I have enjoyed a strong partnership with Synthesia. They are creators of an AI video platform that allows organizations to generate videos featuring AI avatars. You are able to choose a template and avatar, type in your text, add visual elements and it will generate a full video.
Recently, I was recorded and converted into an AI avatar. I have always wanted to blur the line between physical and digital reality, now my likeness will take the next step towards transcendence.
The transformation is taking place in the photos above and below.
This week I had an opportunity to travel to Maui, Hawaii, to deliver the newly revamped Evolution of Experience keynote. Besides the amazing setting next to the beautiful Maui shoreline, the crowd was fantastic as we dove into some of the latest trends redefining consumer expectations for all industries.
The keynote has been revamped, and I have evolved the core format of Empower, Exponential, and Enhanced by also adding Experience. All with the same trademark of infusing pop culture as a lead-in to understanding complex topics. From Star Wars, Fortnite, Roblox, Pixar, The Matrix, Stranger Things, Minority Report, West World, and so much more.
Empower is all about understanding that consumers are in control. Their expectations are radically transforming how business is done. This section covers all facets of GenZ, gaming, introduction to the Metaverse, Ethereum, NFTs, POAPs, the evolving role of the camera, how to identify a fad vs. trend, and the rise of private messaging, and how the camera is a bridge to intelligence.
Exponential is all about ease and convenience as the core motivation for adopting intelligent systems. This section covers the basics of AI, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, understanding algorithms, why we are in the golden age of AI, predictive decisioning, generative models, five levels of autonomy, digital humans, virtual assistants, and the rise of the proxy web.
Enhanced is all about perception between physical and digital and how and when technology will adapt to us vs. us adapting to it. This section dives deeper into the Metaverse, the role of computer vision, digital synths, multi-modal interfaces, digital twins, holograms, synthetic reality, and my prediction of when we will see multi-modal at scale.
Experience is an entirely new section that helps the audience understand how to think about emerging trend territories and how it applies to their business, from understanding how digital channels and behaviors have evolved to how they can personally take steps to better understand the world around them. This section ends with a practical how-to section that provides deeper introductions to the topics of the Metaverse, Ethereum, NFTs, AI, Digital Humans, and Emerging Tech.
I am excited to be back on stage and the future is crystalizing before our eyes. It’s an exciting time and I love educating and inspiring through technology.
A special thank you to the WSADA team for a great event!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-300-1888 ext. 101.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Tom’s Innovation to Reality talk is available here at the Telco Global Forum.
Wow! It felt good to be back on stage with a socially distant audience. Yes, I wore a mask on stage per the organizer’s policy, but it was great to be in person! This was a bespoke talk designed to motivate future business & technology, men & women.
The talk covered how a passion for gaming, marketing, and technology, has shaped my career journey. This discussion was more personal and reflective than futurist, but I wanted to provide insights into how various passions have shaped my perspective and translated to driving business performance.
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.
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
I recently had the opportunity to provide the opening keynote for the Dallas Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association discussing trends tied to evolving consumer experiences. This is the latest version of the InnovationToReality talk series covering all facets of consumer behavior and emerging technology.
It was a fun and highly interactive keynote session! We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies, & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior will shift in the near future. We talked about how the 5 levels of autonomy and the new 4P’s will impact industry 4.0. Finally, the role and importance of 5G in the transition towards ubiquitous simulation.
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.
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.
One of the highlights of my speaking career so far was delivering a TEDx talk in 2018. That talk has consistently picked up views and is now featured on TED.com. I am incredibly excited and humbled to have my work featured here.
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.
From Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies & The Matrix, Tom Edwards illustrates how pop-culture shows a path for how technology evolves through the filters of Empower, Exponential & Enhanced.
Empower (Timestamp – 5:05) is about the expectation of control and this journey explores Star Wars, Fortnite, Gen Z, the lens as life, how the future is private and the camera is a bridge to intelligence.
Exponential (Timestamp – 15:30) is about intelligent systems that deliver ease & convenience. This journey focuses on the Pixar theory, AI, virtual assistants, the 5 levels of autonomy and the proxy web.
Enhanced (Timestamp – 28:18) is about digital & physical reality and the path to simulation. Here we review all facets of perception, presence, computer vision, digital twins and ultimately synthetic reality while celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the Matrix.
All of this leads to a reimagining of the 4 P’s of product, price, place, promotion to the new 4P’s of Plan, Predictive, Proxy & Pervasive. Finally, we will discuss the actual date when we will see multi-modal interfaces at scale. Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on Twitter & Instagram and subscribe via YouTube.
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.
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 Empower, Exponential 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.
Evanta CMO Summit
Evanta CMO Summit
Evanta CMO Summit
Evanta CMO Summit
Evanta CMO Summit
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 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 of CMO’s and I really enjoyed the hour long session + Q&A.
If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.
For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to Empower, Exponential 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.