolve their infrastructure toward a 5G future and higher ed professionals will need to rethink curriculum toward data, analytics, and multi-modal experiences.
What kind of trends should they be looking at heading into 2020?
(TE) In 2020, we will continue to see virtual assistants shift toward the center of the operating system. With the rollout of 5G connectivity, we will see a path toward simulation through low latency augmented reality at scale.
We will continue to see the camera used as a bridge to intelligence through a combination of computer vision and virtual assistants and we will continue to see the rise of the proxy web where virtual assistants continue to evolve to the point where we are no longer marketing just to consumers, but also to algorithms and intelligent systems.
Finally, we will continue to see AI-enhanced digital avatars become more mainstream. First in the form of customer support and slowly expanding to more use cases by industry.
Today at 2 PM eastern one of the largest gatherings of concurrent gamers witnessed an in-game event from a galaxy far far away that may redefine the future of multimedia marketing.
Fortnite and the Star Wars team promoting The Rise of Skywalker collaborated to deliver massive in-game event featuring JJ Abrams and a clip from the upcoming movie.
Fortnite is looking to redefine multimedia experiences and offering brand collaborations at an audience scale we have never seen.
With tens of millions of players connected in-game and millions more watching the live event unfold (2.2M on YouTube, 1.1M on Twitch), not only did we get to see a clip from the movie but also interact directly with the content to shift the experience from passive to active. The engagement and excitement were through the roof!
After logging into a queue, players were instructed to go to Risky Reels (An in-game location) and prepare for the show. There was a live countdown.
The day was teased during the recent 2019 Game Awards. Players received a free in-game glider and were promised something that had never been done before in the history of in-game marketing.
After the countdown, The Millenium Falcon flew around and landed and out popped our host Geoff Keighley along with The Rise of Skywalker director, JJ Abrams.
Next came the interactive quizzes predicting what we were about to see.
Finally, an actual clip from The Rise of Skywalker IN-GAME!
The event ended with lightsabers and blaster rifles now being available to all players in the game.
This was an absolutely brilliant move by Star Wars to create buzz and awareness pre-film. Previously, in February 2019, EDM superstar Marshmello performed an in-game concert for ten million concurrent users. This dwarfs what’s possible from a reach perspective for live events and opened the door for others such as Star Wars to build upon the success of that in-game event.
Expect more opportunities for brands to connect directly with a highly coveted audience beyond only sponsoring an esports event. This event included creating value for the players by providing free in-game content to enhance the experience, as well as access to unique content that can only be seen through the Fortnite experience.
Fortnite and other games are looking to redefine awareness and engagement, and those looking to capitalize should start looking to those in the know such as gaming/marketing agency TripleClix. Chris Erb, founder of TripleClix, and I discuss how to create marketing value via gaming during Episode 1 of the TripleClix podcast.
I have the pleasure of working with the Futurithmic team to write a number of articles discussing the future of 5G and it’s potential impact on entertainment.
Thanks to everyone that interacted with the post on LinkedIn as it’s been trending in #5G today.
This is the first in a series and a repost from Futurithmic… Here is a link to the full article.
This article is the first in a series that will explore the role of 5G and its potential impact on various forms of entertainment.
For consumers, 5G will bring improved stability and portability of experiences – faster download and data streaming of high-resolution video, lower latency response times for augmented reality experiences, and the ability to experience highly immersive events. It will be possible to seamlessly watch and interact with live events with friends from anywhere in the world.
Today, live entertainment experiences are designed around being physically present at an event. A lot goes into the delivery of live entertainment, from sporting events to concerts, and a majority of these experiences are designed for fans at the venue. But 5G will represent a monumental shift in how we watch and interact with live entertainment in the coming years. With speeds up to 20 times faster than 4G, 5G may revolutionize the game-day experience, seamlessly connecting the in-stadium experience with your location of choice anywhere in the world.
Last year in the U.S., almost 437 billion minutes were spent watching the NFL and college football. That’s nearly 2 billion minutes a day. And when combined with events such as the Super Bowl and the 2018 Winter Olympics, that number doubles. The draw of live sporting events represents an opportunity to enhance experiences from passive viewing of linear live experiences to enhanced viewing through 5G-enabled devices.
5G will represent a monumental shift in how we watch and interact with live entertainment in the coming years.
5G enhanced sports
From life-size digital versions of star players to live stats overlaid onto the field of play, 5G will allow for low-latency enhanced experiences that provide control to the end consumer to completely customize their game-day experience in any way they like.
For example, they could control concurrent video streams of the action through their mobile devices in a stadium. They may even customize virtual reality experiences, in which their eyes control contextual hotspots from within the device to change camera angles, similar to experiences delivered through Fox Sports.
We also saw examples of immersive live entertainment at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea, with in-stadium augmented reality experiences. We can expect even more enhanced experiences with the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, as there are plans to deliver 8K enhanced video streams.
Being a fan of the Oklahoma Sooners, I jumped at the chance to watch a game via virtual reality. The ability to control the viewing angles and enjoy enhanced digital overlays made for a unique and compelling viewing experience. Imagine if this was enhanced via 5G, allowing for even lower latency and co-viewing opportunities?
Major sports leagues and teams have already partnered with Verizon to enhance the in-stadium experience via 5G. The NFL and Verizon are working with 13 stadiums across the U.S. for the 2019-2020 football season, focusing on seated areas and select spots in and around the stadiums.
The NBA and NHL have also partnered with Verizon to enhance their live experiences. NBA teams like the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche have all embraced 5G solutions. Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, is also rolling out 5G experiences to support both live sporting events and concerts.
Leagues and venues are focused on creating compelling and enhanced experiences. This is critical as traditional viewership shifts towards more interactive mediums, such as gaming and over-the-top services.
Larger-than-life concert experiences
Concerts are another form of live entertainment that can benefit from 5G enhanced connectivity. Lower-latency response times combined with mobile edge computing can revolutionize the use of open-air holograms, projection and object-mapping technologies to create larger-than-life experiences that bend the rules of reality.
But it’s not just live concerts that can be enhanced via 5G technology. The ability to sell “virtual tickets” to attend stage side, control camera angles, enjoy behind-the-scenes interviews with band members and more could form new revenue streams for artists.
An example of a virtual concert that could be enhanced by 5G is the recent collaboration between EDM superstar Marshmello and Epic Games, the creator of the wildly popular Fortnite video game. Recently, Marshmello held a virtual concert that more than 10 million people attended virtually, in-game. A 5G-enhanced connection combined with cloud gaming services could increase that number exponentially when players are untethered from their consoles and PCs.
Over-the-top content providers and solutions have gone from add-ons to traditional cable to the flavor of choice for many Americans. With the commercialization of 5G, the consumer will have even more control over how they view their favorite programs, including live television events such as sporting events.
Over-the-top providers like YouTube TV have been experimenting with augmented reality enhanced overlays and advertising, such as YouTube TV’s recent collaboration with Major League Baseball and the World Series. Now with multi-access edge computing, data processing power at the edge of mobile networks, plus lower latency, we will see an increased throughput of streaming media and (OTT) services.
There is a correlation between the device screen size and the amount of time spent streaming.
5G over-the-top media consumption will also have an impact on device form factors. At CES 2019, I saw several foldable phone form factors. Why would you need a foldable phone, you ask? Consumption behaviors are directly tied to screen size. There is a correlation between the device screen size and the amount of time spent streaming. More bandwidth, combined with faster download times and more options to consume and interact with live content, means that enhanced OTT services will become the new normal. Consumers might enjoy having the choice of a compact screen that can unfold to a larger screen size.
The commercialization of 5G technology combined with mobile edge computing and the democratization of enhanced reality technology (augmented and virtual reality) will not only impact how we work, but it will also have a significant impact on how we spend our free time.
In future installments of this series, we will explore 5G’s ability to enhance entertainment and the idea of ambient entertainment.
Futurithmic – ( Podcast Interview) – Experiential Computing, 5G, AI & more. Tech titan Tom Edwards of BlackFin360 talks about how the blurring of the lines between technology and culture is only going to grow as AI, AR, and 5G become embedded in our physical spaces to replace our smartphones.
Connecting the dots of the technology of today with the future of tomorrow. Here are the timestamps for key topics discussed.
1:38 – Tech Titan Advocacy Award 2:01 – Experience Driven Culture 2:55 – Shift Towards Multi-modal & Enhancing Mobility 4:05 – Ambient Computing 4:50 – GenZs Impact on Emerging Technology 5:50 – Expectations of Technology & Adoption of AI 8:05 – Virtual Assistant as a Preference Center, Rise of the Proxy Web 10:15 – Consumer Choice vs. Ease & Convenience 11:30 – Smart Glasses Adoption 13:00 – Benefits of 5G Connectivity 15:15 – Use cases for combining 5G + AI + AR = Proxy Twin Hypothesis 17:45 – Volumetric Capture 19:40 – 5G & Artificial Intelligence = Edge Computing & Edge Analytics 23:40 – 3 Types of AI 24:30 – Intelligence Augmentation & Predictive Decisioning 26:30 – The Future… Privacy, Presence, Commerce, Enhancing Experiences 29:15 – Gaming, Esports, & Technology Adoption, Interaction Economy
I had the opportunity to provide a keynote on tech innovation for the 2019 Path to Purchase Expo in Chicago yesterday. It was a great crowd, high energy, and with a 30-minute timeslot, we had to cover a lot of ground!
The focus of the talk was discussing the coming waves of technology and how that will impact consumer behavior along the path to purchase. This is the latest version of the InnovationToReality talk series covering all facets of consumer behavior and emerging technology.
We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies, & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior will shift in the near future. We also discussed:
the role of esports
the camera as a bridge to intelligence
the role of virtual assistants and commerce
the rise of the proxy web
the 5 levels of autonomy
how the new 4P’s will enhance future strategy
the role and importance of 5G in the transition towards ubiquitous simulation.
I recently had the opportunity to partner with Nokia to cover Mobile World Congress 2019. From highlighting key elements of their brand messaging around 5G, amplifying content from analyst meetings to on-camera work on the show floor. I really enjoyed partnering with Nokia.
Today, my full #MWC19 recap was posted on Futurithmic.com the recap views trends from MWC through the Innovation to Reality™ lens of Empower, Exponential, and Enhanced. The article covers all facets of experience and 5G. From Devices, AI, Gaming, Live Entertainment, and so much more. You can read the full article here.
I was also engaged as a technology influencer to create cross channel social content, highlight Nokia & their 5G efforts during a recent keynote, as well as on-camera work during #MWC19. When it’s all said and done the content should drive north of 100,000 highly targeted views that will have boosted Nokia’s message during a very crowded MWC19.
Thanks again to Marianne and the entire @Nokia team.
I recently had the opportunity to provide the opening keynote for the Dallas Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association discussing trends tied to evolving consumer experiences. This is the latest version of the InnovationToReality talk series covering all facets of consumer behavior and emerging technology.
It was a fun and highly interactive keynote session! We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies, & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior will shift in the near future. We talked about how the 5 levels of autonomy and the new 4P’s will impact industry 4.0. Finally, the role and importance of 5G in the transition towards ubiquitous simulation.
I recently had the opportunity to provide the opening keynote for the University of Alabama EMBA Alumni Network Summit discussing trends tied to Industry 4.0. This is the latest version of the InnovationToReality talk series covering all facets of consumer behavior and emerging technology.
It was a fun and highly interactive keynote session! We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies, & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior will shift in the near future. We talked about how the 5 levels of autonomy and the new 4P’s will impact industry 4.0. Finally the role and importance of 5G in the transition towards ubiquitous simulation.
I recently had the privilege of joining the BIGHR 2019 conference to discuss all facets of AI, digital transformation, intelligence augmentation, tips for integrating AI, and preparing the HR function for the coming culture shift.
Last night my wife and I attended the 2019 Tech Titans Awards Gala. I was a finalist for the Technology Advocate award. This award recognizes a technology advocate/champion for their outstanding leadership in assisting, advancing or accelerating the performance of technology companies and/or the technology community.
It was a really fun night. The Tech Titans awards are like the Oscars for the Dallas technology community. After settling into a delicious dinner and some fun commentary from the Gala committee it was time for the awards presentations to start.
When my category was up for the next presentation the head of North American Customer Marketing & Communications for Nokia, Marianne Strobel did a great job setting up the category and announcing the winner…
After the initial shock of the win, it was time for photos, a great conversation with Marianne of Nokia about their 5G work and more innovations on the way, networking with sponsors and attendees and fun times with my wife Cherlyn from chomping M&M’s pre-event to celebrating post-event Texas-style with Whataburger.
I recently provided commentary to Advertising Age discussing the recent shift in naming convention for Google’s operating system from dessert-themed names to a more traditional numbering system as well as commentary on the new Google Android branding.
Tom Edwards, chief innovation officer at agency Epsilon, says that “although the dessert names and the subsequent tie-ins to different snack brands was charming, it was difficult for consumers to track changes from one version to the next.” He adds: “Moving to a number-based system gives visual cues on the current version while also building urgency to upgrade.”
I was recently interviewed by the Dallas Business Journal for the upcoming 2019 Tech Titans awards show. I am a finalist in the technology advocate category and looking forward to the event! Here is a link to the full interview.
Tom Edwards of BlackFin360 is a finalist in the Technology Advocate Award category for the 2019 Tech Titan Awards. Category winners will be announced at an awards event on Friday, Aug. 23. For more information about the awards event, click here.
As founder of BlackFin360, which covers marketing and emerging tech trends, Tom Edwards has been recognized as a marketing technology trailblazer as well as a leading futurist and speaker.
“I focus on helping organizations understand how consumer behavior is shaping emerging technology and vice versa as technology is culture and culture is technology,” Edwards said.
What started as a technology blog back in 2007 BlackFin360 now serves as a “a repository of emerging technology” thought leadership. As a keynote speaker and technology advocate, Edwards says he helps organizations understand the connection between consumer behavior and emerging technology — from the integration of artificial intelligence, spatial computing and the rise of multi-modal interfaces.
Edwards was also Chief Digital/Innovation Officer for Epsilon where he said he “became fully immersed in all facets of data, AI and technology integration.”
We asked Edwards additional questions about technology. The questions have been edited for length, grammar and clarity.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organization in 2019?
TOM – The biggest challenge is less about my organization and what I see across the Fortune 1000 organizations that I have the opportunity to speak to. There are three primary areas that I consistently see. They are: data puddles, ignoring AI, lack of innovation focus.
Data puddles refers to a comment I heard at one of the world’s largest consumer beverage companies. Most organizations strive for data lakes and data is key to unlocking personalization and connecting with consumers. The reality is most organizations don’t have a consolidated approach to leveraging various forms of data, be it consumer centric data of culture, data of identity and data of intent. Having a strategy for how to consolidate and action data vs. simply collecting is key.
The second challenge is the lack of preparation and consideration of the impact of artificial intelligence on the workplace. This goes beyond system integration, and has to do with impact on culture and how to build a culture around the idea of intelligence augmentation vs. disruption.
The third is a lack of aligning innovation initiatives with core goals of the organization. It’s incredibly important to not just focus on short term revenue, but also generating ideas and empowering the organization to bring innovative ideas forward.
What is something people aren’t thinking about that will change technology in the next few years?
TOM – To me the biggest shift, especially for marketers is that we will be moving from consumer-centric marketing technology to system and algorithm-based solutions. We will see virtual assistants continue to move to the center of the operating system and we will see the rise of multi-modal computing at scale. This includes voice, vision and touch, where our environment adapts to us versus us adapting to it.
Can you recall the moment you decided what you wanted to do professionally?
TOM – My first memory is of the original Star Wars movie. All of my friends wanted to be Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. I liked those characters, but I was enamored with the droids R2-D2 and C3PO and how they and the rest of the sentient tech characters seemed to enable the main cast every step of the way. The technology seamlessly folded into their everyday journeys and that stuck with me all throughout childhood and into early adulthood. When the technology revolution hit with the rise of personal computers, mobile phones and software, I knew that is where I wanted to take my career.
Who is your technology hero?
TOM – My technology hero is Hal Brierley. Hal is the CEO of the Brierley Group. He has served as President and CEO of Epsilon, was the founder of e-Rewards, Inc, and the Executive Chairman of Brierley & Partners and he currently serves on the board of an AI start-up (Oculus360) that has been an outstanding strategic partner. I admire that work and career of Hal, his impact to Dallas via job creation and his approach to business is something to be admired.
What should we be teaching children about technology in school right now that we aren’t?
TOM – The future is going to be about augmented intelligence and preparing children, not just how to code, but also how to use various aspects of machine learning to solve problems. Instead of teaching simple math, it’s important to understand specific computing models and concepts for how systems learn. Now, these are reserved for Computer Science courses on the college level, but the sooner we can prepare children for the coming shift of intelligent systems the better.
I have worked closely with Amazon associates across various business units for well over a decade. One of the core aspects that has been consistent is how Amazon employees embody the 14 Amazon Leadership principles.
These 14 principles are also key when Amazon evaluates prospective employees. These principles are not just applicable to Amazon, they are great reminders for teams and organizations to re-center thought and focus towards being customer-centric, having a bias for action, innovation, growing talent and so much more.
Below are the 14 Amazon leadership principles and how I have personally applied the principles in my own career.
1) CUSTOMER OBSESSION – Leaders start with the customer and work backward. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
TOM: Every organization talks about being customer-centric, but there is a difference between having a vision of customer centricity and instilling customer obsession through teams. When business is lost it comes down to a few key factors. Poor execution, poor communication and focus on self vs. client’s business. This goes beyond simply focusing on the relationship.
You have to deliver and in today’s environment that includes living and breathing your customers business. This includes tracking quarterly earnings, proactively analyzing trends in the marketplace, conducting primary research, leveraging tools and solutions such as machine learning industry domains to track shifts and changes over time, predictive models to project zero spend impact models and a constant focus on how to future-proof their business while delivering the expected returns for today.
Customer obsession is a great way to think about it whether your customer is an internal stakeholder or the CMO of a Fortune 100 corporation.
2. OWNERSHIP – Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond their own team. They never say “that’s not my job”
TOM: I have worked across multiple holding companies, consulted with some of the world’s largest brands, developed products and had ownership of various organizational functions and teams. The one thing that has always been consistent is working to be a “value-add” across the organization, not just within a single team or department. Being a good citizen pays off in the long run as you are able to build support for cross-departmental initiatives.
So many organizations that I have consulted with over the years were focused on short term goals and returns. Looking back, those organizations that did not adopt a roadmap for the future nor did they take steps to future proof their business. Those organizations are struggling or no longer in business today. Ownership includes not sacrificing long-term value or opportunity for short-term gains.
3. INVENT & SIMPLIFY – Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here”. As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
TOM: This has been the lifeblood of my career in the interactive space. The one constant has been change and having the ability to create first of its kind use cases for the application of technology is critical to keep pace with exponential change.
This is what started my passion and desire to become a futurist and solution evangelist. Predicting how technology was going to evolve, the triggers and signals gleaned from consumer behavior and having the entrepreneurial ability to actually build and deliver new solutions as well as seamlessly integrate new and emerging technologies into highly linear organizations has been a key success driver.
4 – ARE RIGHT, A LOT – Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs
TOM: The challenge I consistently put forward to my strategy and creative technology teams is to build a strong POV and then a month or so later completely deconstruct it. The pace of technology and experiences shifts so quickly, it’s less about disruption and more about exponential acceleration, so having the ability to make a call based on deterministic and sometimes probabilistic data, then evaluating and changing course is key. You have to be able to completely deconstruct your views and refine them based on market and situational indicators.
5 – LEARN & BE CURIOUS – Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.
TOM: As a keynote speaker I cover emerging technology and consumer behavior on a regular basis. I am always looking for patterns for how experiences will evolve. This requires constant learning and curiosity and this is a passion area of mine.
I am constantly reading, tracking industry discussions, looking at developer documentation, following the release of new patents, and attending developer conferences so I can get a first glimpse at potential new use cases.
This is also the #1 trait I look for in prospective employees. It’s a continual desire to discover, learn and solve problems that may not exist yet.
6 – HIRE & DEVELOP THE BEST TALENT – Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.
TOM: Talent is everything and I look for certain characteristics in individuals that are consistent and foundational. This includes individuals who exhibit an entrepreneurial mindset, are naturally inquisitive, constantly learning, have the ability to “connect the dots”, formulate a point of view and are really good presenters.
Some of the best hires I have had over the years were individuals I met while speaking on panels or industry events. I lean towards original content creators and those that go above and beyond their day job. I look for those who have the ability to articulate a point of view, are strong presenters yet humble in their approach and focused on solving problems that may or may not exist yet.
It’s not just about sharing links about technology or trends, curation is only part of the equation. It’s having the ability to craft a unique point of view. Natural curiosity is very important to me. I look for these attributes in potential hires has led to individuals from incredibly diverse backgrounds but there is a consistency in their abilities to be strategic, autonomous and incredibly high performers. This led to recruiting some of the best talent in the industry as well as serve on multiple tours of duty with high performing team members such as Ian Beacraft,Mike Zeto, Courtney Caldwell, Candice Gilzean and countless others.
7 – INSIST ON THE HIGHEST STANDARDS – Leaders have relentlessly high standards – many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and drive their teams to deliver high quality products, services, and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.
TOM: My approach is to set a vision for my teams, empower them, enable them but also hold them accountable to agreed-upon MBOs. It’s important to have a team vision and mission that aligns to the broader organization and then deploy a team of team’s approach to scale across the organization.
This ensures that the teams are adaptable, stay in close communication and are empowered to make key decisions and solve problems without the typical command and control model. This also builds mutual respect and trust within the team as everyone has a key role, is empowered to make decisions and works together to accomplish cross-departmental goals.
8 – THINK BIG – Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.
TOM: I am a futurist in my spare time. This requires thinking bigger on a regular basis to piece together how we will shift from mobile-first to multi-modal interfaces at scale. This includes making foundational statements such as the shift of the virtual assistant to the center of the operating system, the role simulation and data will play and helping organizations to future proof their business while meeting the business objectives of today. This is the basis for my Innovation to Reality speaking platform.
From a business perspective, part of my role over the years has focused on aligning bigger thinking with clients to go beyond the short term and discuss challenges on the horizon and how to future proof their business.
This includes the potential impact of artificial intelligence and the need to not only prepare for shifts in modernizing systems but also the impact on culture and how to build towards intelligence augmentation.
This will be one of the biggest areas of disruption over the next few years as the workplace will drastically shift based on intelligent systems and those organizations that can capitalize on integrating technology, align data assets to fuel systems and prepare their workforce for intelligence augmentation vs. disruption will be the organizations that either maintain a leadership position or challengers will leapfrog established organizations.
9 – BIAS for ACTION – Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
TOM: Balancing action vs. analysis is critical in today’s rapidly evolving environment. It’s important to place strategic bets while still maintaining the focus and hitting short term goals. I use the 70/20/10 approach to bias for action.
70% is focused on the core aspects of driving the business or campaigns and is 100% measurable. 20% is emerging but a bit less quantifiable yet needs to be explored for possible new opportunities and 10% should be solely based on emerging solutions based on trends and affinity signals from consumers.
Finding early-stage start-ups and having an established ecosystem across solution types is critical to reducing time to analyze and moving to action. If you already have the eco-system, it’s easier to activate.
What I have seen over the past few years is a lot of talk about the importance of AI, evolving experiences and the need for innovation. The reality is there is a hesitancy to actively take steps to ensure that the business is preparing in parallel for short term and long term success. There is a bias towards data curation vs. analysis and action. This is going to cause major issues for organizations that will not be prepared for the major shifts that are coming.
10 – FRUGALITY – Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.
TOM: This is where I value individuals with entrepreneurial backgrounds who are used to wearing multiple hats and have a feeling of ownership towards the business. This allows the unit to operate lean yet go above and beyond in terms of output.
Leading innovation practices across many organizations, I have become very accustomed to accomplishing more with less. I coach youth football and my approach to team building is similar to the offensive style of the University of Oklahoma’s football team.
OU focuses on keeping the same personnel on the field. They operate out of similar formations but have incredibly adaptable skillsets based on the down and distance. Meaning any given player on the field can shift into multiple positions and flex out of their natural spot.
This is how I approach the development of a team. Team members have a primary area of subject matter expertise and secondary responsibilities and have the ability to flex across various aspects of the business. This leads to cost savings for the organization but the creation of significant impact.
11 – EARN TRUST – Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfurme. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.
TOM: Coming from a military background trust is the key to completing whatever the mission objective may be. As a leader, you have to listen to your teams, provide them with a platform to showcase their skills, always treat each with respect and most importantly empower your teams.
I have prided myself on earning the trust of my teams by demonstrating subject matter expertise, attention to detail, and most importantly empathy for not only their work but their lives. This then translates to those that we support both internally as well as our end clients.
Trust is THE currency in today’s fast-paced world. Technologies and solutions come and go but having the trust of the team and clients to know that they can be led in a direction that benefits all are key.
12 – DIVE DEEP – Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdote differ. No task is beneath them.
TOM: For the last 19 years, I have focused on being as detailed oriented as possible. This applies to diving into technology and development use cases, evaluating opposing constructs and frameworks, executing campaigns and testing 3rd party technology on a regular basis.
This also requires working closely with team members to truly understand and competently discuss their areas of domain expertise. It’s no longer feasible as a leader to just be at 30,000 feet. In order to operate at the speed of business today, it’s incredibly important to be as detail-oriented as possible and hold teams accountable while empowering simultaneously.
13 – HAVE BACKBONE; DISAGREE and COMMIT – Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
TOM: Within my teams I created an environment of equal rank, meaning we can speak freely and disagree with a decision without the fear of overstepping based on rank/title.
The ability to challenge decisions is key to constantly innovate. The ability to deconstruct a point of view or have a differing opinion can be critical to overcoming a challenge.
During my various leadership tenures, I have focused on providing the forum for constructive disagreement and also respectfully challenged some decisions that may not fully align with the company vision or client’s best interest.
14 – DELIVER RESULTS – Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.
TOM: Over the past few years my teams and I have focused on delivering results in various forms. This could be in the form of delivering a viable v1 of a product, providing a go-to-market strategy, or creating an analytics model that provides visibility into ongoing impact. The key is a constant focus on delivery and execution while maintaining a strategic position simultaneously.
Over the past two years, I was focused on taking a theoretical concept and creating a completely new product offering. There were setbacks at every step of the way but by building key relationships across the organization, empowering team members, identifying the right talent, having tough discussions around limitations of current team skill sets and ultimately pulling in the right teams to complete the product we were able to deliver an elegant v1 of the product that will impact the organization for years to come.
Here is my full commentary RE: Mixer & Ninja’s Move.
ADAGE –WHAT DOES MIXER DO BETTER THAN TWITCH?
TOM: I have personally been streaming via Mixer (TheBlackFin) much longer than Twitch. I actually preferred Mixer over Twitch as I was primarily an Xbox console gamer and the close integration with the Xbox interface was a great way to quickly and easily stream. You also get USB camera support with Mixer vs Twitch on Xbox.
One of my personal favorite features that Twitch actually just recently rolled out only to Twitch partners is co-streaming. This allows up to four players to stream to a single location. So if you are running a full squad in a first-person shooter you can let your viewers see each player’s POV.
The other feature that I really like is Mixer focuses on time and interactivity vs. just currency to support streamers. Interactivity between streamer and audience is key, allowing your viewers to help direct key decisions.
Mixer’s recent platform update introduced a number of key elements to support time on platform that converts to support for streamers vs. using direct cash so the motivation to naturally engage longer on the platform is a key point of difference. Basically, the cost to the user is less about spending dollars but dedicating your time to show support.
With Mixer, they allow streamers to offer special controls to their viewers, like use X weapon against the boss and allow them to vote. This has been one of Mixer’s biggest points of difference from day one.
RE: Money, Twitch has badges, emotes, and you can have ad-free streams by subscribing to a streamer as well as subscriber-only mode but all of this is directly tied to cash. You are essentially buying accessibility. With Mixer its more about time. The platform rewards viewers for spending time on the platform. Viewers earn all types of virtual rewards just for watching including the key currency Sparks, which allows you to have interactivity with streams.
Mixer does now have a premium currency similar to Twitch that allows users to support streamers called Embers, but it’s not required for interactivity whereas with Twitch its pay to play.
ADAGE –HOW IS MIXER POSITIONING ITSELF WITH BRANDS?
TOM: Mixer brings in around 20 million visitors every month and these are key demographics that brands want to connect with but the ability for a brand to partner directly with Mixer to drive a connection, create a co-branded experience and advertise directly through Mixer is not a viable option at the moment. It looks like Mixer is taking steps to drive more active engagement through the platform and as the audience continues to grow and engage it will eventually open up more direct opportunities for brands directly.
an advertising model across Mixer it’s more about the individual relationships
with streamers and brands directly, similar to Ninja’s Red Bull sponsorship and
product placement in his streams.
Mixer is not directly positioning with brands yet. They are solely focused on growing the community and providing authentic invaluable content for consumers. Ad revenue and the structure around it is future state.
ADAGE –WHAT IS THE AD BUYING PROCESS LIKE?
TOM: No ad buying process on Mixer, brands have to take an “influencer” style approach to reaching audiences on Mixer, that’s through the individual streamers vs. through the platform.
ADAGE – EARLY DAYS, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING/HEARING IN TERMS OF PRICE VS. PERFORMANCE WHEN BUYING ON MIXER?
TOM: No price vs. performance as of yet, but moving forward I would keep a close eye on how Mixer evolves the platform as the shifts and changes they are making are setting up for engagement as a core KPI. Also, all of the positioning and having Mixer in the center of how gaming will evolve with cloud-based services, xCloud, Scarlett (Next Box) and cloud services, Mixer might be an upstart compared to Twitch and YouTube, but they are sitting in a great position on the coming horizon and bringing Ninja over is a good commitment to kick-starting their move towards taking share.
ADAGE: WHY IS MIXER INVESTING IN NINJA?
TOM: Ninja made a lot of sense, not because he is the “best” gamer today as he is not at the top of current players, but his name recognition, ESPN cover athlete and recognition is key to drive buzz around the exclusivity and impact of the deal. Ninja has primarily been a PC player, so for Ninja this makes sense as it pulls in a different audience segment as Mixer has primarily been a Microsoft/Xbox streaming service so it drives more direct connection with console gamers.
Also, Microsoft is focused on blurring the lines of gaming moving forwards between PC and Console players. With xCloud, Xbox Game Pass that opens up cloud-based libraries of games for both PC & Console, it makes a lot of sense to begin to build towards positioning with exclusivity with Ninja.
ADAGE – IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
TOM: All of the positioning and having Mixer in the center of how gaming will evolve with cloud-based services, xCloud, Scarlett (Next XBox) and cloud services, Mixer might be an upstart compared to Twitch and YouTube, but they are sitting in a great position on the coming horizon and bringing Ninja over is a good commitment to kick-starting their move towards taking share.
One of the highlights of my speaking career so far was delivering a TEDx talk in 2018. That talk has consistently picked up views and is now featured on TED.com. I am incredibly excited and humbled to have my work featured here.
Recently, I was on-site at one of the worlds largest manufacturers discussing the convergence of experiences and delivering 2 sets of my Innovation to Reality talk. This session sparked a number of questions from privacy, data and how advertising will look in the 2020s and that is the basis of the commentary below.
My personal position is that over the next decade consumers will “own” their data, essentially through some type of blockchain-powered open ledger technology where ultimately the consumer becomes the trading desk.
This will be managed by their AI proxies via their virtual assistant of choice. The proxy will become the management hub of personal data and consumers via their proxy will approve who/what/when/where the data to be shared. This is why affinity data in the near future will be so incredibly important.
By understanding a passion area, take Star Wars, for example, a retailer can still customize a digital augmented/enhanced overlay experience for you without needing your PII (Personally Identifiable Information) to serve experiences to you. I talk a lot about the concept of the proxy digital twin hypothesis here.
Your personal algorithms will seek out other “affinity links” through the “Proxy web” to make the connection to the appropriate simulation experience. Advertising in the near future will be algorithmically curated through a consumer AI proxy to align the most relevant products and “situational advertising” will become the new normal.
Your proxy will manage situational products & services through your calendar and past purchase history. Here is an example, you and the family are going to the beach, the proxy will curate a list of items from your previous purchases and point out possible “situational” items that make the most sense based on your trip.
It will be less about random products that are loosely based on regression models and past behavior. It will be predictive by nature and built more inside out from the consumer, where the AI proxy becomes the predictive “situational” preference center with the goal of ease, convenience for the end-user.
I recently had the opportunity to deliver the opening keynote at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC during the Innova-con conference.
I provided a tour of tomorrow and highlighted the coming waves of technology based on consumer behavior. The talk discussed disruption and adaptation with concepts, implications, and success strategies based on my Innovation to Reality content series.
I recently had the opportunity to headline the 2019 Print Innovation Exchange in Minneapolis, MN. It was a fun and highly interactive keynote session! We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology & and behavior will shift in the near future and how the 5 levels of autonomy and the new 4P’s will impact the print industry.
The full Evolution of Experience Keynote is available below.
Thank you and please follow @BlackFin360 across social platforms for various updates and a little bit of fun.
I recently had the opportunity to join the NextGen Ninja Show. Host Kory Farooquie and I discuss a number of topics from data, humans over hype, humans vs. AI, dealing with disruption, GenZ, the future and more.
From Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies & The Matrix, Tom Edwards illustrates how pop-culture shows a path for how technology evolves through the filters of Empower, Exponential & Enhanced.
Empower (Timestamp – 5:05) is about the expectation of control and this journey explores Star Wars, Fortnite, Gen Z, the lens as life, how the future is private and the camera is a bridge to intelligence.
Exponential (Timestamp – 15:30) is about intelligent systems that deliver ease & convenience. This journey focuses on the Pixar theory, AI, virtual assistants, the 5 levels of autonomy and the proxy web.
Enhanced (Timestamp – 28:18) is about digital & physical reality and the path to simulation. Here we review all facets of perception, presence, computer vision, digital twins and ultimately synthetic reality while celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the Matrix.
All of this leads to a reimagining of the 4 P’s of product, price, place, promotion to the new 4P’s of Plan, Predictive, Proxy & Pervasive. Finally, we will discuss the actual date when we will see multi-modal interfaces at scale. Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on Twitter & Instagram and subscribe via YouTube.
I was recently asked by Advertising Age why/if Fortnite is a social network for Gen Z. The behaviors tied to gaming cannot be ignored and the brands that can seamlessly capitalize on creating value, providing exclusive content and enhance creativity will reap the rewards.
Here is my full commentary:
AdAge : Are you buying or selling the notion that Fortnite is a social platform?
Tom: Fortnite and gaming, in general, is DEFINITELY a social platform, especially for GENZ. It’s not just about the core gameplay. I see groups getting together to create within the game, to conduct private matches with friends and of course for squad play but it also extends to watching streamers via Twitch & YouTube and sharing content.
There is a seamless flow between in-game and associating with game content on the go. Plus with cross-platform play, it doesn’t matter whether you are on Mobile, Nintendo Switch, PC or Xbox you are always able to connect. I see it in my own home as Fortnite has become the starting point for my youngest (11) and his friends to gather, compare in-game skins and then figure out whether they want to create, set up a private match or just play battle royale.
AdAge: Why or why not? Some brands have gotten into Fortnite (Samsung, Nike, NFL, John Wick, Avengers).
TOM: That said, what should brands be thinking about if entering this universe? Brands should definitely consider how they are aligning with titles like Fortnite as well as eSports (competitive gaming). It’s incredibly important to understand the game properly, the fan base and focus on adding value. It’s less about a passive sponsorship and more about creating value or desire through either free downloadable content or virtual items like Skins in Fortnite.
AdAge: Is there anything else you would like to add?
TOM: Gen Z spends 2.5 hours a day with on-demand content and 1.5 hours a day gaming. It’s less about content marketing and more about empowering their creativity. Gaming is a social currency for GenZ. Things like virtual skins are the new Jordans (Although virtual Jordan’s were recently introduced via Fortnite). Gaming culture is now mainstream and how advertisers should think about gaming and the power of integrating with various properties should be at the top of the list for brands that covet cultural relevance.
Here is a quick reaction & recap video with highlights from today’s Google I/O 2019 event. Google continues to build towards an ambient future. The most exciting announcements were tied to the consolidation of augmented reality, computer vision and 3D experiences directly into search results, the next iteration of Google Duplex for the web that is a direct push towards proxy assistants for all, the evolution of Google Assistant moving towards the center of the operating system and how to prepare content for multimodal discovery and so much more.
I recently attended Facebook’s F8 developer conference. One of the more compelling sessions discussed Facebook Messenger’s role in lead generation, consideration, and re-engagement.
This video is my assessment and analysis of the content presented and additional perspective for marketers looking to capitalize on Facebook Messenger’s shift towards the center of the Facebook product suite. These changes will result in the ability to reach potentially 2 Billion users across platforms and the globe.
I was recently asked my opinion by Advertising Age about Spotify’s recently announced voice-enabled audio ad experience. The user could receive a voice-enabled audio ad promoting a playlist or podcast while listening on the mobile app. The ad encourages new content that can be accessed by saying “Play Now” Here is the recently published article.
Here is my full commentary below.
(Advertising Age) In a sentence or two, what is your initial reaction to the news?
(TOM) I was excited when I heard the news. I am a big believer in designing multi-modal experiences and further extending the mobile experience via voice is a smart move, especially for an audio focused experience like Spotify.
What sort of hurdles, if any, do you see with technology such as this?
(TOM) The hurdles are less about the technology
and more about ensuring that the user is setup to have a seamless and successful
launch of the experience. With the user microphone permission being an additional
step it may cause some to skip or miss the experience.
Do you believe this is something consumers want? Why or why not?
(TOM) Consumers want ease, convenience and while listening to Spotify to be entertained. If the voice ads are relevant and based on the affinity of the listener then this could be seen as a value ad, but some education or step by step instructions may be required for some users, especially if they have to adjust settings on their device. For most, it will not be an issue, but preparing for all user scenarios and a frictionless path for consumers will be critical to driving engagement.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
(TOM) There is an opportunity for a voice-based advertising experience. Smart Speaker experiences have been very deliberate not to integrate voice as the focus has been on user adoption. There is a precedent for the Spotify “play now” experience with Siri Shortcuts and how they extend native applications via voice. Consumers can set their own intents via Siri to activate a specific action within an app. The Spotify experience adds a monetization angle to the experience.
I was recently asked by Ad Exchanger to provide my thoughts tied to announcements made at Facebook’s 2019 F8 developer conference. Here is a link to the published Ad Exchanger article.
My full commentary is outlined below:
(Ad Exchanger) Does this “privacy vision” feel sincere or is Facebook cleverly positioning its shift?
(TOM) I feel the shift from Facebook to “the Future
is Private” was necessary as the shift reflects how consumers have been
interacting since 2016 when social messaging surpassed open social in terms of
The company went through
a similar shift in 2014 with the myopic focus on becoming “Mobile First” with
100% focus and resource allocation supporting the vision. I see the same focus
here with privacy. It makes sense that this was the macro theme for F8 and a
rallying cry to adjust the product suites. The focus on interoperability and
encryption as well as shifting messenger to be the new connection point for
friends and families is a smart move.
Separately, how much of an impact will the
privacy vision have on how Facebook will be able to monetize?
How this impacts
advertising will be interesting. While the focus on reduced permanence and the
statements around privacy and encryption are good tent pole statements, item #6
in the privacy manifesto was Secure Data Storage. There will also be the
consolation around Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp to create a new
advertising network connected to 2 billion people. How data will be used to
support the targeting is TBD but the infrastructure to create new avenues of
reach and the new consumer acquisition ad units that drive to Messenger will be
a key part of their strategy putting the onus on the consumer to share data, as
outlined by the new consumer acquisition ad types for Messenger.
And lastly, how will marketers need to change
their Facebook strategy as engagement moves invariably away from the feed and
more into Stories, messaging, etc.
(TOM) As marketers it’s important to understand the
shift away from content marketing and focus on enabling creativity, utility and
entertainment through Messenger and Instagram. Leaning into the ability to
co-view video, utility through integration of various API’s, understanding the
new payment and commerce capabilities and supporting the creation of AR
experiences. Also understanding how to navigate the shift with FB5 towards
groups and the role that marketers can play to create new types of
There is a lot to unpack and as Facebook continues to shift towards fast, reliable and private experiences, it will be interesting to see how the platforms actually evolve and where new opportunities to drive monetization will come from.
A quick reaction & recap video with highlights from today’s Facebook F8 event. The macro theme was the future is private and it was all about Facebook’s approach to privacy and it’s product suite.
Messenger is going to play a starring role, advances with Instagram and commerce, further maturing of Facebook’s AR toolset, new and exciting VR announcements, a preview of how CRM will evolve via Messenger and what was missing from today’s show. This and more in today’s video.
I was recently in LA and sat down with Chris Erb, founder of TripleClix, an amazing boutique video game marketing agency. I have known Chris for almost a decade and we have collaborated on a lot of fun programs over the years.
When Chris asked me to be guest #1 on his new podcast I jumped at the chance. We talk about the gaming industry and what it means for marketers, the future of gaming and consumer experience and a healthy debate about the Seattle Supersonics leaving for Oklahoma City. That and so much more. Enjoy!
Yesterday was an absolute blast. Everything moves so quickly in the world of marketing & technology. It’s fun to sometimes take a step back and have a little fun while catching those who maybe moving just a bit too quickly.
Here is a fun “trend” recap video that highlights Pet VR, Smart Meats & Outsourced Relaxation.
I was recently asked for my thoughts about a number of the recent Apple Event announcements. From Apple’s original content strategy, monetization, advertising and more. Here is the published article.
Here was my full commentary on the topic:
(Ad Exchanger) Is what Apple planning a Netflix killer?
(TOM) Apple wants to be the Sherpa and curator of content. Their new recommendation engine is more about aggregation across subscriptions vs. being a content killer. I found it interesting that they are still maintaining partnerships with big cable providers while still differentiating through per channel subscriptions. This isn’t a Netflix killer, but Apple understands that moving forward individuals want control over their experiences and multiple subscriptions will exist. They want to be the “Google Search” of entertainment. This keeps their hardware and services sticky throughout.
With Apple TV+ original content, Apple is focusing on creating programming that will create affinity within their services as well. I would not call this a Netflix killer, but it’s a first step to not only control the navigation of content, but also become a destination as well.
What makes sense in your view for Apple from a monetization
standpoint for its original content and its foray into TV?
(TOM) What came through loud and clear from today’s event is Apple’s
focus on allowing the consumer to ultimately control their entertainment
options. By providing bite-sized subscription services across their ecosystem
they gain a consistent stream of revenue that is scalable and minimizes risk of
yet to be determined how much revenue Apple TV+ will drive in terms of new
subscriptions, but with the amount of talent that was showcased, including
Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston and so many more providers, it just
takes a few shows to catch on to drive monetization of original content.
What are your thoughts about how Apple will deal with advertisers/advertising, what a rev share might be if ads are one of the monetization options?
(TOM) I have not heard anything yet about how Apple will deal with advertisers/advertising. One recurring theme was re-emphasizing on device data processing and less information being available to 3rd parties. Apple may be less inclined to leverage an advertising-based model as they dive into recurring revenue with subscriptions.
This doesn’t mean the end of advertisers with Apple. As with any program, driving awareness will need to occur outside of the Apple TV+ ecosystem. This is through content, traditional & performance-based advertising. Advertisers will need to focus on other affinity-based channels to connect audiences with programming.
Today’s event was all about Apple’s focus on new services. Normally these events discuss Hardware & Software, but today was all about new forms of subscriptions that allow consumers more control while showcasing Apple’s strategy to not only provide access /navigation/curation of entertainment but also serve as an end destination with new original content for gaming & entertainment.
Apple also provided a shock to the financial services system with the launch of Apple Card. With an interface and features yet to be seen by traditional banks, Apple is making a bold move towards controlling multiple facets of the consumer journey, all without advertising and an emphasis on privacy.
Below is a full recap of key trends from SXSW Interactive 2019. From the ever-expanding spatial computing landscape, electric scooters, activations, robots & AI, the not so silent voice wars and so much more. It’s all here.
Recently, my wife had a fun idea to get a custom Funko Pop to take with me on my travels and use that to chronicle events, speaking engagements, and trade shows. These adventures will be logged here on the blog via the #Tompop page as well as Instagram be sure to follow/subscribe to see all the fun.
What does it mean to you to be voted on as the winner by such an esteemed jury of your peers?
It was an honor just to be nominated. To know that such an esteemed jury of my peers gravitated towards me as a candidate is incredibly humbling. I have an immense amount of respect for the members of the jury and the other nominees across categories. I am grateful that the jury felt my contributions to the industry were worthy of recognition. Thanks again to the jury!
You had some very tough competition in each of the categories. How does it feel to be recognized over such an amazing group of your peers for the two wins?
With a field of 9 incredibly talented nominees, the trailblazer category was highly competitive! Each nominee represented great credentials and accomplishments and each individual brought a unique perspective and examples for how they are driving innovation and creativity. To hear my name called was surprising, exhilarating, and satisfying at the same time.
What do you feel put your nomination over the top?
I would assume that my passion for creating content and speaking regularly as a marketing technology futurist for the industry over the past 11 years at Blackfin360.com combined with a near obsession for the intersection of consumer behavior and emerging technology were factors in the marketing contributor award.
For marketing trailblazer, having a natural predisposition towards aligning trends, use cases and emerging technology into solutions that drive clients business were key contributors. From publishing yearly trends, covering key events, mapping trends for clients, developing products and solutions, speaking regularly at industry events and applying the latest technology in new and compelling ways was hopefully impactful for the jury.
Would you recommend your peers to apply for nomination, and why?
I would highly recommend that anyone in the marketing space recommend their peers for an OnCon Icon honor. Many awards today are tied to organizations and marketing campaigns. The OnCon Icon Awards provides the opportunity to recognize organizations and individuals for their contributions to the industry and have their peers recognize individual contributions in addition to company recognition. It’s a great mix and I was incredibly excited for both my organization and for the opportunity to pick up individual awards as well. Apply for, or be reminded to apply for the 2020 Awards here.
How would you describe the awards evening?
The event was held at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. The venue in and of itself was impressive and a great location for an awards event. From the pre-event mixer to the red carpet with my wife, the energy continued to build as we prepared to settle in for the awards presentations.
I was immediately impressed by the brands represented and how senior the individuals were. This added to the friendly competitive atmosphere as there was a mutual respect but also a strong desire to win.
When it came time for the awards the pace of the evening was well kept and when my name was called it was a quick jaunt to the stage with a live band playing intro music. Having an opportunity to thank my wife, the jury, the other nominees and my team made the win more meaningful. I appreciated the opportunity to thank those who have made such an impact on my career over the years and are incredibly supportive.
It’s been a few days since the event, any final thoughts?
I am very grateful to have been a part of the 2019 Oncon Icon awards and would highly recommend nominating your peers for potential recognition in 2020. I am also very thankful for the support of my wife of 20 years, my agency creative tech & innovation teams (Ian, Steve, Wes, Jeremy), and the rest of the organization. Thanks again to the jury and to Sean Tomarelli for putting on such a great and memorable show. See you in 2020!
I recently had the opportunity to deliver the opening keynote at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC during the Innova-con conference.
I provided a tour of tomorrow and highlighted the coming waves of technology based on consumer behavior. The talk discussed disruption and adaptation with concepts, implications, and success strategies based on my Innovation to Reality content series.
What a great week! From the OnCon Icon Awards to delivering a keynote during the 2019 Carnegie Dartlet Conference, it was a great week in Orlando!
What was great about #CarnegieConf, besides the fact that it was hosted at Walt Disney World, was the amazing audience of higher education professionals. They were highly engaged both during the talk and via social.
The talk centered around how technology will adapt to us vs. us adapting to it. From the role the camera will play as a bridge to intelligence, why the Pixar Theory explains AI adoption, and how spatial computing combined with virtual assistant proxies will change our view of reality.
I was recently nominated for multiple awards by OnCon for their 2019 OnCon Icon awards. Marketing Trailblazer, Contributor, and Icon.
As the event unfolded last night I was incredibly grateful to have my wife Cherlyn by my side. As the awards were being announced I was honored to be included with the many other nominees who have made such impactful contributions.
At the end of the night I was awarded 2 awards and couldn’t be happier or more thankful for my team who helped me achieve this recognition. I love sharing information about the intersection of emerging technology and consumer behavior. Seeing people use this information to grow their businesses is very fulfilling.
Marketing Trailblazer exhibits innovation, pioneering, and successful creativity.
Marketing Contributor value to the industry for sharing thought leadership.
I have been a fan of Dan Ferguson & the Groove Jones team for years. They are definitely my go-to partner for immersive experiences. Groove Jones worked with the Ford Motor Company on a gamified VR experience that showcases their new Co-Pilot360™ safety technology as well as Sleep Number activation at CES 2019.
The experience was a 6 minute driving experience that takes the user on a journey from their home and onto a highway drive and then into the city, all along putting them into a variety of scenarios where they face various obstacles and hazards to demonstrate the safety technology.
Users attempt to react to the hazards and obstacles with a game controller and see if they can beat or keep up with the Co-Pilot360 technology. The application tracks where the user is looking as well. So by tracking if they are able to see an obstacle or hazard visually or by using the controller they are given a score. It is a fully interactive experience running on the Oculus Go.
As you can see below, I scored an 83% out of a possible 100%. A leaderboard system on-site displayed the daily leaders. Data was collected on every user that played tying into Ford’s CRM goals. Players received an email confirming their score along with a 360º panoramic image that they could then share on their social channels.
They also worked with their client Sleep Number again on a Quarterback Challenge VR experience that demonstrates how a good nights sleep versus a poor nights sleep impacts your physical performance. In this multiplayer experience, users are competing to see who can hit the most targets in a Quarterback Challenge game.
The four players are transported onto the 50 yard line of a massive football stadium. The first part of the game simulates how you would feel with a good nights sleep. The second part of the game simulates what it feels and looks like when you have had a poor nights sleep of 6 hours or less. Special guest stars stopped by the booth for their chance to play, including Katie Couric, who beat everyone she was playing against. Groove Jones is doing some amazing work and they are definitely my go to for immersive experiences.
As technology seamlessly integrates into our lives we will continue to move towards a time when our technology adapts to us vs. us inputting into the technology.
2019 will accelerate the convergence of experiences. The shift from desktop and mobile to voice, vision and touch fueled by intelligent systems will be a key focus for the coming year.
We will see the role of voice-based assistants evolve towards predictive proxies, advancing hardware will unlock spatial computing (AR/VR/Mixed/Hyper Reality) and rapidly evolving iterations of artificial intelligence will transform the camera and how we interact with the world around us.
We hope you enjoy our 2019 trend predictions. We filter the coming convergence through the framework of Empower, Exponential, and Enhanced
One of the bigger trends in 2019 will be tied to Digital Twins… but why? Here is a full video breakdown.
WHAT ARE DIGITAL TWINS
A digital twin refers to a digital replica or model of a physical asset (physical twin), processes, people, places, systems and devices that can be used for various purposes such as simulation of performance.
So It’s Primarily For FACTORIES COOL? WHY SHOULD I CARE?
The primary use cases are tied to Industrial IOT scenarios.The Digital Twin serves as a bridge between physical and digital. The physical asset has IOT sensors that constantly collect various forms of data and feed the information to the digital twin to analyze and run predictive simulations. The findings from the virtual models can then be applied to the physical asset.
MY HYPOTHESIS – APPLICATION TO CONSUMERS
There is a possible connection to consumer experience use cases tied to physical sensor data and virtual assistant proxy simulations.
What’s going to enable the use of consumer experience digital twin experiences at scale will be 5G connectivity. 5G will fuel connection of IOT frameworks as well as edge computing to reduce potential latency and the ability to process information as close to the source as possible.
This will allow connectivity and enhanced data transfer capabilities of the 20 billion IOT devices that exist today.
ROLE OF THE PROXY WEB
2019 will also see the accelerated adoption and dependence on virtual assistants. There are now over 1 billion devices that provide voice assistant access today.
90 Million use voice assistants on smartphones and 45 million use them on smart speakers per month.
Digital assistants are an on ramp to further usage of AI and robotics. As virtual assistants move towards the center of the operating experience we will continue to move towards what I call, the Proxy Web.
This is where our virtual assistants begin managing certain aspects of our lives behind the scenes.
Our proxy will be able to communicate with other proxies and align preferences to map where to eat for dinner with a friend, it knows our food preferences and schedule.
This preference ownership and ability to communicate with other proxies and nodes in systems could be the key to unlocking spatial computing simulation at scale.
DYNAMIC SPATIAL COMPUTING EXPERIENCES
One of the key areas of focus in 2019 will be the further melding of physical and digital experiences. We have seen the rapid democratization of various forms of spatial computing.
Spatial Computing is using the physical space around us as a medium to interact with technology.
This includes AR, VR, Mixed Reality, Hyper Reality and more. The goal with my digital twin hypothesis is to not only deliver a one size fits all experience but creating personalization at scale through spatial computing.
Digital Twin type simulations may be the key to connect custom reality overlays based on preferences driven by our virtual assistants.
IDEA in Action…
I am a Star Wars fan…. the retailer Target normally goes big with Star Wars in-store promotions when there is a major film release. With the digital twin simulation concept, based on my personal preferences, my virtual assistant knows that I have a strong affinity for Star Wars based on my behavior, this includes voice queries, watching Star Wars Theory videos via YouTube, my past purchases of Funko Pops,etc…
Instead of plastering the store with physical Star Wars promotional material, Target could have pre-mapped various spatial computing “experiences” that are triggered based preferences discoverable via my virtual assistant.
An in-store sensor network could feed previous trip information of me and other guests with a similar affinity and allow for the Star Wars focused simulation to be adjusted in real-time to get me to a specific area of the store or special offers on say retail specific Funko Pops.
The Digital Twin becomes the intelligence engine to enhance the base physical store experience and create a personalized experience based on predictive digital simulation.
The ultimate goal being to have the environment and experience personalized to me based on multiple simulations and a connection to my preferences.
I recently had the privilege to deliver a keynote to the Discover card Pulse network advisory team covering the topic of converting AI into ROI.
For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to Empower, Exponential and Enhanced with a detailed look at multiple facets of artificial intelligence including how the Pixar Theory, all movies are on the same timeline, foreshadows the path for how consumers will adopt AI fueled technology.
Next, we reviewed AI’s potential impact on business results and consumer behavior. The talk also covered the rapid convergence of multimodal technology experiences and the role AI will play in shifting behavior towards the intelligent camera via computer vision and virtual assistants.
The talk ended with a deep dive into the new AI driven 4 P’s of AI marketing and key points to consider to start to prepare for integration of AI into all facets of business.
For more on this topic I recently joined the AI Today Podcast and discussed a number of these topics and more.
AI TODAY PODCAST – Episode 50 – Enhancing Experiences with AI Interview
0:48 – Introduction
1:33 – Recap of Keynote topic at Amazon Alexa Voice Summit
2:53 – Discuss why we are in the “golden age of AI”
4:20 – Discuss The Pixar Theory and Artificial Intelligence
7:00 – Why predictive experiences are key for mass adoption of AI
9:00 – Discuss Gen Z & expectations of experiences
9:37 – How Epsilon Agency is using artificial intelligence
13:25 – What is the future of artificial intelligence?
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Jeffrey Hayzlett of C-Suite TV to kick off season 7 of Executive Perspectives. We discussed digital disruption, conversational experiences, artificial intelligence and best practices for leveraging data to connect with consumers.
Now, I have heard from multiple sources that the interview is available On-demand on domestic and international United Airlines flights.
For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to Empower, Exponential and Enhanced to focus on the camera as a platform, artificial intelligence, multi-modal, and the New 4 P’s of AI marketing and how the convergence of all of these will impact the path to purchase.