Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles

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 focus and thought around everything from 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 and hoping that carries the day, relationships only go so far.

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. OWNERSHIPLeaders 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 are only focused on short term goals and returns. Looking back, those organizations that did not adopt a roadmap for the future and took steps outlined to future proof their business are struggling or no longer in business today. Ownership includes not sacrificing long-term value or opportunity for short-term gains.

3. INVENT & SIMPLIFYLeaders 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 CURIOUSLeaders 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 constantly 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 TALENTLeaders 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 and most importantly have the ability to articulate a point of view.

It’s not just about reporting or sharing a link about a technology or trend, curation is only part of the equation. It’s having the ability to craft a unique point of view. Being deliberate and having a consistent approach to looking 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.

7 – INSIST ON THE HIGHEST STANDARDSLeaders 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 BIGThinking 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 ACTIONSpeed 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 number of business leaders at major agencies and organizations are very similar to politicians. There 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 – FRUGALITYAccomplish 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 TRUSTLeaders 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.

US Army Parachutist Badge

12 – DIVE DEEPLeaders 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 COMMITLeaders 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 RESULTSLeaders 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.

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In The News: Mixer, Ninja & Brands

I recently provided commentary to AdAge tied to Mixer’s recent exclusive deal with eSports celebrity Ninja. Below is my full commentary tied to how Mixer differs from Twitch, how Mixer is positioning itself with brands, why Mixer is investing in Ninja,

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.

Without 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.

Follow Tom @BlackFIn360 on YouTube, Instagram & Twitter

Algorithms, Affinity & Advertising in the 2020s

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.

Be sure to follow Tom @BlackFin360 via Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

Disruption Preparing for Tomorrow Book Release

In honor of Amazon Prime Day, I wanted to highlight a book that I recently contributed to called Disruption, Preparing for Tomorrow.

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.

All of the conference content was then edited into the Disruption – Preparing for Tomorrow Book Release. Copies are available via my Amazon Storefront.

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OnCon Top 50 Marketer

I wanted to reach out to those of you I have worked closely with over the past few years and ask for an assist. I have been nominated as a top 50 marketer by OnCon and would love your support with a quick vote as it is 100% peer driven.

It just requires name, email, title and a check mark next to my name. Thank you in advance for anyone who can take the 2 min to vote.

Would love your support!
https://www.onconferences.com/votemarketing

Thank you! – Tom

UPDATE: I received confirmation that I am one of the selected 50. Will receive the award in January. Thanks to all who participated!

Print Innovation Exchange Headliner Keynote

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.

Tom Edwards Evolution of Experience 2019

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.

In the News: AdAge Fortnite & Gen Z

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 link to full article.

AdAge Tom Edwards Commentary

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Google I/O 2019 Trends & Analysis

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.

Google I/O 2019 Trend & Analysis

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In The News: AdAge & Spotify Voice Ads

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.

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In The News: AdExchanger & F8

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 usage behavior. 

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 connections. 

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. 

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Facebook F8 Recap & Reaction

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.

Full recap & analysis of Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference

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TripleClix Gaming/Marketing Podcast

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!

Listen via Spotify

Be sure to save to your Spotify Library

Listen via Apple

Be sure to subscribe and download!

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 & Follow Chris @ChrisErb

April Fools Day Trends 2019

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.

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Apple Live Event Recap & Reaction

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.

Here is the full recap:

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Tom Edwards Funko Pop Adventures

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.

Special thanks to All Star Custom Figures

ZDNet Interview: 2019 Trends

I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on the Tonya Hall show. Tonya is a contributor to CBS Interactive properties such as ZDNet and Tech Republic.

Our discussion touches upon a number of currently trending topics such as artificial intelligence, spatial computing, voice assistants, proxy marketing, digital twin, 8K and much more.

Here is the full interview.

Full Interview at: https://www.zdnet.com/video/10-macro-trends-from-ces-2019/

2019 OnCon Icon Awards Interview

Recently, I was awarded the 2019 OnCon Icon Marketing Trailblazer & Marketing Contributor awards. Post-event, I was interviewed by the OnCon team and we discussed a number of topics such as what it meant to win the awards, what put the nominations over the top and recommendations for 2020.

The full interview can be read via OnCon

Below is a repost of the interview questions.

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!

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Innova-con Keynote

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.

Book Tom for an event here.

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Carnegie Dartlet Keynote

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.

Time to leave Disney but can’t wait to be back!

Book Tom for an event here.

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Oncon Icon Awards

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.

Epsilon Agency picked up the Marketing Solution Icon award during the evening as well.

Here is the full list of winners and acceptance videos from the night. https://www.onconferences.com/marketingicon

Thanks again to OnCon, my Epsilon Agency team and of course my wife of almost 20 years, Cherlyn for all of the support.

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CES 2019 Highlight – Groove Jones

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. 

Dan Ferguson & I at SXSW 2017

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.

Check them out here – www.groovejones.com

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19 Trends for 2019

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

The 2019 Trend analysis from my team and I live at http://theinnovationlounge.com.

EMPOWER – Technology that empowers consumers

EXPONENTIAL – Technology fueling intelligence and autonomous systems.

ENHANCED – Technology that is blurring the lines between physical & digital

BEYOND – Tech that is on the horizon for consideration

Each not only discusses the technology, but also the short and long term implications for marketers to consider.

EMPOWER IMPLICATIONS

EXPONENTIAL IMPLICATIONS

ENHANCED IMPLICATIONS

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BeTheTalk Podcast Interview

I recently had the privilege of joining Nathan Eckel as a guest on his BeTheTalk podcast series.

We talked about the near future, artificial intelligence, spatial computing and my preparation approach for TEDx. 

You can hear all of episode 320 BeTheTalk podcast interview here: 

Time Stamped Show Notes
[01:08] – Behind Tom’s talk called “The Evolution of Experience”.

[02:29] – Empower, Exponential and Enhanced.

[07:26] – Some of the things that Tom and his team is doing to help major corporations.

[09:28] – Tom explained different types of Artificial Intelligence.

[11:27] – The Blitz Round with Tom Edwards.

[16:10] – Tom Edwards’ final word of advice.

Additional Detail On My Preparation for my TEDx talk.

Facebook Live Recording of the Evolution of Experience BeTheTalk Podcast.

BeTheTalk is a 7 day a week podcast where Nathan Eckel chats with talkers from TEDx & branded events. Tips tools and techniques that can help you give the talk to change the world at BeTheTalk.com !

Tom Edwards TEDx – Evolution of Experience

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Full Speaker Bio https://blackfin360.com/speaking-engagements/