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

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 

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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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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

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

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.

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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

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Facebook F8 Recap & Reaction

A quick reaction & recap video with highlights from today’s Facebook F8 event. The macro theme was the future is private and it was all about Facebook’s approach to privacy and it’s product suite.

Messenger is going to play a starring role, advances with Instagram and commerce, further maturing of Facebook’s AR toolset, new and exciting VR announcements, a preview of how CRM will evolve via Messenger and what was missing from today’s show. This and more in today’s video.

Full recap & analysis of Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference

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April Fools Day Trends 2019

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

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

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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/

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

Carnegie Dartlet Keynote

What a great week! From the OnCon Icon Awards to delivering a keynote during the 2019 Carnegie Dartlet Conference, it was a great week in Orlando!

What was great about #CarnegieConf, besides the fact that it was hosted at Walt Disney World, was the amazing audience of higher education professionals. They were highly engaged both during the talk and via social.

The talk centered around how technology will adapt to us vs. us adapting to it. From the role the camera will play as a bridge to intelligence, why the Pixar Theory explains AI adoption, and how spatial computing combined with virtual assistant proxies will change our view of reality.

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

Book Tom for an event here.

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CES 2019 Highlight – Groove Jones

I have been a fan of Dan Ferguson & the Groove Jones team for years. They are definitely my go-to partner for immersive experiences. Groove Jones worked with the Ford Motor Company on a gamified VR experience that showcases their new Co-Pilot360™ safety technology as well as Sleep Number activation at CES 2019. 

Dan Ferguson & I at SXSW 2017

The experience was a 6 minute driving experience that takes the user on a journey from their home and onto a highway drive and then into the city, all along putting them into a variety of scenarios where they face various obstacles and hazards to demonstrate the safety technology. 

Users attempt to react to the hazards and obstacles with a game controller and see if they can beat or keep up with the Co-Pilot360 technology. The application tracks where the user is looking as well. So by tracking if they are able to see an obstacle or hazard visually or by using the controller they are given a score. It is a fully interactive experience running on the Oculus Go. 

As you can see below, I scored an 83% out of a possible 100%. A leaderboard system on-site displayed the daily leaders. Data was collected on every user that played tying into Ford’s CRM goals. Players received an email confirming their score along with a 360º panoramic image that they could then share on their social channels.


They also worked with their client Sleep Number again on a Quarterback Challenge VR experience that demonstrates how a good nights sleep versus a poor nights sleep impacts your physical performance. In this multiplayer experience, users are competing to see who can hit the most targets in a Quarterback Challenge game.

The four players are transported onto the 50 yard line of a massive football stadium. The first part of the game simulates how you would feel with a good nights sleep. The second part of the game simulates what it feels and looks like when you have had a poor nights sleep of 6 hours or less. Special guest stars stopped by the booth for their chance to play, including Katie Couric, who beat everyone she was playing against.
Groove Jones is doing some amazing work and they are definitely my go to for immersive experiences.

Check them out here – www.groovejones.com

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19 Trends for 2019

As technology seamlessly integrates into our lives we will continue to move towards a time when our technology adapts to us vs. us inputting into the technology.

2019 will accelerate the convergence of experiences. The shift from desktop and mobile to voice, vision and touch fueled by intelligent systems will be a key focus for the coming year.

We will see the role of voice-based assistants evolve towards predictive proxies, advancing hardware will unlock spatial computing (AR/VR/Mixed/Hyper Reality) and rapidly evolving iterations of artificial intelligence will transform the camera and how we interact with the world around us. 

We hope you enjoy our 2019 trend predictions. We filter the coming convergence through the framework of Empower, Exponential, and Enhanced

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

EMPOWER – Technology that empowers consumers

EXPONENTIAL – Technology fueling intelligence and autonomous systems.

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

BEYOND – Tech that is on the horizon for consideration

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

EMPOWER IMPLICATIONS

EXPONENTIAL IMPLICATIONS

ENHANCED IMPLICATIONS

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BeTheTalk Podcast Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Detail On My Preparation for my TEDx talk.

Facebook Live Recording of the Evolution of Experience BeTheTalk Podcast.

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

Tom Edwards TEDx – Evolution of Experience

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Subscribe to BlackFin360 via YouTube 

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

2019 Trends Digital Twins & Spatial Computing


One of the bigger trends in 2019 will be tied to Digital Twins… but why? Here is a full video breakdown. 

WHAT ARE DIGITAL TWINS

A digital twin refers to a digital replica or model of a physical asset (physical twin), processes, people, places, systems and devices that can be used for various purposes such as simulation of performance.

So It’s Primarily For FACTORIES COOL? WHY SHOULD I CARE? 

The primary use cases are tied to Industrial IOT scenarios.The Digital Twin serves as a bridge between physical and digital. The physical asset has IOT sensors that constantly collect various forms of data and feed the information to the digital twin to analyze and run predictive simulations. The findings from the virtual models can then be applied to the physical asset.

MY HYPOTHESIS – APPLICATION TO CONSUMERS 

There is a possible connection to consumer experience use cases tied to physical sensor data and virtual assistant proxy simulations.

What’s going to enable the use of consumer experience digital twin experiences at scale will be 5G connectivity. 5G will fuel connection of IOT frameworks as well as edge computing to reduce potential latency and the ability to process information as close to the source as possible.

This will allow connectivity and enhanced data transfer capabilities of the 20 billion IOT devices that exist today. 

ROLE OF THE PROXY WEB

2019 will also see the accelerated adoption and dependence on virtual assistants. There are now over 1 billion devices that provide voice assistant access today.

90 Million use voice assistants on smartphones and 45 million use them on smart speakers per month.

Digital assistants are an on ramp to further usage of AI and robotics. As virtual assistants move towards the center of the operating experience we will continue to move towards what I call, the Proxy Web.

PROXY WEB

This is where our virtual assistants begin managing certain aspects of our lives behind the scenes.

Our proxy will be able to communicate with other proxies and align preferences to map where to eat for dinner with a friend, it knows our food preferences and schedule.

This preference ownership and ability to communicate with other proxies and nodes in systems could be the key to unlocking spatial computing simulation at scale.

DYNAMIC SPATIAL COMPUTING EXPERIENCES 

One of the key areas of focus in 2019 will be the further melding of physical and digital experiences. We have seen the rapid democratization of various forms of spatial computing.

Spatial Computing is using the physical space around us as a medium to interact with technology.

This includes AR, VR, Mixed Reality, Hyper Reality and more. The goal with my digital twin hypothesis is to not only deliver a one size fits all experience but creating personalization at scale through spatial computing.

Digital Twin type simulations may be the key to connect custom reality overlays based on preferences driven by our virtual assistants. 

IDEA in Action

I am a Star Wars fan…. the retailer Target normally goes big with Star Wars in-store promotions when there is a major film release. With the digital twin simulation concept, based on my personal preferences, my virtual assistant knows that I have a strong affinity for Star Wars based on my behavior, this includes voice queries, watching Star Wars Theory videos via YouTube, my past purchases of Funko Pops,etc…

Instead of plastering the store with physical Star Wars promotional material, Target could have pre-mapped various spatial computing “experiences” that are triggered based preferences discoverable via my virtual assistant.

An in-store sensor network could feed previous trip information of me and other guests with a similar affinity and allow for the Star Wars focused simulation to be adjusted in real-time to get me to a specific area of the store or special offers on say retail specific Funko Pops.

The Digital Twin becomes the intelligence engine to enhance the base physical store experience and create a personalized experience based on predictive digital simulation. 

The ultimate goal being to have the environment and experience personalized to me based on multiple simulations and a connection to my preferences.

Questions? Tweet to Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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

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.

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Stepping Into The Void

I first heard of the VOID three years ago and I was hooked when I watched the following YouTube video. Since then I have wanted to become fully immersed in the VOID and thought many times about making the trip to Utah where the first VOID facility was constructed.

Today, I didn’t have to travel to Utah. The VOID is now right here in Texas. I immediately bought tickets for a big crew and we descended south to Plano, Texas where the VOID is now embedded in a Cinemark theater, next to Cinemark HQ.

The Void is virtual reality overlaid onto physical environments. I have to say it is the most immersive simulated experience I have been a part of to date. This experience also happened to be Star Wars themed, so it combined two of my favorite things, emerging tech + Star Wars.

With location based elements, virtual reality, physical haptic equipment and environmental elements (feeling heat) combined it was an amazing mix of tactical and visual elements that created a truly immersive experience.

I have tried many forms of VR over the years at CES, SXSW, Facebook F8, Mobile World Congress and more. From headsets, motion simulators and more and nothing has compared to the VOID experience.

As you enter the experience there is a backpack full of a haptics and rumble packs as well as an onboard computer. The headset is a mix of Oculus Rift combined with a Leap Motion module. For this experience we were also able to pick up rifles partway through and then were inside a first person shooter. This included haptic feedback and a lot of friendly fire!

The best part was the social aspect of the experience. My fireteam was right there with me with visual and full audio. I had the opportunity to go through with my boys and I have to say that the real time augmented overlay and motion sensors to 1/10th of a degree and this was the best part of the experience.

When I looked at my boys they looked like Stormtroopers, except my 10 year old was a very short Stormtrooper. If you have an opportunity to visit the VOID experience I would highly recommend it.

One final element I enjoyed was the post event follow up. The message stayed with the theme of the event and also included stats such as accuracy and the number of Stormtroopers taken down.

Overall, the combination of real world physical elements plus incredibly immersive VR set a new bar for immersive digital experiences via the VOID.

Book your VOID experience at Cinemark.com/TheVOID

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Evanta CMO Summit Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at the 2018 Evanta CMO Summit in Dallas, Texas.

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, the New 4 P’s of AI marketing and new themes introduced by the Apple WWDC 2018 that happened earlier in the day.

Frito-Lay Boundless Marketing Summit Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at the 2018 Frito-Lay Boundless Marketing Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.

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.

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 ultimately becoming a proxy for the individual that will split decision journeys between consumers and algorithms.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital reality and how immersive computing, augmented reality, computer vision and the intelligent camera will forever redefine 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 artificial intelligence. This includes a date when project it will all converge as well as 4 new P’s of marketing.

It was an awesome crowd and I really enjoyed the 30 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

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.

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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

Dr. Pepper Media Masters Keynote

I had the privilege of presenting to the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group marketing organization today via a Keynote format on the topics of data & the evolution of experience during their Media Masters event.

The first half of the hour-long talk explored how Epsilon Agency approaches data and data design. Highlighting our work with structured data, our view on the alignment of actioning of data through mapping attributes to dimensions and then highlighting multiple case studies tied to our unstructured data work and machine learning approach.


Then the presentation shifted into the full Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhance and discussed how we will evolve from us inputting into technology, to our environment adapting to us.

Dr. Pepper Media Masters

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

The Innovation Playoffs

Over the past 18 years, the first three months of the year always seem to stand out in terms of analyzing the alignment of emerging technology and consumer behavior that impacts trend analysis for the remainder of the year.

2018 was no different. I often joke that the “playoffs” for emerging technology happens between January and March each year. We immediately kick off the new year with CES, the consumer electronics show. CES is all about the latest technology and covering multiple football fields of tech in addition to all of the sessions and announcements culminating in a trend recap and analysis.

February is all about infrastructure and the underlying technology that will power the next iteration of multi-modal computing (voice, vision & touch) through Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The discussions here highlight key tech tied to the upcoming rise of 5G connectivity and edge computing that will connect our world like never before. Find out what these trends mean for your business.

March then caps the three-month sprint with SXSW. The first fifteen days of March 2018 were especially accelerated from discussing machine learning, blockchain and humanizing artificial intelligence with ZD Net to previewing SXSW with Ad Age and Adweek

Tom Edwards SXSW.jpg

South by Southwest Interactive focused on experiences that build on technology and infrastructure to provide the consumer perspective for how the technology will further adapt to us vs. us inputing into technology. I spoke about our approach to artificial intelligence actioning data during SXSW with John Dubois of Oculus 360. And you can watch our Epsilon Agency SXSW recap video here.

The final leg of the innovation sprint culminated in delivering a TEDx talk on March 17th. Tom Ewdards TEDx Professional photo3TEDx is about sharing “ideas worth spreading”. Since 2009, TEDx talks have garnered over a billion views. I had the opportunity to speak at TEDx Oaklawn in Dallas, Texas on the evolution of experience. I focused on when the mobile device will no longer be the primary way we interface with technology as we shift from desktop and mobile to incorporate voice, vision and touch powered by intelligent systems that will ultimately enhance our reality.

The full TEDx video will be available within the next few weeks.

I look forward to sharing more throughout the year. For more, follow me @BlackFin360

This is a repost from the Epsilon corporate blog

MarTechSeries Interview

I was recently interviewed by MarTechSeries in advance of my speaking engagement for MarTech West on April 24th in San Jose, California.

The full interview covers topics such as my role with Epsilon, advice for B2B marketers dealing with evolving technology, start-ups I am working with, how to prepare for the impact of AI, apps and tools I use, productivity hacks and much more.

Here are some excerpts from the full interview: 

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SXSW 2018 Sony Wow Studio

Over the past few years, one of the most consistent brands across trade shows (CES, MWC, SXSW) has been Sony.

I have been impressed with their strategy to evolve experience interfaces beyond mobile through voice, vision and touch.

At SXSW 2018, Sony’s experience is a showcase of multi-modal interfaces. From interactive projectors, AR & VR experiences, Robotic assistant Xperia Hello!, CES 2018 Star Aibo, and one of the weirdest yet immersive experiences I have been a part of at SXSW.

The Wow Studio is a preview of what’s to come as our environment becomes more of an interface and technology begins to adapt to us vs. us adapting to the technology.

I have experienced the Xperia Hello! At previous shows. The Xperia Hello! Is Sony’s version of a robotic assistant. Think of an echo style form factor with a 4.55 inch screen. The robot assistant responds to voice, gesture and facial expressions and one of the primary use cases I personally tried was tied to Skype and F2F communication.

One of the most unique experiences was the Sonic Surf VR experience. This was a fully immersive experience that did not require a headset. This is a new technology that will allow creators to make sound appear to move on its own. See below for a sample of the experience.

Audio as an extension of Enhanced Reality (AI + AR/VR/MR) is one of the key themes I have observed so far.

One of the final experiences was upon exit of the Wow Studio. This section featured a digital message/graffiti wall. The unique aspect is that the experience was driven by an interactive projector light based interface to create the experience.

Here is the evolving digital artwork.

Sony continues to provide a preview for how consumer centric experiences will continue to evolve. From AI & Robotics to gesture and touch based interfaces to the rise of enhanced audio in support of spatial experiences tying physical and digital together. Sony delivered on the promise of the “Wow Studio”.

On to the next experience…. Westworld

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SXSW 2018 – Augmented Reality Audio

As the experiences for SXSW 2018 begin to kickoff, one of the first stops was at the Bose Augmented Reality Audio experience.

The experience starts with a video outlining various use cases tied to voice based Augmented Reality.

The trick here though is that there is not a visual aspect to the experience. It’s all driven based on various inputs such as location tags, GPS and extended phone functions.

By wearing the glasses, you get Audio queues such as reviews of a restaurant or landmark simply by looking at an object. The AR aspect is tied to invisible environmental queues that activate experiences.

This could be an interesting bridge to full AR experiences as consumers may accept pervasive voice as an extension into enhanced reality that integrates voice, vision and touch.

The form factor felt more like Snapchat Spectacles and less Google Glass. The push for form and fashion is key for mass adoption.

Looking forward to the SDK this fall as my questions were less about the hardware and more about the location tagging and environmental triggers where there will be a third party dependency.

On to the next experience!

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