Dallas Business Journal Tech Titan Interview

I was recently interviewed by the Dallas Business Journal for the upcoming 2019 Tech Titans awards show. I am a finalist in the technology advocate category and looking forward to the event! Here is a link to the full interview.

Here is a repost of the full article

Tom Edwards of BlackFin360 is a finalist in the Technology Advocate Award category for the 2019 Tech Titan Awards. Category winners will be announced at an awards event on Friday, Aug. 23. For more information about the awards event, click here.

As founder of BlackFin360, which covers marketing and emerging tech trends, Tom Edwards has been recognized as a marketing technology trailblazer as well as a leading futurist and speaker.

“I focus on helping organizations understand how consumer behavior is shaping emerging technology and vice versa as technology is culture and culture is technology,” Edwards said.

What started as a technology blog back in 2007 BlackFin360 now serves as a “a repository of emerging technology” thought leadership. As a keynote speaker and technology advocate, Edwards says he helps organizations understand the connection between consumer behavior and emerging technology — from the integration of artificial intelligence, spatial computing and the rise of multi-modal interfaces.

Edwards was also Chief Digital/Innovation Officer for Epsilon where he said he “became fully immersed in all facets of data, AI and technology integration.”

We asked Edwards additional questions about technology. The questions have been edited for length, grammar and clarity.

What is the biggest challenge facing your organization in 2019?

TOM – The biggest challenge is less about my organization and what I see across the Fortune 1000 organizations that I have the opportunity to speak to. There are three primary areas that I consistently see. They are: data puddles, ignoring AI, lack of innovation focus.

  • Data puddles refers to a comment I heard at one of the world’s largest consumer beverage companies. Most organizations strive for data lakes and data is key to unlocking personalization and connecting with consumers. The reality is most organizations don’t have a consolidated approach to leveraging various forms of data, be it consumer centric data of culture, data of identity and data of intent. Having a strategy for how to consolidate and action data vs. simply collecting is key.
  • The second challenge is the lack of preparation and consideration of the impact of artificial intelligence on the workplace. This goes beyond system integration, and has to do with impact on culture and how to build a culture around the idea of intelligence augmentation vs. disruption.
  • The third is a lack of aligning innovation initiatives with core goals of the organization. It’s incredibly important to not just focus on short term revenue, but also generating ideas and empowering the organization to bring innovative ideas forward. 

What is something people aren’t thinking about that will change technology in the next few years?

TOM – To me the biggest shift, especially for marketers is that we will be moving from consumer-centric marketing technology to system and algorithm-based solutions. We will see virtual assistants continue to move to the center of the operating system and we will see the rise of multi-modal computing at scale. This includes voice, vision and touch, where our environment adapts to us versus us adapting to it.

Can you recall the moment you decided what you wanted to do professionally?

TOM – My first memory is of the original Star Wars movie. All of my friends wanted to be Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. I liked those characters, but I was enamored with the droids R2-D2 and C3PO and how they and the rest of the sentient tech characters seemed to enable the main cast every step of the way. The technology seamlessly folded into their everyday journeys and that stuck with me all throughout childhood and into early adulthood. When the technology revolution hit with the rise of personal computers, mobile phones and software, I knew that is where I wanted to take my career. 

Who is your technology hero?

TOM – My technology hero is Hal Brierley. Hal is the CEO of the Brierley Group. He has served as President and CEO of Epsilon, was the founder of e-Rewards, Inc, and the Executive Chairman of Brierley & Partners and he currently serves on the board of an AI start-up (Oculus360) that has been an outstanding strategic partner. I admire that work and career of Hal, his impact to Dallas via job creation and his approach to business is something to be admired. 

What should we be teaching children about technology in school right now that we aren’t?

TOM – The future is going to be about augmented intelligence and preparing children, not just how to code, but also how to use various aspects of machine learning to solve problems. Instead of teaching simple math, it’s important to understand specific computing models and concepts for how systems learn. Now, these are reserved for Computer Science courses on the college level, but the sooner we can prepare children for the coming shift of intelligent systems the better.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 via YouTube, Twitter, Instagram

2019 OnCon Icon Awards Interview

Recently, I was awarded the 2019 OnCon Icon Marketing Trailblazer & Marketing Contributor awards. Post-event, I was interviewed by the OnCon team and we discussed a number of topics such as what it meant to win the awards, what put the nominations over the top and recommendations for 2020.

The full interview can be read via OnCon

Below is a repost of the interview questions.

What does it mean to you to be voted on as the winner by such an esteemed jury of your peers?

It was an honor just to be nominated. To know that such an esteemed jury of my peers gravitated towards me as a candidate is incredibly humbling. I have an immense amount of respect for the members of the jury and the other nominees across categories. I am grateful that the jury felt my contributions to the industry were worthy of recognition. Thanks again to the jury!

You had some very tough competition in each of the categories. How does it feel to be recognized over such an amazing group of your peers for the two wins?

With a field of 9 incredibly talented nominees, the trailblazer category was highly competitive! Each nominee represented great credentials and accomplishments and each individual brought a unique perspective and examples for how they are driving innovation and creativity. To hear my name called was surprising, exhilarating, and satisfying at the same time.  

What do you feel put your nomination over the top?

I would assume that my passion for creating content and speaking regularly as a marketing technology futurist for the industry over the past 11 years at Blackfin360.com combined with a near obsession for the intersection of consumer behavior and emerging technology were factors in the marketing contributor award.

For marketing trailblazer, having a natural predisposition towards aligning trends, use cases and emerging technology into solutions that drive clients business were key contributors. From publishing yearly trends, covering key events, mapping trends for clients, developing products and solutions, speaking regularly at industry events and applying the latest technology in new and compelling ways was hopefully impactful for the jury.  

Would you recommend your peers to apply for nomination, and why?

I would highly recommend that anyone in the marketing space recommend their peers for an OnCon Icon honor. Many awards today are tied to organizations and marketing campaigns. The OnCon Icon Awards provides the opportunity to recognize organizations and individuals for their contributions to the industry and have their peers recognize individual contributions in addition to company recognition. It’s a great mix and I was incredibly excited for both my organization and for the opportunity to pick up individual awards as well. Apply for, or be reminded to apply for the 2020 Awards here. 

How would you describe the awards evening?

The event was held at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. The venue in and of itself was impressive and a great location for an awards event. From the pre-event mixer to the red carpet with my wife, the energy continued to build as we prepared to settle in for the awards presentations.

I was immediately impressed by the brands represented and how senior the individuals were. This added to the friendly competitive atmosphere as there was a mutual respect but also a strong desire to win.

When it came time for the awards the pace of the evening was well kept and when my name was called it was a quick jaunt to the stage with a live band playing intro music. Having an opportunity to thank my wife, the jury, the other nominees and my team made the win more meaningful. I appreciated the opportunity to thank those who have made such an impact on my career over the years and are incredibly supportive.

It’s been a few days since the event, any final thoughts?

I am very grateful to have been a part of the 2019 Oncon Icon awards and would highly recommend nominating your peers for potential recognition in 2020. I am also very thankful for the support of my wife of 20 years, my agency creative tech & innovation teams (Ian, Steve, Wes, Jeremy), and the rest of the organization. Thanks again to the jury and to Sean Tomarelli for putting on such a great and memorable show. See you in 2020!

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Oncon Icon Awards

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

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

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

Marketing Trailblazer exhibits innovation, pioneering, and successful creativity.

Marketing Contributor value to the industry for sharing thought leadership.

Epsilon Agency picked up the Marketing Solution Icon award during the evening as well.

Here is the full list of winners and acceptance videos from the night. https://www.onconferences.com/marketingicon

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

Follow Tom @BlackFin360