Generative AI Workshops

My latest talk on Generative AI was a focused discussion on aligning traditional AI approaches with Generative AI and how to scale beyond POCs by mapping value towards investment during a recent workshop.

I really find the workshop format to be absolutely perfect for delving into the diverse realms of generative AI. It provides us the opportunity to explore both the external and internal perspectives, really getting into the nitty-gritty of how accelerators play a pivotal role in ramping up value generation. It’s the ideal avenue to come together, establish alignment on prioritization goals, and swiftly chart a course of action by building consensus.

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Microsoft Open AI Event

I was presented with the chance the discuss generative AI at the recent Microsoft Open AI event. I delivered a keynote addressing the influence of generative AI on customer and growth.

Additionally, I steered a comprehensive breakout session that delved into strategic methodologies encompassing governance, operational frameworks, proof of concepts, the sequencing of use cases, techniques for expanding applied AI and data infrastructure, and the principles of responsible AI.

This session also featured a number of real-time examples spanning across various functional business areas. I get a great deal of satisfaction from engaging directly with clients, and the participants were remarkably engaged and interactive!

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Generative AI Keynote

With great excitement, I took the stage in Denver, Colorado, ready to deliver a compelling 60-minute keynote to an audience of 500+ on topic of Generative AI and its profound impact on businesses. Throughout the presentation, I delved into a diverse range of topics, starting from behavioral drivers and opportunity drivers, to the transformative shift from data strategy to knowledge strategy.

Among the highlights were discussions on how Generative AI impacts various functional business units, the necessary changes it brings to our work methodologies, and effective ways of managing it within organizations. Additionally, I addressed the vital aspect of responsible AI and the significance of governance in AI implementations.

During the talk, I emphasized the importance of use case prioritization and explored the ideal data and tech architecture required for a seamless transition from proof of concept to production. I didn’t overlook the significance of security considerations in this transformative process.

Furthermore, I dedicated a portion of the keynote to delve into the future impact of AI, encompassing both physical and digital domains across various industries. It was an enlightening session that left the audience with valuable insights into the ever-evolving landscape of AI and its far-reaching effects.

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Navigating the Future of AI

As we progress in a world that is quickly transforming due to the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), it is essential to gain a comprehensive understanding of the various AI systems and their capabilities by examining the evolution of different AI archetypes.

Keeping a close eye on the progress and sophistication of AI archetypes is essential for businesses looking to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive and technology-driven world. By tracking advancements in AI capabilities, companies can identify new opportunities and adapt their strategies accordingly to maintain a competitive edge.

In today’s post, I’ll be delving into various AI archetypes and providing examples of each, and exploring their potential influence on the future of business.

  1. Reactive AI: The Simplest Archetype

Reactive AI systems, also known as rule-based systems, have been in use since the early days of AI research in the 1950s and 1960s. These systems can only react to specific inputs and do not have the ability to learn from past experiences or store information.

Reactive AI does not have the ability to learn from past experiences or adapt their behavior. A classic example of reactive AI is IBM’s Deep Blue, the chess-playing computer that famously defeated world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Deep Blue analyzed millions of chess positions and made decisions based on its programming, but it couldn’t learn from its games or adapt its strategies beyond its initial programming.

Some basic robots, such as vacuum cleaners like the Roomba, can also be considered Reactive AI. These robots use sensors to detect obstacles and perform specific actions based on the input from their environment. They do not possess memory or the ability to learn from past experiences and cannot adapt their behavior.

Another type of reactive AI used in healthcare are expert systems. Expert systems are AI applications that mimic the decision-making abilities of a human expert in a specific domain. These systems use a knowledge base of facts and rules to make inferences and provide solutions to specific problems. For example, an expert system for medical diagnosis could use a predefined set of rules to suggest possible diagnoses based on the input symptoms but lack learning capabilities.

  1. Limited Memory AI: Learning from Experience

Limited memory AI, which can learn from past data and experiences, started gaining prominence in the 1980s and 1990s with the development of machine learning techniques, such as neural networks and reinforcement learning. These systems have a limited ability to learn from past experiences, allowing them to improve their performance over time.

Self-driving cars are a prime example of limited memory AI. They use data gathered from previous trips to improve their navigation, obstacle detection, and decision-making capabilities.

Voice-based systems like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant primarily fit within the Limited Memory AI archetype. Virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant rely on AI algorithms to generate responses based on their training data and some past experiences. They can learn from user interactions, improving their performance and tailoring their responses over time.

These systems use natural language processing (NLP) to understand and process voice commands, and machine learning algorithms to provide relevant information, perform tasks, or control connected devices. While these voice-based systems have advanced capabilities, they do not yet possess the level of understanding and modeling of human emotions, intentions, beliefs, and desires.

Generative AI can be considered limited memory AI archetype. Generative AI models, such as GPT-4 and DALL-E, are trained on large amounts of data and use this knowledge to generate content. These models are based on past experiences (the data they have been trained on) and can generate text, images, or even music that closely resemble human-generated content. While they do learn from their training data, their learning capabilities are limited to the scope of the data they have been exposed to and the specific tasks they have been trained for.

Digital humans, which are AI-powered virtual characters designed to resemble and interact like real humans, can fit primarily within the Limited Memory AI and possibly evolve towards Theory of Mind AI archetypes, depending on the sophistication of the underlying AI system.

Another area I have discussed previously is emotive robotics. When it comes to AI archetypes, emotive robots that rely on AI algorithms to generate responses based on their training data and some past experiences fit within the Limited Memory AI archetype. These robots can learn to some extent from their interactions and adapt their behavior accordingly. Examples include social robots, customer service robots, or companion robots that use AI to simulate human-like emotions and interactions.

  1. Theory of Mind AI: Understanding Human Emotions and Intentions

The Theory of Mind AI archetype represents systems capable of modeling human emotions, intentions, beliefs, and desires. These AI systems would be able to interact with humans more effectively, empathize, and even predict human behavior. Although we have yet to achieve this level of AI-human interaction, as generative AI systems become more sophisticated, they may begin to exhibit a deeper understanding of human emotions, intentions, and beliefs.

By generating content that is more contextually aware and emotionally intelligent, these AI systems could potentially move closer to the Theory of Mind AI archetype. Although generative AI is not yet at this level of human understanding, ongoing research and development in AI could enable future advancements in this direction. As these systems evolve, they will revolutionize industries such as customer service, mental health, and entertainment.

As digital humans evolve and their AI systems become more sophisticated, they may increasingly fit within the Theory of Mind AI archetype. Advanced digital humans would be able to understand and model human emotions, intentions, beliefs, and desires, resulting in more natural and effective interactions with people. This could lead to digital humans being used in a wide range of applications, such as virtual therapy, and entertainment.

As emotive robots evolve and their AI systems become more sophisticated, they may increasingly fit within the Theory of Mind AI archetype. Advanced emotive robots would be capable of understanding and modeling human emotions, intentions, beliefs, and desires, resulting in more natural and effective interactions. These robots could be used in a variety of applications, such as therapy, caregiving, and education, where understanding and expressing emotions are essential for effective communication.

  1. Self-Aware AI: The Philosophical Frontier

Self-aware AI is a thought-provoking theoretical concept, envisioning AI systems endowed with consciousness, self-awareness, and an understanding of their own existence. These AI systems would have the capacity to make autonomous decisions, set their own goals, and even potentially exhibit creativity. While self-aware AI remains in the realm of science fiction, it offers a fascinating area of exploration that could ultimately redefine our understanding of intelligence and consciousness.

As someone captivated by the potential of self-aware AI, I’ve seen its influence on the creative works of numerous science fiction authors, filmmakers, and futurists. These fictional portrayals often depict AI systems with consciousness, self-awareness, and a comprehension of their own existence. A few of my favorite movies showcase prime examples, such as HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Skynet from the Terminator series, and the Machines from the Matrix trilogy.

  1. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): The Holy Grail of AI Research

AGI, refers to AI systems that can match or surpass human intelligence across a wide range of tasks. AGI would be capable of adapting to new situations, solving problems, and thinking abstractly, much like humans do. Although AGI remains a theoretical goal in AI research, its potential impact on society is enormous, from revolutionizing scientific discovery to transforming the global economy.

We’ve come a long way from the early days of reactive AI, now finding ourselves at the intersection of Limited Memory and Theory of Mind AI. With the rapid pace of change, we’re on the cusp of bridging the gap between reality and what was once only found in science fiction.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 and stay tuned to the BlackFin360 blog for the latest on AI, future-forward predictions, analysis of the latest emerging technologies, and their implications for the future.

Generative AI & ChatGPT


I have been working on and speaking about the topic of AI since 2016. Over the years, I have researched across generational cohorts, and what is consistent across every age is the primary behavioral driver for why individuals will adopt and engage with intelligent systems, which is ease & convenience.

Generative AI, or artificial intelligence capable of creating new content and ideas, is one of the most rapidly growing technologies today. It has already made waves in the world of literature, art, music, and more. But what impact will it have on our future?

Generative AI has the potential to completely revolutionize how we create content. In its simplest form, it can be used to generate new stories or lyrics based on existing themes. The possibilities are far-reaching when it comes to creating entirely original works that would never been conceived without generative AI.

In this video, I discuss the rise of Generative AI and its implications for pharmaceutical marketing, creativity, prompt engineering, and key considerations tied to visual and text-based large language models DALL-E, GPT, and OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT.

Other topics include insight about ChatGPT Professional, Google vs. Microsoft, and discuss ethics, bias, and other key points to consider when thinking about the application of ChatGPT and other transformer models for business.

It’s clear that generative AI holds a great deal of promise for humanity and its future—but only if used responsibly and ethically. With powerful technologies like these come big responsibilities.

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Hamilton Mann Conversation Episode #68

I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on the Hamilton Mann conversation. We discussed a number of topics outlined below.

As countries grapple with how to limit global warming and protect natural resources and biodiversity, more companies are growing their own commitments to building SDGs-friendly products, services and supply chains. At this year’s CES, Companies and start-ups touched on a broad range of those efforts while leveraging data and AI as a new normal.

What were some of the most digital innovative products or services that could help the greater interest of society?   

How was the sustainability stake taken into account as a value of the digital innovation showcased?

And beyond tech, what are some of the encouraging examples of companies that highlight new digital business models embracing new 5 Ps (aka People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership)?

VIEW THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

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10 Takeaways from CES 2023

It was great to be back at the Las Vegas Convention Center for CES 2023. This is one of my favorite events of the year, as it provides a near-future preview of technology that will further empower end-users, augment intelligence and experiences through intelligent algorithms and allow us to transport versions of ourselves into digital realms. Here are my ten top takeaways from CES 2023.

Reality, Augmented – The shift to an entirely seamless reality that fuses digital and physical will require a convergence of technology, behavioral modifications, access, and adoption. At CES 2023, the path toward augmented virtuality consisted of advancements from wearables that create haptic feedback in the form of ITRI’s Imeta washable shirt to Sony’s Mocopi motion capture kit that allows for easy and affordable VTuber motion tracking to quickly port your movement into virtual experiences. The latest advancements in augmented and mixed reality glasses have increased the field of view, more processing power, and seamlessly integrated video and audio, all with a smaller form factor.

Discuss Smart glass advancement via Vuzix & Magic Leap
ITRI IMeta Haptic T-Shirt

Shifting Modalities – Our world today is primarily mobile-centric and desktop for productivity. CES shows a time very soon when we must think about multi-modal experiences. Voice, Vision, and Touch all become a part of a new canvas that we, as marketers, will have available to weave narratives that bridge physical and digital experiences. One of the highlights of the show was OVR technology. They integrate smell into digital and immersive experiences. Another great example was from Microsoft and their partner Touchcast with an immersive store of the future concept.

OVR Technology overview – Scent to immersive experience
Example from Microsoft and Touchcast – Store of the Future

Empowering Accessibility – The initial wave of technology brings hype and a rush to create relevant use cases. The same was accurate when it came to augmenting reality and immersive experiences. This year, there was a directed focus on creating experiences that empower accessibility.

Example of accessible immersive experience sans headset
Xander Glasses Convert Speech to Visual Text in Real Time!

Beam Me Anywhere – Holograms were core elements of science fiction for decades. Star Trek and Star Wars popularized the concept of weaving holograms into a part of an ongoing narrative. At CES 2023, holograms took significant leaps forward. From photo-realistic, fully interactive experiences that create the illusion of presence anywhere in the world via Proto and ARTH Media to Hypervsn’s ever-evolving open-air hologram systems. Holograms are no longer just for science fiction.

ARTH Hologram Overview
Proto Hologram Private Demo
Demo of HypervsnSmartV Product Configurator Solution

AI Everywhere < AI Enhanced – Pre-pandemic, AI was everywhere at CES, and It was more of a label with actual AI models in nascent forms or simply as a marketing ploy for foot traffic. In 2023, AI was indeed the foundation from product innovation to enhanced experiences, focused on delivering ease and convenience via intelligent algorithms.

CES 2023 – AI OVERVIEW

What is Human? – One of the hottest trends in the pharma space to close out 2022 was the introduction and experimentation of Digital Humans. From medical education to extending the reach and accessibility of field reps, creating digital opinion leaders, scalable HCP communication, and dynamic patient-centric experiences connected to conversational AI. The ability to mix human and digital experiences to extend and scale through digital humans is a crucial trend for 2023.

CES 2023 – DeepBrain AI – Concierge

Digital Doppelgänger – A doppelgänger is a double of a living person. At CES 2023, the ability to create a digital replica took many forms. From quickly scanning your physical appearance for virtual experiences via Copresence, to capturing your likeness and memories via StoryFile, to creating digital reflections of your brain, heart, and eyes by Dassault Systèmes to enhance medical treatment. The role of digitally doubling oneself will be a pivotal on-ramp to future multi-modal experiences.

Dassault Systèmes Virtual Twin
StoryFile – Conversational AI built on Human narratives
CoPresence – Rapid Scanning & Real-Time Animation
DeepBrain AI – Digital Twin Celebrity Example

Empowered Wellness – In previous CES recaps, I have discussed the empowered consumer and a behaviorally driven expectation of control and personalization. In 2023, the focus has shifted towards empowered wellness. Many products, from wearables to gamified health experiences, tap into various personalized data sets that offer customized approaches to counteract fatigue, passively monitor glucose levels without needles, and deploy deep learning AI algorithms that combine computer vision and trend analysis to provide personalized nutrition plans via nail imaging analysis. Each entry in this category is focused on creating relevant, personalized experiences that enhance overall wellness.

Lotte Healthcare – Cazzle Personalization Engine

Care Anywhere – This year at CES 2023, digital health and therapeutic solutions were front and center. From technology that empowers a patient to direct control of treatment via light therapy to advanced remote care monitoring via AI-enabled wearables and sensors that can passively detect abnormalities tied to various disease states to predict health declines. Preventative care, at-home testing, portable clinical devices, passive adherence tracking, and more will continue to bridge the gap between at-home convenience and FDA-approved digital therapeutics.

Care Wear – LED Light Therapy

Robotic Companions – For me personally, physical robots have been a highlight for me at CES. I always seek out the latest robotic advancements, from toy-form factors, to utility-centric robots, to humanoid robots, as I look for the next evolution of emotive robotics. I view robotics as a core aspect of what I call the five levels of autonomy, and they will complement conversational AI as well as digital humans on the path toward a Westworld-like future. At CES 2023, one robot in particular bridged robotics with mental wellness and elder care. This robot provides emotional care services, serves as a companion, and offers various activities. The key point is that in addition to the hype around digital experiences, physical robots will also become proxies for customers, patients, and caregivers.

Robot-Based Emotional Care Services

There are many more takeaways from the show. There were trends tied to sustainability, new advancements in the automotive industry, and many more start-ups out of Eureka Park that are early stage but are providing a view into next year’s show. The role of digital health across CES, SXSW, and other shows will continue to rise as health and wellness are at the forefront of industry post pandemic.

Stay tuned for more trend and event recaps. Follow Tom @BlackFin360 across social channels.

2023 Trend Report

Over the last decade, BlackFin360 has consistently focused on trend forecasting. As we venture into 2023, the rapid convergence of technology takes center stage in both the business world and our everyday lives.

Our growing reliance on technology has been embraced, as it provides ease and convenience in return. We are now poised to advance to the next level of intelligence augmentation through various AI forms, revolutionizing internal processes, customer experiences, and the way we work, learn, and sift through the ever-increasing volume of content we consume daily.

The boundaries between the physical and digital realms are becoming increasingly indistinct as we reshape our understanding of reality, whether it be fully immersive, spatially cognizant, or via lifelike holograms. As the excitement surrounding the metaverse transitions into practical applications beyond mere entertainment, I envision a path towards genuine value creation.

Moreover, the past few years have seen significant behavioral changes. Emerging from a pandemic, our yearning for connection and our demand for personalization, engagement, and control infuse a human touch into a digital world dominated by ones and zeros.

Lastly, the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries are on the verge of profound transformation. The surge in patient-focused advertisements encouraging patients to influence prescribers’ decisions signifies this shift. As a result, the healthcare landscape is evolving to meet expectations of accessible care and the creation of experiences that enable multi-faceted storytelling.

All of this leads to the two foundational elements for the 2023 trend report. Human / Experience. (Message me for the key to view the full Trend Report).

THE HUMAN LAYER

The Human layer dives into all facets of control and empowerment of consumers, patients, caregivers, and HCPs with key examples and organizations enabling ease and convenience.

1 – Consumer Control – As humans, our behaviors are increasingly being shaped by technology, leading us to expect greater control. This section delves profoundly into the world of user-generated content and the emergence of algorithms centered on affinity and personal preferences.

2 – Community Engagement – In the aftermath of the pandemic, we’ve experienced a revitalized appreciation for belonging and community, spanning both digital and physical realms. This section explores the concepts of blended connections, online communities, genuine interactions, and inclusiveness.

3 – Care Anywhere – The notion of point of care is expanding to encompass any location with a camera and an internet connection. This section delves into intelligent devices, ranging from health-monitoring wearable tattoos to smartwatches that track Parkinson’s symptoms. There has been a considerable shift in FDA approvals and investments towards digital therapeutics (DTX). These digital-focused experiences provide patients with medical interventions through clinically evaluated, evidence-based software applications.

4 – Customizable Avatars – Avatars are evolving into representations of ourselves, whether they are photorealistic or stylized. Our capacity to personalize digital embodiments that effortlessly interact across diverse experiences is becoming the standard. This development, coupled with advancements in volumetric video capture, enables connection points that were previously unattainable for integrating oneself into digital surroundings.

5 – Decentralization & Transparency – The convergence of consumers’ quest for control and the inherent decentralization of Web 3.0 is paving the way for new approaches to brand loyalty and adherence programs. With an increased emphasis on data privacy and targeted content, consumers will seek mutually beneficial data exchanges that satisfy both parties’ needs.

THE EXPERIENCE LAYER

Here is a video walking through the Experience Layer portion of the 2023 trends.

The Experience layer blurs the lines between physical and digital reality with key examples and organizations ushering us into a digitally enhanced world.

6 – Extending Reality – Despite the relatively slow growth in consumer interest, augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies persist in their development. This section delves into the latest innovations in gaming, enterprise metaverse solutions such as Mytaverse, medical metaverse newcomers, and smart lens applications.

7 – Digital Humans – Synthetic humans are steadily supplanting conventional videos and chatbots. In the pharmaceutical industry, Digital Humans emerged as the top trend in presentations at the end of 2022. They offer the capability to expand a field sales force and establish an emotionally engaging starting point for navigating intricate patient journeys with key opinion leaders (KOLs). The potential to create connection points and avatar-focused content on a large scale is expected to further gather momentum in 2023.

8 – Holograms – The concept of establishing a presence without physical attendance is gaining traction, thanks to companies like Proto and ARHT Media. These firms enable multiple presenters to appear live before audiences as realistic holograms and engage in full interaction, creating a sense of connection even when not physically present.

9 – Scaling with AI – Artificial Intelligence is set to enable hyper-personalization and automation on a massive scale. This section examines the AI technologies that have influenced Hollywood and will shape the way we create experiences in 2023. It delves into the realm of generative AI, providing a comprehensive understanding of the role and workings of a prompt engineer.

10 – Hyper Realism – Hyperrealistic design is increasingly obscuring the boundaries between our digital and physical environments. This section explores its applications in retail experiences and cutting-edge healthcare technology, such as Level Ex, showcasing how these innovations are reshaping various industries.

The complete trend report is 70+ pages of examples of key concepts and the companies that are setting the stage for the next iteration of experiences we will begin to incorporate to transform all aspects of business incrementally.

View the full 2023 Human Experience Trend Report.
(Message me for the key to view the full Trend Report)

A very special thank you Adam Housley for your support in this endeavor.

In The News: Tips from Award Show Jurors

I recently had the opportunity to share with the Drum my tips for how to write an award entry that would get my attention and my vote.

I am looking forward to the 2022 Drum Awards and congrats to all of the nominees and soon to be winners.

The Drum Awards for Digital Industries rewards the best work, companies and people behind the most effective digital campaigns around the world.

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NAPSL 2022 KEYNOTE

NAPSL – EVOLUTION OF EXPERIENCE (KEYNOTE) – Indianapolis (July 2022) I had the pleasure of delivering my innovation to reality keynote for the National American Association of State and Provincial Lottery’s annual conference.

The keynote has been revamped, and I have evolved the core format of Empower, Exponential, and Enhanced by also adding Experience. All with the same trademark of infusing pop culture as a lead-in to understanding complex topics. From Star Wars, Fortnite, Roblox, Pixar, The Matrix, Stranger Things, Minority Report, West World, and so much more.


Empower is all about understanding that consumers are in control. Their expectations are radically transforming how business is done. This section covers all facets of GenZ, gaming, introduction to the Metaverse, Ethereum, NFTs, POAPs, the evolving role of the camera, how to identify a fad vs. trend, and the rise of private messaging, and how the camera is a bridge to intelligence.

Exponential is all about ease and convenience as the core motivation for adopting intelligent systems. This section covers the basics of AI, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, understanding algorithms, why we are in the golden age of AI, predictive decisioning, generative models, five levels of autonomy, digital humans, virtual assistants, and the rise of the proxy web.

Enhanced is all about perception between physical and digital and how and when technology will adapt to us vs. us adapting to it. This section dives deeper into the Metaverse, the role of computer vision, digital synths, multi-modal interfaces, digital twins, holograms, synthetic reality, and my prediction of when we will see multi-modal at scale.

Experience is an entirely new section that helps the audience understand how to think about emerging trend territories and how it applies to their business, from understanding how digital channels and behaviors have evolved to how they can personally take steps to better understand the world around them. This section ends with a practical how-to section that provides deeper introductions to the topics of the Metaverse, Ethereum, NFTs, AI, Digital Humans, and Emerging Tech.

I am excited to be back on stage and the future is crystalizing before our eyes. It’s an exciting time and I love educating and inspiring through technology.

A special thank you to the NAPSL team for a great event!

2022 Evolution of Experience Live Keynote

This week I had an opportunity to travel to Maui, Hawaii, to deliver the newly revamped Evolution of Experience keynote. Besides the amazing setting next to the beautiful Maui shoreline, the crowd was fantastic as we dove into some of the latest trends redefining consumer expectations for all industries.


The keynote has been revamped, and I have evolved the core format of Empower, Exponential, and Enhanced by also adding Experience. All with the same trademark of infusing pop culture as a lead-in to understanding complex topics. From Star Wars, Fortnite, Roblox, Pixar, The Matrix, Stranger Things, Minority Report, West World, and so much more.


Empower is all about understanding that consumers are in control. Their expectations are radically transforming how business is done. This section covers all facets of GenZ, gaming, introduction to the Metaverse, Ethereum, NFTs, POAPs, the evolving role of the camera, how to identify a fad vs. trend, and the rise of private messaging, and how the camera is a bridge to intelligence.

Exponential is all about ease and convenience as the core motivation for adopting intelligent systems. This section covers the basics of AI, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, understanding algorithms, why we are in the golden age of AI, predictive decisioning, generative models, five levels of autonomy, digital humans, virtual assistants, and the rise of the proxy web.

Enhanced is all about perception between physical and digital and how and when technology will adapt to us vs. us adapting to it. This section dives deeper into the Metaverse, the role of computer vision, digital synths, multi-modal interfaces, digital twins, holograms, synthetic reality, and my prediction of when we will see multi-modal at scale.

Experience is an entirely new section that helps the audience understand how to think about emerging trend territories and how it applies to their business, from understanding how digital channels and behaviors have evolved to how they can personally take steps to better understand the world around them. This section ends with a practical how-to section that provides deeper introductions to the topics of the Metaverse, Ethereum, NFTs, AI, Digital Humans, and Emerging Tech.

I am excited to be back on stage and the future is crystalizing before our eyes. It’s an exciting time and I love educating and inspiring through technology.

A special thank you to the WSADA team for a great event!

Truth Be Told – Future of Data

This episode features an interview with Tom Edwards, Chief Digital and Data Officer at Omnicom Health Group, the largest healthcare marketing and communications network in the world. Prior to Omnicom, Tom served as Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Epsilon. Tom has been named one of the Top 50 Most Influential Business Leaders in Technology and a Top 10 Global Marketer Award winner by OnCon this year.

On this episode, Tom talks about transparency in decision making, how to organize massive amounts of data in order to derive insights, and how to determine the ideal communication strategy for a target audience.

Here are the various links for the podcast

Apple Podcasts
Spotify
Google Podcasts
Simplecast
TruthBeKnownPodcast.com

Timestamp Breakdown

*[3:38] Merging Digital and Data

*[5:10] Making the most out of data assets

*[6:38] How to strategically enable teams

*[8:03] Predictive decisioning and the cookieless future

*[9:30] Making massive data sets actionable

*[11:47] Omnicom Health Group’s data architecture and tech stack

*[15:27] Creating common language across the organization

*[20:13] Looking to partner with leaders in data-driven organizations

*[23:14] Preparing for a shifting data landscape

*[26:24] The importance of transparency as a leader

*[29:23] Finding a mentor and sponsor

Preview of Podcast

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 across social platforms.

Evolution of Experience Keynote – NextPharma

I recently had the opportunity to deliver the opening keynote for the Vii Health Next Pharma Summit AI & Personalization Masterclass event.

I presented the full evolution of experience and how to shift towards an experience mindset keynote. The talk highlighted how emerging technology and consumer behavior blur the line between physical and digital reality and will end on how you and your organization can prepare for accelerated change.

Here is the fully produced talk.

Previews of the event.

Follow Tom Edwards across social platforms @BlackFin360

AI & CX Masterclass

I am excited to deliver the opening keynote for the NEXT Pharma summit AI & CX masterclass powered by ViiHealth.

The event kicks off on October 20th, with my keynote following shortly after the open. The event will take place over the 20th and 21st and will be delivered via an immersive 3D experience.

I will be presenting the evolution of experience and how to shift towards an experience mindset. This talk will highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior blur the line between physical and digital reality and will end on how you and your organization can prepare for accelerated change.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 across social channels

Judging The 2021 Drum Awards

It was an absolute pleasure to work with an incredible judging panel for the 2021 Drum Awards for Digital Industries. It was interesting to do this as a hybrid with some judges in person in the UK and the rest virtually but it worked seamlessly.

I had the privilege to judge the Best Digital Media Strategy, Best Website Design, Most Effective Use of AI/Machine Learning, Technical Innovation, and the Grand Prix award for best in show.

Best of luck to all of the nominees, and congratulations to the winners.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 across social platforms.

2021 MARsum Top 100 Award

I am very grateful to be recognized as a Top 100 Marketing and Advertising Leader during the 2021 MARsum Marketing, Advertising & Retail Summit. When I receive recognition such as this I am very thankful for the support of my wife, family, teammates, and everyone in my network.

A full list of industry awards and over 100+ recommendations are available here.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 via InstagramTwitterYoutube, & Twitch.

OMC Hive Podcast

This is my second stint with Omnicom. The people, culture, and data platform Omni are a big reason why I came back. I sit down with the OMC Hive Podcast to discuss why Omnicom, what’s Omni Health, the future of tech, and fun things like mascots, #gaming, the military, and more.

In this episode, Tom Edwards, Chief Digital Officer of Omnicom Health group, talks about his background, the launch of Omni Health and what it means for our people and clients, and what exactly brought him back to Omnicom.

You’d be hard-pressed to put Tom into a box. From launching some of the first in-game content tied to the web to jumping out of planes in the Army, he’s finally landed at Omnicom Health Group.

But his diverse career trajectory is serving him well, as his background across industries and from his first stint at Omnicom at The Marketing Arm allow him to weave together data, creative, and a little bit of fun.

Plus, hear the stories behind these awesome photos and learn what to look out for when you’re predicting the next big thing in tech.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 via Twitter, Instagram, Youtube

2021 Top 10 Marketer Award

I was incredibly humbled to be recognized as a 2021 OnCon Icon Top 10 Global Marketer award winner. I am truly appreciative of everyone who supported my nomination. There were 150 overall nominees and the support of my network really delivered this top 10 award and I am so grateful.

I am very grateful to have been a part of the 2021 OnCon Icon awards and would highly recommend nominating your peers for potential recognition in 2022. I am also very thankful for the support of my wife of 20+ years. I wouldn’t receive this type of recognition without her contributions and personal sacrifice. Thanks again to everyone and to Sean Tomarelli for putting on such a great and memorable show.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 via Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin

2020 Digital Marketing Professional Award

I was incredibly humbled to be recognized as the 2020 Digital Marketing Professional of the Year during the recent CX Digital Summit. When I receive recognition such as this I am very thankful for the support of my wife, family, teammates, and everyone in my network.

2020 CX Digital Summit

Next up are the 2021 OnCon Icon Awards in January where a number of you voted and I am incredibly appreciative of your support. Beyond that I am also being recognized by MADCON in 2021 and hopeful we can get back to in-person events by mid-2021.

I am thankful for the recognition and excited to close out a chaotic 2020 and look forward to 2021 and what’s possible!

2020 Digital Marketing Professional of the Year (Global) – Recognized during the 2020 India CX Digital Summit as the Digital Marketing Professional of the Year.

A full list of industry awards and over 100+ recommendations are available here.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 via InstagramTwitterYoutube, & Twitch.

2020 CX Digital Summit

I recently had the opportunity to speak to an amazing Indian audience during the 2020 CX Digital Summit. I delivered an updated version of the Innovation To Reality Keynote focusing on CX and how consumer behavior drives engagement.

The talk focused on the impact of Gen Z consumer behavior and their expectations tied to the camera as a bridge to intelligence. Then, we discussed what I consider the five levels of autonomy and how CX experiences will evolve at each stage. Finally, we dive into the behavioral drivers that will create the shift from mobile being the primary way we interact with technology to our environment adapting to us.

It’s fun to deliver keynotes at 1 am! It’s worth the lack of sleep to engage with audiences across the globe!


Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 via InstagramTwitterYoutube, & Twitch.

Virtually Speaking Episode #24

I have enjoyed working with Cal Entertainment founder Chris Lee for years as I am an exclusive speaker for Cal Entertainment. We sit down for a fun discussion that covers a lot of ground. We talk about trends across data, AI, gaming, spatial computing, new form factors beyond mobile, as well as some fun with Funko Pops.

1:48 – Introduction and opening statements tied to trends.
3:05 – Creating experiences that go beyond desktop and mobile.
4:10 – Tour of Matrix-inspired office.
4:42 – Awards & BlackFin360.
7:12 – Voice ecosystem and thoughts on Google, Amazon, and Apple.
8:24 – Discuss virtual proxies & how assistants will evolve.
12:00 – How should business leaders think about integrating tech and trends into their existing business with a focus on value creation.
12:50 – The new 4 Ps to consider for marketers.
14:50 – What about small business owners? What do they need to look at?
18:36 – How to apply AI & Machine learning to understand affinities and behaviors.
19:44 – Thoughts on ownership of data.
20:17 – The role of AI & it’s not the enemy via the Pixar Theory
24:15 – Digital Simulation.
25:50 – What about search beyond desktop & mobile? The role of the Google knowledge graph.
27:06 – Moving beyond mobile devices & the rise of smart glasses.
28:14 – Smart contacts are the future.
30:10 – The rise of gaming & how to align with business.
31:55 – What brands should be in gaming?
35:00 – Creating authentic connections.
37:48 – Digital twins & the proxy twin hypothesis.
41:08 – Forecasting trends.
42:18 – Data, experiences, ethics.
45:20 – Blockchain & Industries like Healthcare, Financial Services.
46:55 – Digital rights management
47:30 – Closing thoughts

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your next event, please book with Chris Lee via chris@calentertainment.com or call 877-300-1888 ext. 101.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 via Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, & Twitch.

2020 Immersive Tech Digital Summit

I recently had the opportunity to deliver a keynote to an Indian audience during the first Immersive Tech Digital Summit. It’s a new experience to give a full keynote at 3 AM US time, but the crowd’s interaction made it a fun experience.

I delivered an updated version of the Innovation to Reality talk focusing on new trends, pop culture references, and frameworks for the application of technology to enhance business growth.

I also had the opportunity to lead a comprehensive augmented reality workshop featuring industry case studies and a deep dive into platforms and frameworks.

I am looking forward to my next masterclass session on December 5th for the India CX Digital Summit. It’s exciting to continue to expand thought leadership around the globe.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 via Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch

Innovation To Reality Recap

Leo Clifford of the Telco Global Forum wrote a recap of my recent Innovation To Reality talk here it is reposted below.

Empower. Exponential. Enhanced. These are the three words that Tom Edwards of Blackfin360 – a data-driven digitally centric marketing technology executive and professional futurist speaker – uses to describe the evolution of experience as the innovation scene evolves. He calls it ‘innovation to reality.’ Tom recently spoke at the Telco Global Forum event. In his talk, he mentions them as elements that can help drive business and digital transformation.

“Empower is all about consumer behavior influencing technology. Exponential is all about the role that intelligence systems are going to play. And Enhance is all about simulation. These are the foundational elements to align consumer behavior and emerging technology and its impact on business and digital transformation.”

– Tom Edwards

Understanding consumer behavior and how that impacts experiences

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For Tom, it starts with understanding consumer behavior and how it affects technology. He estimates that 40 percent of the consumer market consists of Generation Z – the demographic of people born between the years 1996 and 2010. “They are the first mobile-first generation. They learn to swipe before they learn to speak. Businesses must understand that affinity and behavior and how it affects technology.” He says.

Today, we are heading to an age of emerging technologies that these consumers will interface with daily, and it is vital to understand how to connect with them at these various points. One popular emerging technology is the voice assistant technology installed on phones.

Alexa, Google, etc. are the first stage of autonomy in intelligent systems. From the research Tom has done across generations, one particular thing is consistent about why people will adopt intelligence systems into their everyday lives. “That is ease and convenience,” he says. These systems serve as delegates onto which people can delegate simple tasks. So they serve as a bridge between consumers and businesses such that ultimately, the mobile device will no longer be the primary means of interacting with technology. Therefore, organizations need to examine these systems and figure out how to communicate and have conversational experiences with them. 

Tom expects that an increase of these proxy-like systems will “require understanding how to provoke emotions from systems” as it is quite different from humans because we will be moving from a human consumer-centric way of marketing to one that is system-based.

How to prepare and what to expect 

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Businesses have data assets they possess and manage internally. The first step is understanding these assets. However, that is not enough. According to Tom, “90% of the information around consumers is unstructured”. They are found on the open web and in conversations online. Artificial intelligence can play a role in expediting the understanding of what is happening. Lastly, businesses want to understand intent signals. These are indicators that identify users who are actively reaching their line of products, and it is tied to search history. Ultimately, businesses want to make sure that they structure data in such a way that they are consequential across not only traditional search but voice ecosystems and spatial computing. All of these things are interconnected. Therefore, it is vital to have a thorough understanding of what information is available, what is usable, and why. 

The role data and intelligent systems will play in the near future

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In the voice assistance technology sector, Google wants to make the assistant in such a way that tasks are set up as real-life scenes, thus turning the whole delegation activity into a seamless experience for the user. An example of this is Google Duplex – a new technology woven into the Google Assistant – that reserved an appointment and rented a car! Tom postulates that with systems like these evolving, what we will begin to see is a virtual assistant acting as preference centers.

With the ever-present connectivity that the emergence of 5G networks will provide, edge computing – i.e., location of information processing where people produce or consume that information – in the form of building smart cities that can process data locally and instantaneously will become a reality. While the focus has been on the disruption happening in various industries as a result of these different technologies, it will move to the convergence of these intelligent systems, which will be powered by artificial intelligence that is fuelled by data. That data is what is going to enhance the experiences as they evolve. Training the machine learning models that drive these technologies will involve tons of data so that they can further improve user experiences. 

Prepare to make the shift from mobile devices

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Eventually, it is not going to be enough to create experiences for traditional desktop and mobile in digital marketing. Voice, vision, and touch are the new modalities that will drive the future of experience, and these are what businesses will need to pay attention to succeed. 

In light of these new modalities that are poised to drive the future of experience and digital marketing in businesses, how do you adopt these emerging technologies in your organization? “I follow a 70 to 20 to 10 kind of approach,” Tom advises. Seventy percent of your investment should be on tried and tested technologies that are going to stimulate business and digital transformation, 20 percent for technologies that are novel but you can prove some type of return based on the core objective you are trying to apply and 10 percent or less for technologies you are making educated guesses. 

“It is incredibly important to have a three-year road map,” he adds. In addition to the traditional four Ps – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion – of marketing strategy, he includes four additional Ps, namely, Plan, Predictive, Proxy, and Pervasive. Plan refers to your data strategy. Predictive involves knowing that data is going to drive a lot of predictive decision making that will get to a point where it can predict human behavior and subsequently lead to the third P, Proxy. Proxy involves understanding that virtual assistants will become proxies or deputies, communicating, and interacting with each other on our behalf, scheduling, and handling tasks. Lastly, Pervasive, you want to understand that you are designing experiences — pervasive experiences — namely touch, vision, and voice that will go beyond traditional desktop and mobile.

In summary, it is about doing what is working today. Next, examine the future experiences that are going to influence behavior and drive business and digital transformation that this article has discussed. Look out for use cases in other industries that you can apply to your business based on your objective and experiment. Finally, review what the 90 percent of your investment has accomplished, what is ultimately coming, and make educated bets on other technologies you want to explore.

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Tom’s Innovation to Reality talk is available here at the Telco Global Forum.

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If you’d like to contact Tom Edwards directly you can find him Here at Blackfin360 or linkedin.com/in/tedwards

Passion Drives Performance Keynote

Wow! It felt good to be back on stage with a socially distant audience. Yes, I wore a mask on stage per the organizer’s policy, but it was great to be in person! This was a bespoke talk designed to motivate future business & technology, men & women.

The talk covered how a passion for gaming, marketing, and technology, has shaped my career journey. This discussion was more personal and reflective than futurist, but I wanted to provide insights into how various passions have shaped my perspective and translated to driving business performance.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 via Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, and Twitter

Telco Global Forum 2020

I will be speaking on the topic of innovation to reality during the upcoming Telco Global Forum online event. The event runs from September 2nd – 4th, 2020.

Get your free pass today: https://www.telcoglobalforum.com/?usr=14

You’ll learn from an incredible lineup including myself and over 20 technology leaders sharing their #1 tactics on digital transformation challenges: 

  • Innovation To Reality, creating experiences for a digitally simulated reality
  • Avoiding edge hype and understanding the real economics of public edge cloud
  • Capturing the attention and the interest of your customers for 5G success
  • How to build a service-oriented one-stop-shop for consumers and enterprises – bundling connectivity, security, and privacy
  • Emerging technology & 5G
  • Building AI-driven Telco organization

And much more…

See you soon!

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 via Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch

Business Access Podcast Episode 15

I recently had the opportunity to join Thiago Desouza on his Business Access Podcast. We had an incredibly in-depth conversation across a variety of topics. From passions that have driven my career, technology, and marketing impact post-pandemic, gaming, GenZ, generational gaps, and the future of consumer experience. Timestamps and topics below.

Episode 15 of Business Access

1:25 – Tom Edwards Career Overview 

  • Smooth Fusion (Microsoft)
  • Telligent (Electronic Arts)
  • INgage Networks (Chief Marketing Officer) 
  • Omnicom (Strategy Leader – Red Urban, The Marketing Arm)
  • Epsilon (Chief Digital & Innovation Officer) 
  • Tripleclix (Chief Marketing Officer)

2:50 – Discussing Core Passions

  • Star Wars & the droids and how the technology-enabled the adventures
  • Gaming in the 1980s 
  • 90’s Computer Hardware 
  • Marketing, Technology, Gaming are core passions

4:10 – Where are we today technology wise compared to Star Wars? 

  • No longer disruption as a new normal
  • All about convergence, AI, predictive decisioning, virtual assistant proxies, simulation at scale

6:15 – How does it feel when you create a pathway to success for a client? 

  • Love to align technology + consumer experience hits a cultural inflection point
  • EA Skate example. The first instance of in-game content posted to the web in the mid-2000s
  • Discuss Data & AI work while at Epsilon
  • Goes well beyond a transaction, it’s about creating value as a partner

8:30 – Discuss Professional Speaking & Innovation to Reality

  • How technology will evolve and how we will move from the mobile device to our environment adapting to us through the lens of pop-culture
  • Empower – technology that enables consumers
  • Exponential – intelligent systems
  • Enhance – proxies to full simulation 
  • Discuss GenZ, gaming, expectations of technology and how experiences are evolving

11:00 – How do you feel technology is going to advance post COVID pandemic? 

  • Less about a single use case and application, and more about how technology enables work that isn’t in a physical location
  • New consumer decision journey… Disruption, Acceptance, What’s next
  • Acceleration of work from anywhere, have worked remotely for over 5 years
  • Sparks of inspiration occur at different times of the day. 

14:33 – What can businesses do and where should they focus post pandemic? 

  • Focus on core consumer needs 
  • Reflect & reset corporate strategy, especially digitally
  • The role that data plays
  • Developing new capabilities 
  • Forecast demand by geography & audience segments 
  • Discuss the cycle of demand 
  • What’s next… How does physical retail compete with online? 

18:00 – Communication, Communication, Communication is vital… 

  • Maintaining communication and connection is key
  • 71% of consumers stated if brands put profit over people they would lose faith in the brand forever 
  • It’s important to communicate, but also how are you easing disruption
  • Content strategy, building it around how creating value, balance selling vs. supporting 
  • Reacting vs. strategically planning

21:30 – How have international businesses been responding? 

  • US quantity based
  • Bolivia case study/hand sanitizer example

23:00 – Across industries, what techniques and methods work well broadly? 

  • Mapped career against the rising flow of technology & culture
    • Mid 2000’s social computing
    • Then consumer social strategy
    • Data & AI 
    • Next is gaming…

26:15 – Generational Gap & Gaming

29:00 – Experiences like Pokémon Go prep future adoption

  • Training a generation 
  • GenZ expectations of technology & behaviors such as mixing reality is becoming second nature 

30:30 – What happened to Google Glass? What’s next? 

  • Was an early adopter
  • When it initially launched we weren’t in the midst of a creator society
  • It was also about form factor… looking at patents and future tech, look and feel will be extensions of style
  • Apple, Samsung, and others will move us towards a smart contact
  • Ubiquitous tech + constant connectivity via 5G will drive adoption of new form factors 

33:30 – If a client/business asks how can I make it happen? 

  • Not enough time spent on the behavioral side
  • Single persona vs. affinity iterations & personality types 
  • How does that come together and finding the right levers to connect with individuals in a meaningful way
  • Easier to look at it from a media perspective vs. using AI as a driver to truly differentiate the experience via structured & unstructured data
  • Esports sponsorship… “Marketing with to games is fine, but connecting authentically is a different approach” – Chris Erb. 

36:55 – The role of personal branding 

  • The accelerator of success was my blog… 600 posts later, how you think, what you have done, and having a content repository is key 

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7 Tips To Prep For Keynotes & Public Speaking

Recently, I was talking to an industry associate and he referenced this topic and video. I have been speaking professionally for years now and this is the process I go through in advance of taking the stage and I thought it was worth resharing.

By focusing your time and effort on knowing your audience, framing and refining your story and following these 7 tips, you will be well prepared to take the stage and deliver a great presentation.

Tom Edwards, Tech Titan Technology Advocate Technology Winner,  Ad Age Marketing Technology Trailblazer and TEDx speaker shares 7 tips about preparing for TEDx or any major public speaking event.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

Digital Transformation, Brand Marketing & COVID-19

I recently had the opportunity to discuss how to thrive in the time of COVID-19 from brand marketing, digital transformation, research on consumer behavior, and more.

This is the first part of a two-part discussion with Andy Frawley, CEO @ V12, & Anders Ekman, President @ V12. This discussion focuses on how channels have shifted due to the pandemic. Upcoming discussions will focus on how to market during this time and ultimately, how to recover.

Below is a recap of topics along with timestamps.

2:00 – Andy Frawley discusses themes for how brands are addressing consumer engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3:00 – Tom Edwards provides a brief background, discusses impact across industries and categories. From shifting consumer behavior, and how brands have adjusted their approach.

4:45 – Tom Edwards outlines the importance of a holistic view of consumers, discusses research tied to consumer behavior, and the importance of focusing on providing value to consumer’s daily lives vs. influencing feelings.

6:00 – Andy Frawley discusses the role of digital transformation during COVID-19.

7:45 – Anders Ekman outlines his view on digital transformation, impact on automotive, experiential learnings, and how to reset.

8:45 – Tom Edwards discusses the impact on B2B marketing, conferences, events, and how brands are developing their COVID-19 responses, as well the importance to focus on retooling for the new normal through data.

10:30 – Andy Frawley discusses how he has accelerated and retooled V12 and their products to support brands to understand who is in the market for products and services.

12:15 – Tom Edwards discusses the role of data and digital engagement. The importance of affinity and intent. The decrease in organic search and how data-driven marketing, regional affinities, and messaging needs to adjust to connect quickly to capitalize.

15:00 – Tom discusses market themes from COVID-19 response, 2021 strategy, and the role of partnerships, strategic acquisitions, and developing new capabilities.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 – Youtube, Twitter, Instagram

Follow Andy Frawley, AndersEkman, and V12

Futurithmic 2020 5G Event Recaps & What’s Next

Today, Futurithmic published my latest article outlining key 5G events in 2020. What we have seen so far and what we should expect as the year unfolds. From CES, The Super Bowl, to the canceled Mobile World Congress 2020 in Barcelona.

We explore how 5G impacted the shows and cultural moments so far in 2020 while also outlining the key events to come later in the year that will ultimately shape the role of 5G in advancing consumer experiences.

Read the full article at Futurithmic

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter

2020 OnCon Icon Top 50 Marketer Award

I was recently recognized by OnConferences 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.

Follow Tom @BlackFin on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

Tom Edwards Q&A with EDgage Magazine

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.

This is a repost of the full interview.

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.

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Fortnite & StarWars Redefining Marketing

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.

JJ Abrams via an avatar getting the crowd ready.

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!

Fully interactive experience.

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.

Countdown to the start of the event.

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.

The Game Awards 2019 announcement.

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.

About to reveal the clip.

Next came the interactive quizzes predicting what we were about to see.

This was fun as it determined the color of your lightsaber… purple of course for Mace Windu!

Finally, an actual clip from The Rise of Skywalker IN-GAME!

Rey, Fin, and Poe ready for action #JediMindTrick

The event ended with lightsabers and blaster rifles now being available to all players in the game.

Love the introduction of lightsabers into 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.

Marshmello EDM goodness.

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.

I am gliding into the map courtesy of my TIE whisper glider.

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.

The man, the myth, the legend… Chris Erb, founder of TripleClix.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 at YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram

Follow TripleClix @TripleClix

Futurithmic 5G Articles – Live Entertainment

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. 

a man watching a college football game through VR goggles
The author watches a college football game through VR goggles for enhanced game graphics. 

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. 

5G Over-the-top

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.  

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 via Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram

Follow @Futurithmic



Futurithmic Podcast – Tom Edwards

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.

Tom Edwards – Futurithmic Episode 10

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

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 via YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or connect via Linkedin

Path To Purchase Expo 2019 Keynote

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.

Here is a link to the final presentation. Book Tom for your event today

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on InstagramTwitterYouTube & connect via Linkedin.

Mobile World Congress 2019 Trend Recap

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.

Tom Edwards Mobile World Congress 2019 Recap

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.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube

DFWIMA Headliner Keynote

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.

Here is a link to the final presentation. Book Tom for your event today

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube & connect via Linkedin.

Headliner Keynote – Industry 4.0

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.

Here is a link to download the full presentation.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram

2019 Tech Titans Technology Advocate Award

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.

Thank you to the Tech Titans organization, sponsors, judges, thank you to Marianne Strobel for the warm welcome from Nokia, the Dallas Business Journal for their coverage and support of the event and finally to the other deserving finalists.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 via YouTube, Instagram, Twitter

Dallas Business Journal Tech Titan Interview

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.

Here is a repost of the full article

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.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 via YouTube, Twitter, Instagram

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.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube

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.

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

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

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

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

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!

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360