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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Google Glass The Future Is Now

Wearable technology, specifically head mounted displays have been a part of science fiction canon for a very long time. Fans of the 80’s anime series Dragon Ball were accustomed to seeing characters with their own version of “Google Glass” interfaces. This preexisting association can be both a positive and a negative when it comes to the potential mass adoption of Google Glass.

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The explosion of fitness related wearable technology with the Fit Bit, Nike Fuel Band & the recently launched Jawbone fitness band have led to a rise in mass appeal for wearable technology. The trend has been if the wearable technology provides relevance & utility as a natural extension of our daily lives we are willing to put our time & dollars towards supporting this type of product. For Google Glass, the goal is to further integrate the real world into the Google ecosystem thus creating a natural extension into your daily life, even if you look a bit like Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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Google Glass has been the subject of a lot of hype over the past few months. From influencers wearing them at SXSW to recent sightings throughout NYC. What started as a project from Google X Labs is now on the verge of becoming a mainstream device. Whether this will go from Uber nerd category to mainstream essential is yet to be seen, but this will fundamentally impact the intersection of physical & digital moving forward.

Here I am testing Google Glass

Tom Edwards Google Glass

Google Glass, What are the specs and what should I expect from the UX?

The recent release of the Google Glass tech specs outline Google’s commitment to bring the product to market and attempt to redefine how we interact with the physical world. The specs include:

  • a high resolution display which is equivalent to a 25 inch HD TV from 8 feet away
  • 5 MP camera and 720P video
  • Bone condution audio transducer
  • Wi-fi & Bluetooth enabled
  • 12 GB of useable memory synced with Google cloud storage (16 GB total)
  • 1 full day of typical use

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Outside of the tech specs, I was really interested in diving into the Google Mirror developer API’s. This is where you can really begin to see how Google plans on allowing the developer ecosystem to support the product & experiences moving forward.

One of the core elements of the user experience is tied to the concept of Timeline Cards.  These cards display the top level content that users will see. There are essentially two levels of navigation, with a top level primary and a sub-timeline for easy organization. Timeline cards support text, rich HTML, images or video content. From a brand perspective, understanding the relationship between relevant content & how information is presented & consumed via Timeline cards will be a key area to focus on as launch approaches.

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Similar to how Facebook allows the usage of “action objects” to further drive content acceleration and discoverability through the social graph, the Google Mirror API allows the addition of action based interactivity into the app experience. For now commands such as “read aloud”, “reply by voice” and “navigate to” are inherent to the navigation, but this can extend “discover” or other action verbs. More importantly, it will be interesting to track how user actions are then reported back, or ultimately mapped to contextual or location based search. It is easy to see how actions could then be turned into opportunities to share both within the construct of Google & possibly overlays to the physical world via augmented reality tagging or proximity based recommendations.

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Subscriptions seem to be a key element to the Google Glass experience. Both from an engagement & tracking standpoint. Subscriptions tell you when users choose specific menu items or when they share to a contact. Once an action is taken, it will be possible to take a specific action, such as share a photo. This will allow branded experiences to see what is truly engaging to the end user.

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Location is going to be a key element of Google Glass. If the user opt’s-in and grants access it is possible to use the Google Mirror API to observe the user’s location in timeline items, request their last known location directly, and subscribe to periodic location updates. You can also deliver pre-rendered map images in timeline cards by giving the Mirror API the coordinates to draw. Basically, location is the key attribute to connect the user to their environment that can then be overlaid map data or even with augmented reality interfaces.

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The biggest brand opportunities will be tied to mapping users locations with digital overlays to take real-world actions. This is already coming to life through Google’s augmented reality massively multiplayer online game for Android Ingress. Ingress seems to be designed with Google Glass in mind. I will be going into deeper detail around the impact of Ingress and the potential for brands in a future post but brands such as Zipcar & Jamba Juice are already testing the impact that this type of engagement can provide.

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What is the potential for Google Glass over the next 3-5 years?

Interconnectivity – The intersection of technology and utility is going to be a key area of focus over the next 5 years. Interconnection between smart grid technology in our homes that intersect with mobile devices such as Google Glass will continue to gain traction. When it comes to wearable technology, the overlay of digital into our everyday lives via products such as Google Glass are just the tip of the iceberg on a new landscape of interaction both physically and socially. Changing the view of real world with digital overlays will continue to develop into a new form of communication and interaction.

Contextual Data – The trend digitally is a movement from mass social interaction towards contextual networks. This same concept will push through wearable technology. You look at the rise of the Nike Fuel band and the gamification and sharability of personal information. This trend will continue to expand beyond fitness into other facets of our lives. Data tied to fitness, work habits, leisure etc… will all begin to create different sets of data that can then be visualized, gamified and used to help us lead more efficient, effective lives.

This also maps to Google’s larger strategy tied to contextual & personalized search. If you watch what is happening from a search standpoint, one of the bigger trends is the move towards personalized & socially enabled search where results will differ by individual, and social weighting of content will be a key driver to determine what search results you see. This coincides with Google Glass, as the intersection of location, search & social are evident based on how the UX is being defined.

Google Search Plus Your World

Content anywhere – How we consume content has changed significantly over the last decade. Content ubiquity will become accelerated with Google Glass and similar products that provide HD display’s and voice activated controls allowing for access to streaming content on demand. This is just the beginning as paper thin displays and wearable technology continues to evolve. What was once thought to be science fiction is quickly becoming reality.

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