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

No alt text provided for this image

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 

No alt text provided for this image

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

No alt text provided for this image

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

No alt text provided for this image

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.

No alt text provided for this image

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

No alt text provided for this image

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

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… 500 posts later, how you think, what you have done, and having a content repository is key 

Follow Tom via YouTube, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, and Twitch.

All Business Show Interview w/Jeffrey Hayzlett

I had the distinct pleasure to join Jeffrey Hayzlett on the All Business show. We had a great conversation discussing topics such as marketing and advertising shifts due to COVID19, shifts in consumer behavior, adaptive digital strategy, the role of AI, gaming + marketing, connecting with GenZ, emerging technology, and 2020 trends.

1:30 – Discuss how brands (w/ examples) are shifting marketing and advertising due to COVID19?

8:00 – Discuss how the consumer decision journey has evolved for everyone.

12:00 – Discuss gaming + marketing = Tripleclix.

15:30 – Discuss behaviors that impact technology adoption.

18:10 – Thoughts on marketers attending live events in 2020.

19:40 – Technologies that lead us into the near future.

The audio podcast version just posted as well via All Business Show.

All Business #237 – 1st Guest Tom Edwards

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

Follow Jeffrey @JeffreyHayzlett

Digital Transformation, Marketing, & COVID-19 Part II

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 second part of a discussion with Andy Frawley, CEO @ V12, & Anders Ekman, President @ V12. This discussion focuses on strategies required to recover and retool due to the pandemic.

Below is a recap of topics along with timestamps.

:15 – Andy Frawley – Discusses Supply Chain & Cost Reduction vs. Go-To-Market Strategies.

1:50 – Anders Ekman – Impact of COVID-19 on organic web activity, the role of online signals and WebID.

3:15  – Tom Edwards – How organizations can reset. 1) Focus on core consumer need 2) Redefining core digital strategy 3) Data sources informing an adaptive strategy to retool and have a faster recovery.

4:45 – Andy Frawley –  Outlines the role of adaptive email.

6:30 – Anders Ekman – Discusses speed, disconnected data sets, and importance of connectivity.

7:15 – Tom Edwards – Discusses the importance of a unified view of consumers and connecting with the right partners while maintaining speed and efficiency.

8:45 – Andy Frawley – Discusses the role of CDP’s and integration post COVID-19.

10:50 – Andy Frawley – Role of V12 accelerating change.

12:00 – Tom Edwards – The role of performance based marketing moving forward.

13:15 – Tom Edwards – Blend of paid vs. organic content strategy.

15:00 – Tom Edwards – Views and predictions for marketing in the next six months.

16:32 – Andy Frawley – Views and predictions for marketing in the next six months.

18:00 – Anders Ekman – The role of analytics post pandemic.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 – YoutubeTwitterInstagram

Follow Andy FrawleyAndersEkman, and V12

Quarantine Doesn’t Mean Isolation for Gamers

Futurithmic published my latest article covering how GenZ is thriving in quarantine. GenZ is more comfortable with physical isolation. They were part of the first mobile-first generation, and they learned to swipe on a device before they learned to speak.

Connecting with friends through Facetime, or through Discord while playing their favorite games is second nature for them and quarantine will feel like an extended vacation to connect with friends and dive deeper into all forms of entertainment, especially gaming.

This article references how the gaming industry is responding to increased demand, network strains in online gaming, and examples for how different entities are adapting to shift from physical events to digital.

Read the full article at Futurithmic

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on YouTubeInstagram, and Twitter

Tom Edwards Joins Tripleclix as CMO

I am pleased to announce that I have joined the leadership team of Tripleclix. I have known the founder of Tripleclix, Chris Erb for over a decade and he’s the best in the business at partnership and lifestyle marketing. I am incredibly excited to combine my passion for gaming, marketing, and brand strategy to drive growth and elevate the Tripleclix brand as CMO.

Tripleclix is a strategic gaming agency focused on developing marketing partners for game publishers while helping brands navigate the gaming industry. With over 60 years of industry experience, the agency specializes in building strategy, promotions, original content, and lifestyle marketing by combining publisher driven gaming content with innovative and iconic brands. Tripleclix acts as the connective tissue through which brands, publishers, and consumers interact.

Be sure to visit Tripleclix.com to check out all of the amazing work created by this team!

Here is the full press release.

Appreciate the pickup from sources such as AdAge.

Thanks to everyone in my network that engaged with the announcement. I am incredibly appreciative for all of the support!

Thanks again and please follow @Tripleclix on Twitter & Instagram

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

Futurithmic 5G Articles – Enhanced Entertainment

I have the pleasure of working with the Futurithmic team to write a number of articles in 2020discussing the future of 5G and it’s potential impact on various forms of entertainment.

This article explores how 5G will evolve experiences within theme parks and exhibits, enhance wayfinding through computer vision and augmented reality, enable enhanced proximity-based content experiences, digital simulation, and ultimately enhance movie theaters.

This is the second in the series and here is a link to the full article on Futurithmic.com

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on YouTubeInstagram, 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.

Follow @BlackFin360 via Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube

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.

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

In The News: Ad Age & Google Android OS

I recently provided commentary to Advertising Age discussing the recent shift in naming convention for Google’s operating system from dessert-themed names to a more traditional numbering system as well as commentary on the new Google Android branding.

Tom Edwards, chief innovation officer at agency Epsilon, says that “although the dessert names and the subsequent tie-ins to different snack brands was charming, it was difficult for consumers to track changes from one version to the next.” He adds: “Moving to a number-based system gives visual cues on the current version while also building urgency to upgrade.” 

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 via YouTube, Instagram or 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

In The News: Mixer, Ninja & Brands

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

Here is my full commentary RE: Mixer & Ninja’s Move.

ADAGE – WHAT DOES MIXER DO BETTER THAN TWITCH?

TOM: I have personally been streaming via Mixer (TheBlackFin) much longer than Twitch. I actually preferred Mixer over Twitch as I was primarily an Xbox console gamer and the close integration with the Xbox interface was a great way to quickly and easily stream. You also get USB camera support with Mixer vs Twitch on Xbox. 

One of my personal favorite features that Twitch actually just recently rolled out only to Twitch partners is co-streaming. This allows up to four players to stream to a single location. So if you are running a full squad in a first-person shooter you can let your viewers see each player’s POV.

The other feature that I really like is Mixer focuses on time and interactivity vs. just currency to support streamers. Interactivity between streamer and audience is key, allowing your viewers to help direct key decisions.

Mixer’s recent platform update introduced a number of key elements to support time on platform that converts to support for streamers vs. using direct cash so the motivation to naturally engage longer on the platform is a key point of difference. Basically, the cost to the user is less about spending dollars but dedicating your time to show support.

With Mixer, they allow streamers to offer special controls to their viewers, like use X weapon against the boss and allow them to vote. This has been one of Mixer’s biggest points of difference from day one. 

RE: Money, Twitch has badges, emotes, and you can have ad-free streams by subscribing to a streamer as well as subscriber-only mode but all of this is directly tied to cash. You are essentially buying accessibility. With Mixer its more about time. The platform rewards viewers for spending time on the platform. Viewers earn all types of virtual rewards just for watching including the key currency Sparks, which allows you to have interactivity with streams. 

Mixer does now have a premium currency similar to Twitch that allows users to support streamers called Embers, but it’s not required for interactivity whereas with Twitch its pay to play. 

ADAGE – HOW IS MIXER POSITIONING ITSELF WITH BRANDS?

TOM: Mixer brings in around 20 million visitors every month and these are key demographics that brands want to connect with but the ability for a brand to partner directly with Mixer to drive a connection, create a co-branded experience and advertise directly through Mixer is not a viable option at the moment. It looks like Mixer is taking steps to drive more active engagement through the platform and as the audience continues to grow and engage it will eventually open up more direct opportunities for brands directly.

Without an advertising model across Mixer it’s more about the individual relationships with streamers and brands directly, similar to Ninja’s Red Bull sponsorship and product placement in his streams.

Mixer is not directly positioning with brands yet. They are solely focused on growing the community and providing authentic invaluable content for consumers. Ad revenue and the structure around it is future state.

ADAGE – WHAT IS THE AD BUYING PROCESS LIKE? 

TOM: No ad buying process on Mixer, brands have to take an “influencer” style approach to reaching audiences on Mixer, that’s through the individual streamers vs. through the platform.

ADAGE – EARLY DAYS, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING/HEARING IN TERMS OF PRICE VS. PERFORMANCE WHEN BUYING ON MIXER?  

TOM: No price vs. performance as of yet, but moving forward I would keep a close eye on how Mixer evolves the platform as the shifts and changes they are making are setting up for engagement as a core KPI. Also, all of the positioning and having Mixer in the center of how gaming will evolve with cloud-based services, xCloud, Scarlett (Next Box) and cloud services, Mixer might be an upstart compared to Twitch and YouTube, but they are sitting in a great position on the coming horizon and bringing Ninja over is a good commitment to kick-starting their move towards taking share.

ADAGE: WHY IS MIXER INVESTING IN NINJA?

TOM: Ninja made a lot of sense, not because he is the “best” gamer today as he is not at the top of current players, but his name recognition, ESPN cover athlete and recognition is key to drive buzz around the exclusivity and impact of the deal. Ninja has primarily been a PC player, so for Ninja this makes sense as it pulls in a different audience segment as Mixer has primarily been a Microsoft/Xbox streaming service so it drives more direct connection with console gamers.

Also, Microsoft is focused on blurring the lines of gaming moving forwards between PC and Console players. With xCloud, Xbox Game Pass that opens up cloud-based libraries of games for both PC & Console, it makes a lot of sense to begin to build towards positioning with exclusivity with Ninja.

ADAGE – IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

TOM: All of the positioning and having Mixer in the center of how gaming will evolve with cloud-based services, xCloud, Scarlett (Next XBox) and cloud services, Mixer might be an upstart compared to Twitch and YouTube, but they are sitting in a great position on the coming horizon and bringing Ninja over is a good commitment to kick-starting their move towards taking share.

Follow Tom @BlackFIn360 on YouTube, Instagram & Twitter

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

In the News: AdAge Fortnite & Gen Z

I was recently asked by Advertising Age why/if Fortnite is a social network for Gen Z. The behaviors tied to gaming cannot be ignored and the brands that can seamlessly capitalize on creating value, providing exclusive content and enhance creativity will reap the rewards.

Here is my full commentary:

AdAge : Are you buying or selling the notion that Fortnite is a social platform? 

Tom: Fortnite and gaming, in general, is DEFINITELY a social platform, especially for GENZ. It’s not just about the core gameplay. I see groups getting together to create within the game, to conduct private matches with friends and of course for squad play but it also extends to watching streamers via Twitch & YouTube and sharing content.

There is a seamless flow between in-game and associating with game content on the go. Plus with cross-platform play, it doesn’t matter whether you are on Mobile, Nintendo Switch, PC or Xbox you are always able to connect. I see it in my own home as Fortnite has become the starting point for my youngest (11) and his friends to gather, compare in-game skins and then figure out whether they want to create, set up a private match or just play battle royale. 

AdAge: Why or why not? Some brands have gotten into Fortnite (Samsung, Nike, NFL, John Wick, Avengers). 

TOM:
That said, what should brands be thinking about if entering this universe? Brands should definitely consider how they are aligning with titles like Fortnite as well as eSports (competitive gaming). It’s incredibly important to understand the game properly, the fan base and focus on adding value. It’s less about a passive sponsorship and more about creating value or desire through either free downloadable content or virtual items like Skins in Fortnite. 

AdAge: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

TOM: Gen Z spends 2.5 hours a day with on-demand content and 1.5 hours a day gaming. It’s less about content marketing and more about empowering their creativity. Gaming is a social currency for GenZ. Things like virtual skins are the new Jordans (Although virtual Jordan’s were recently introduced via Fortnite). Gaming culture is now mainstream and how advertisers should think about gaming and the power of integrating with various properties should be at the top of the list for brands that covet cultural relevance. 

Here is a link to full article.

AdAge Tom Edwards Commentary

Follow Tom on Twitter/Instagram/YouTube @BlackFin360

In The News: AdAge & Spotify Voice Ads

I was recently asked my opinion by Advertising Age about Spotify’s recently announced voice-enabled audio ad experience. The user could receive a voice-enabled audio ad promoting a playlist or podcast while listening on the mobile app. The ad encourages new content that can be accessed by saying “Play Now” Here is the recently published article.

Here is my full commentary below.

(Advertising Age) In a sentence or two, what is your initial reaction to the news?

(TOM) I was excited when I heard the news. I am a big believer in designing multi-modal experiences and further extending the mobile experience via voice is a smart move, especially for an audio focused experience like Spotify.

What sort of hurdles, if any, do you see with technology such as this?

(TOM) The hurdles are less about the technology and more about ensuring that the user is setup to have a seamless and successful launch of the experience. With the user microphone permission being an additional step it may cause some to skip or miss the experience.

Do you believe this is something consumers want? Why or why not?

(TOM) Consumers want ease, convenience and while listening to Spotify to be entertained. If the voice ads are relevant and based on the affinity of the listener then this could be seen as a value ad, but some education or step by step instructions may be required for some users, especially if they have to adjust settings on their device. For most, it will not be an issue, but preparing for all user scenarios and a frictionless path for consumers will be critical to driving engagement.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

(TOM) There is an opportunity for a voice-based advertising experience. Smart Speaker experiences have been very deliberate not to integrate voice as the focus has been on user adoption. There is a precedent for the Spotify “play now” experience with Siri Shortcuts and how they extend native applications via voice. Consumers can set their own intents via Siri to activate a specific action within an app. The Spotify experience adds a monetization angle to the experience.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

TripleClix Gaming/Marketing Podcast

I was recently in LA and sat down with Chris Erb, founder of TripleClix, an amazing boutique video game marketing agency. I have known Chris for almost a decade and we have collaborated on a lot of fun programs over the years.

When Chris asked me to be guest #1 on his new podcast I jumped at the chance. We talk about the gaming industry and what it means for marketers, the future of gaming and consumer experience and a healthy debate about the Seattle Supersonics leaving for Oklahoma City. That and so much more. Enjoy!

Listen via Spotify

Be sure to save to your Spotify Library

Listen via Apple

Be sure to subscribe and download!

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 & Follow Chris @ChrisErb

April Fools Day Trends 2019

Yesterday was an absolute blast. Everything moves so quickly in the world of marketing & technology. It’s fun to sometimes take a step back and have a little fun while catching those who maybe moving just a bit too quickly.

Here is a fun “trend” recap video that highlights Pet VR, Smart Meats & Outsourced Relaxation.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

In The News: AdExchanger & Apple Live

I was recently asked for my thoughts about a number of the recent Apple Event announcements. From Apple’s original content strategy, monetization, advertising and more. Here is the published article.

Here was my full commentary on the topic:

(Ad Exchanger) Is what Apple planning a Netflix killer?

(TOM) Apple wants to be the Sherpa and curator of content. Their new recommendation engine is more about aggregation across subscriptions vs. being a content killer. I found it interesting that they are still maintaining partnerships with big cable providers while still differentiating through per channel subscriptions. This isn’t a Netflix killer, but Apple understands that moving forward individuals want control over their experiences and multiple subscriptions will exist. They want to be the “Google Search” of entertainment. This keeps their hardware and services sticky throughout.

With Apple TV+ original content, Apple is focusing on creating programming that will create affinity within their services as well. I would not call this a Netflix killer, but it’s a first step to not only control the navigation of content, but also become a destination as well. 

What makes sense in your view for Apple from a monetization standpoint for its original content and its foray into TV?

(TOM) What came through loud and clear from today’s event is Apple’s focus on allowing the consumer to ultimately control their entertainment options. By providing bite-sized subscription services across their ecosystem they gain a consistent stream of revenue that is scalable and minimizes risk of hardware cycles.

It’s yet to be determined how much revenue Apple TV+ will drive in terms of new subscriptions, but with the amount of talent that was showcased, including Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston and so many more providers, it just takes a few shows to catch on to drive monetization of original content.

What are your thoughts about how Apple will deal with advertisers/advertising, what a rev share might be if ads are one of the monetization options?

(TOM) I have not heard anything yet about how Apple will deal with advertisers/advertising. One recurring theme was re-emphasizing on device data processing and less information being available to 3rd parties. Apple may be less inclined to leverage an advertising-based model as they dive into recurring revenue with subscriptions. 

This doesn’t mean the end of advertisers with Apple. As with any program, driving awareness will need to occur outside of the Apple TV+ ecosystem. This is through content, traditional & performance-based advertising. Advertisers will need to focus on other affinity-based channels to connect audiences with programming.

Follow Tom Edwards @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

2019 Oncon Icon Awards

I was recently nominated for multiple awards by OnCon for their 2019 OnCon Icon awards. Marketing Trailblazer, Contributor, and Icon.

As the event unfolded last night I was incredibly grateful to have my wife Cherlyn by my side. As the awards were being announced I was honored to be included with the many other nominees who have made such impactful contributions.

At the end of the night, I was awarded 2 awards and couldn’t be happier or more thankful for my team who helped me achieve this recognition. I love sharing information about the intersection of emerging technology and consumer behavior. Seeing people use this information to grow their businesses is very fulfilling.

Marketing Trailblazer (9 nominees) exhibits innovation, pioneering, and successful creativity.

Marketing Contributor (3 nominees) value to the industry for sharing thought leadership.

Here is a post-ceremony interview with the OnCon team.

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

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

BeTheTalk Podcast Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Detail On My Preparation for my TEDx talk.

Facebook Live Recording of the Evolution of Experience BeTheTalk Podcast.

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

Tom Edwards TEDx – Evolution of Experience

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Subscribe to BlackFin360 via YouTube 

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

Turning AI into ROI Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver a keynote to the Discover card Pulse network advisory team covering the topic of converting AI into ROI.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to Empower, Exponential and Enhanced with a detailed look at multiple facets of artificial intelligence including how the Pixar Theory, all movies are on the same timeline, foreshadows the path for how consumers will adopt AI fueled technology.

Next, we reviewed AI’s potential impact on business results and consumer behavior. The talk also covered the rapid convergence of multimodal technology experiences and the role AI will play in shifting behavior towards the intelligent camera via computer vision and virtual assistants.

The talk ended with a deep dive into the new AI driven 4 P’s of AI marketing and key points to consider to start to prepare for integration of AI into all facets of business.

For more on this topic I recently joined the AI Today Podcast and discussed a number of these topics and more.

AI TODAY PODCAST – Episode 50 – Enhancing Experiences with AI Interview

0:48 – Introduction
1:33 – Recap of Keynote topic at Amazon Alexa Voice Summit
2:53 – Discuss why we are in the “golden age of AI”
4:20 – Discuss The Pixar Theory and Artificial Intelligence
7:00 – Why predictive experiences are key for mass adoption of AI
9:00 – Discuss Gen Z & expectations of experiences
9:37 – How Epsilon Agency is using artificial intelligence
13:25 – What is the future of artificial intelligence?

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 or subscribe via YouTube

United Airlines & Executive Perspective Interview

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Jeffrey Hayzlett of C-Suite TV to kick off season 7 of Executive Perspectives. We discussed digital disruption, conversational experiences, artificial intelligence and best practices for leveraging data to connect with consumers.

screenshot-2016-12-15-13-34-43

Now, I have heard from multiple sources that the interview is available On-demand on domestic and international United Airlines flights.

Here is a transcript of the full interview.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

 

Path To Purchase Expo Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote during the Path To Purchase Expo.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhanced to focus on the camera as a platform, artificial intelligence, multi-modal, and the New 4 P’s of AI marketing and how the convergence of all of these will impact the path to purchase.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

AI Today Podcast Interview

AI and cognitive technologies are enhancing many different industries and providing significant ROI for early adopters. However, AI is also providing benefit in improving our various experiences in life. In this podcast, Cognilytica analysts Kathleen Walch and Ronald Schmelzer interview Tom Edwards, Chief Digital & Innovation Officer at Epsilon Agency, who shares insights into how AI is impacting marketing, customer experience, and more. He also shares how the “Pixar Theory” fits into the general vision of technology adoption and how, as a culture, we’ve come to accept AI in our daily lives.

Topics Discussed:

0:48 – Introduction
1:33 – Recap of Keynote topic at Amazon Alexa Voice Summit
2:53 – Discuss why we are in the “golden age of AI”
4:20 – Discuss The Pixar Theory and Artificial Intelligence
7:00 – Why predictive experiences are key for mass adoption of AI
9:00 – Discuss Gen Z & expectations of experiences
9:37 – How Epsilon Agency is using artificial intelligence
13:25 – What is the future of artificial intelligence?

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

 

 

In The News: Ad Age AI & Brands

Recently, my commentary on data & AI was included in an Ad Age piece on the role of data, artificial intelligence & brands.

Here is a link to the full article.

Here is my full commentary based on Ad Age’s original question…

Ad Age: We’re seeing more agencies now offering services for AI solutions, but how do you see this shaking out? What will separate the ones who will succeed with the ones that do not?

TOM: Offering an AI service for clients is one thing, but the key is understand that data is the fuel for AI. Without a solid understanding and corpus of data as a starting point for AI driven experiences consumer facing experiences have the potential of falling flat.

The organizations and experiences that will succeed in the short term with AI will understand that the consumer facing experience should not try and solve every possible outcome for consumers.

We have conducted research on user expectations of AI and there is one fundamental truth for adoption of AI and consumer facing experience adoption across generations and that is ease & convenience. Whether it’s managing personal time, predicting financial needs, or order replenishment through AI. The key is to understand that AI solutions need to seamlessly make consumers lives easier.

What will truly separate AI solutions over time are the ones that have both structured & unstructured data at the core that is built to action against consumer needs, will design for multimodal experiences beyond mobile and desktop, and be prepared to fully guide consumer experiences via virtual assistant ecosystems as AI becomes a proxy for consumers over time.

The organizations that can market to both consumer and systems will win the day. It’s no longer just the consumer decision decision journey as system based marketing via AI is now here and will continue to take on more responsibility for consumers.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

Financial Brand Forum Tom Edwards Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at the 2018 Financial Brand Forum.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhanced to focus on Data, Artificial Intelligence, Multi-Modal and the New 4 P’s of AI marketing,  and much more.

Empower is looking at how accessibility to mobile technology has led to consumers being empowered to create, amplify and influence across generations. Specifically looking at the behaviors of Gen Z and the evolving role of the camera.

Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the role of data for AI as well as the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs and ultimately become a proxy for the individual that will split decision journeys between consumers and algorithms.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital and how immersive computing, AR, VR, computer vision will make the user’s camera intelligent and forever our version of reality.

The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by AI including a date when it will all converge as well as 4 new P’s of marketing to consider building future state strategy around.

It was a good crowd and I really enjoyed the 45 minute session + Q&A.

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.

Tom Edwards Speaker Bio

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

MarTech Conference Tom Edwards Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at MarTech West 2018.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhance to focus on Gen Z & Computer Vision, The evolution of the camera from capture to communication and much more.

Empower is looking at how accessibility to mobile technology has led to consumers being empowered to create, amplify and influence across generations.

Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs and ultimately become a proxy for the individual that will split decision journeys between consumers and algorithms.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital and how immersive computing, AR, VR, computer vision will make the user’s camera intelligent and forever our version of reality.

The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by AI including a date when it will all converge.

It was a good crowd and I really enjoyed the 45 minute session + Q&A.

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.

Tom Edwards Speaker Bio

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

C-Suite TV Tom Edwards Interview on BizTV

Sunday night April 22nd at 6 EDT, my previous interview with Jeffrey Hayzlett and C-Suite TV aired on the BizTV television network. Here is a recap of the discussion.

I previously had the pleasure of joining the C-Suite TV team at their San Francisco event and was interviewed by Jeffrey Hayzlett. It was a fun discussion as he asked me about the shift from social media to social messaging, strategies to make the shift, voice-based experiences, disruption, galactic cannibalism, trends and the future of connecting with consumers.

photo-nov-08-3-07-23-pm

Below is a recap of my key talking points for each question.

(C-Suite TV – JH) As we’re on the verge of a transformational moment in marketing with the shift from social media to social messaging, how are marketers making this shift?

(Tom Edwards – TE) Over the past 5-10 years, we as marketers have focused primarily on the open web + social media. Earlier this year social messaging passed social media in terms of monthly active users. Consumers are ready for conversational experiences. Part of the reason for the appeal is that it is seen as safe, comfortable and intimate.

I spent most of 2016 researching, writing and educating our brand partners about what this shift can mean for their business. We conducted proprietary research on what consumers want from conversational experiences that led to an ebook on the topic.

Social Shift Toward Messaging

As we dug into consumer expectations around conversational experiences, our research found that they want experiences that are convenient and support local experiences, there is openness to pay within social messaging and an expectation that it will connect physical and digital elements such as in-store coupons and discounts, there is also a willingness to interact with intelligent systems.  Research also shows that 60% of millennials would prefer talking to a chatbot vs. talking to a human when it comes to resolving questions about online shopping.

From a marketing perspective, there has been a significant amount of experimentation trying to create the ideal experience. With Apple, Facebook, LINE, Kik, Skype and more providing tools and services that will allow others through 3d party SDKs & API’s to create an ecosystem. Their hope is to become the central portal in order to empower consumers and drive commerce. Facebook doesn’t own the hardware or the operating system, so they are invested in keeping people in the messenger experience.

Some experiences are trying to further personify the brand, others are about creating utility or a sense of intimacy with the brand. The goal is to create a real-time experience that is centralized in one conversational thread.

The key will be creating experiences that are not disruptive but are actually attentive to the current and future needs of the consumer. The ideal experiences will be built around the premise of simplification + prediction. It’s not about a deeper personal connection with a friend, but to be able to anticipate, predict and enhance a consumers experience.

This is where we see the idea of CONNECTION + COGNITION coming together.

(JH) What processes and strategies do you need in place to make this shift effective?

(TE) I recommend an approach that is based on five core factors of Simplification, Data Design, Prediction, Ambient Design & Physical to Digital.

photo-nov-08-4-09-30-pm

1 – (SIMPLIFICATION) The key is to reduce complexity in consumers lives and create experiences that are ownable by the brand’s domain. Analyze data for most commonly asked questions and expand from there with use cases focused on enhancing and simplifying experiences.

2 – (DATA DESIGN) Have a strategy not just to capture data but how to use it. Define the role of unstructured data in refining the experience. Consider what new data points are being integrated to inform future prediction. How are you making the data actionable? On my team, we now have a data design team that sits between traditional brand planning + digital strategy. This is the intersection of Big Data + Design Thinking. They own the tools, assets and data sources and understand how to craft a data-driven narrative.

3 – (PREDICTION) Anticipate consumer needs is key for the future of conversational experiences. Messenger experiences are not designed to be like Google search, at least not yet. Google is working towards the ideal intersection between search & retrieval vs. predictive. But again a combination of data, predictive analytics built on working data is the entry point towards truly predictive experiences. (cognitive will accelerate this)

4 – (AMBIENT DESIGN) The future of computing is tied to ambient experiences, or how your environment interacts with you. It is critical to approach designing conversational and voice based UX differently.

5 – (PHYSICAL TO DIGITAL) One of the other elements is the rise of conversational commerce. There is a concerted effort to closely align physical & digital shopping experiences as a means to enhance the customer experience. Our research shows there is an expectation from consumers to have local experiences connect to digital through conversational experiences.

(JH) Let’s talk about some newer technologies, how does voice-based technology play into this shift to a conversational user experience?

(TE) I am a strong believer in the fact that voice-based experiences and artificial intelligence systems will become pervasive in our everyday lives. The core of the experience is a combination of automated speech recognition, natural language processing and a cloud-based AI that comprise a voice-based user experience.

I am very intrigued by the possibility of the ability to create context through voice services such as Amazon Alexa Voice Services & the recently launched Google Home. Voice-based experiences will play a key role during this time as our interactions with connected systems and the rise of micro-services as a primary mechanism to navigate a hyper-connected world will become the new normal.

Photo Jul 19, 9 07 41 AM (1)

I strongly believe that we will begin to see a convergence over the next few years where elements that enable connection such as social messaging and voice-based conversational user experiences combined with cognitive computing (AI) and immersive experiences such as holographic computing will become interconnected and will redefine how we approach connecting with consumers.

We will begin to see services such as Alexa Voice Services quickly proliferate throughout 3rd party devices from in-home IOT systems to connected vehicles and “skills” will become a key component for how we navigate beyond screens. Estimates already show over 28 billion connected devices by 2019.

(JH) We hear you say that “disruption is the new normal” what do you mean by that?

(TE) Digital disruption has been at the center of major consumer shifts over the past 10 years. Disruption is now the new normal. The Premise is change is constant and experimentation is critical and how you integrate trends into your existing business is key.

The acceleration of technology has led to the rapid empowerment of the consumer. What organizations have to consider is that with each iteration of technology and consumer empowerment new types of interactions will lead to the need to rethink the business models of today.

Japan Emotional Robot

This has a significant impact on the C-suite as the pressure on CMO’s to be creative thinkers, intelligent around data, domains, and disciplines as well as mitigation of risk, the pressure to innovate, find and retain talent and try to be as agile as possible. Combined with the pace of new interaction models there is a lack of strategy to deal with the shifts in a meaningful way as the focus is on short-term stability.

This is why it’s important to build a plan with a foundational approach to data and understand what domains the brand can own and wherein the new interaction types there are opportunities to redefine business models. This is why I have chosen Connection, Cognition and Immersion as the pillars of how brands can map to the new interaction types of the near future.

(JH) I heard you say we’re on the verge of galactic cannibalism can you explain what this means for marketers and how can marketers stay ahead of the game?

(TE) I have spoken a lot recently about how disruption is the new normal. I recently heard someone compare the last five years as a “supernova” of disruption in terms of the intensity and velocity of change.

With the rise of artificial intelligence, conversational, ambient experiences, connected systems, and mixed reality on the horizon we are moving well beyond a supernova and are now on the verge of galactic cannibalism.

gc2

Galactic cannibalism is when one galaxy collides with another and there is a subsequent absorption of parts of one into the other. From a consumer marketing standpoint how we consume and interact via digital channels is about to be absorbed and redefined through new advancements in connection, cognition & immersion.

The key point to surviving and thriving is to have a comprehensive data strategy as data assets will serve as the fuel of this shift. Regardless of which galaxies collide a thorough understanding of data, content, experiences, and outcomes is a marketing foundation for the future.

Also, it is important to understand how data will evolve. Currently, the focus is on 1st part & 3rd party data. But in the emerging world think of the data created by connected systems as well as new forms of real-time sentiment data, such as your eyes in a VR experience or facial recognition in a retail setting. These will require a comprehensive data design effort to craft content, experiences and drive outcomes as a marketing foundation for the future.

Ultimately we will have to acknowledge that the relationship between consumers and technology will fundamentally change from consumers operating technology to technology operating for consumers through data.

(JH) How do you apply the trends of today to the business models of the future?

(TE) One of my responsibilities with Epsilon is I lead the innovation practice for the agency business. We have designed an approach that is consumer-centric, data-driven, iterative and allows our brand partners to scale emerging technologies and integrate trends into tangible solutions that drive business outcomes. The practice is comprised of four distinct elements that span research, workshops, experimentation, and transformation.

Innovation v3 - white slide

Regarding research & trends, we leverage Epsilon’s proprietary data and analytics, first and third party research, emerging companies and established partner networks to research, curate and educate on the latest trends and how it can apply to our clients business.

Our approach is as follows:

Our team identifies a new tech/emerging tech…

1. Track Product/Technology Announcement

2. Measure Velocity of coverage & discussion

3. Conduct Initial analysis & POV outlining potential value/impact

4. Explore outcome impacts & role of tech in the consumer journey

5. Map vertical specific use cases

6. Educate internal teams & external clients

7. Identify early vendor partners and alpha/beta opportunities

8. Conduct Project based experiments

9. Capture & package project based success

10. Build business value case for horizon consideration

Once you have identified your trends its helpful to begin to filter across key macro trend territories, in this case, I am exploring trends that reach across

Empower, Exponential, and Experience.

(JH) What’s really resonating with consumers right now? What should marketers be paying attention too?

(TE) Anonymous personalization through dynamic content, targeted video content, Personalized, connecting the consumer experience across digital to physical & 1:1 messaging that is authentic, provides value and is contextually relevant is key.

Human attention is now a scarce commodity. Attention is a resource – and we only have so much to give. The key to experience design is built around data, content & channels or experiences.

Screenshot 2016-08-29 09.48.19

I like to start with data, it can be 1st party or secondary data sources, but I look for attitudinal, behavioral in addition to standard demographic. Transactional data can also be a key element and consistency of message is key.

(JH) What is the future of connecting with consumers?

(TE) I strongly believe that we will begin to see a convergence over the next few years where elements that enable connection such as social messaging and voice-based conversational user experiences combined with cognitive computing (AI) and immersive experiences such as holographic computing will become interconnected and will redefine how we approach connecting with consumers.

Screenshot 2016-08-29 09.48.40

The key will be to create data designed experiences that empower consumers.

Here is a link to the full video interview kicking off season 7.

c-suite-blackfin360

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

REX Executive Roundtables IHRSA Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote for the REX Executive Roundtable group at the San Diego Zoo. This was a lead-up event to recent IHRSA 2018 conference.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhance to bring examples relevant for the evolution of experience in the fitness industry.

Here is the full 45-minute keynote.

Empower is looking at how accessibility to mobile technology has led to consumers being empowered to create, amplify and influence across generations.

Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs and ultimately become a proxy for the individual that will forever alter the path to purchase.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital and how immersive computing, AR, VR, computer vision will make the user’s camera intelligent and forever changing the retail experience.

The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by AI including a date when it will all converge.

It was a great crowd and I really enjoyed the hour with such a highly engaged and interactive group.

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.

Tom Edwards Speaker Bio

Follow Tom @BlackFin360