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There is a saying… “if some is good, more is better.” Often, this saying is meant ironically because it is rarely true. But in the case of our 2015 events leading up to (and slightly overlapping) SXSW Interactive, we here at W2O Group were extremely pleased with the results. For the Readers Digest version of our events, you can check out the content capsule below (it includes a few select videos of our speakers, our PreCommerce Spotify playlist, speaker presentations and pictures from numerous events). We also led up to our events with some speaker interviews which I recommend checking out here.


We kicked things off this year with our second annual VIP Round Table — an event reserved for speakers and some of our more senior level clients. Held on the 55th floor of the prestigious Austonian building, the 40 person event was led by W2O Group President, Bob Pearson and tech mogul, David Kirkpatrick of Techonomy.

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The two and a half hour, facilitated discussion touched on topics such as innovation, the future of apps, security and mobile advertising. The day rounded out with an appearance by none other than one of the hardest working men online and on camera, Al Roker (Below is the episode of Live from Stubbs Jon Harris and I filmed with Al).

One of our two signature events this year was our fifth annual PreCommerce Summit. And while each of our past four summits have gotten better than the year before, this was the year where we really stepped up our game the most significantly. Not only was the venue a cut above (thank you Austin City Music Hall) but our event production team (huge props to Erin Disney and Team Clink) took our game to a new level. And then there were the speakers. I’ve pulled out some key quotes below but I would highly recommend spending some time reading the recaps/watching the videos for each.

 

 

 

Here are the speakers (note links to their blog recaps and a link to their presentations to the right of each name):

On Friday, we held our second annual digital brunch. This is technically our third or fourth but the second in our new office with food trucks and music. This is a great time for our clients, neighbors, partners and employees to mix and mingle, enjoy some breakfast tacos, Bloody Marys, take in a demo or two, all while basking in the warm Austin sun.

Here are a few pics of the festivities:

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Brunch

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This year, in addition to our PreCommerce Summit, we decided to take a page out of our earlier SXSW days where we had a smaller, more intimate room. At our first ever Geekfest moderated by Bob Pearson and our CTO, John Cunningham, we featured 16 speakers covering topics that ranged from the Apache Project to resonant charging to the importance of diversity in tech. It was a lot of good food for thought in a power packed four hour span. We will have the videos for these talks up soon but in the meantime, you can thumb through the blog recaps below.

Last but not least in our string of events this year was the Geekacue. It’s hard to believe bu this was our sixth annual Geekacue and also the first year we didn’t host our event at an actual BBQ joint. For the last three years, we had the good fortune of taking over Franklin’s BBQ (owner and chef, Aaron Franklin, was recently named as a finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award). This year, we made the tough call due to space constraints and took our party over to the elegant confines of the Charles Johnson House. This of course meant that we needed to find some great BBQ and likely that we would need some entertainment as well. Mission accomplished on both fronts as we were fortunate enough to land new-but-not-so-new, Terry Blacks BBQ, as our bearers of brisket. The short version of the story is that twin brothers, Mike and Mark Black opened Terry Black’s in Austin in late 2014. However, the namesake of their new establishment is their father, Terry Black, whose father, Edgar, opened now legendary “Black’s” in the BBQ capitol of Texas (Lockhart) over 83 years ago.

In addition to some amazing BBQ, we also had the luxury of not one… not two… but three bands. Some of you may have only seen Monte Montgomery who opened or Black Joe Lewis who was the feature act. But for those lucky enough to stick around, we also had the red hot blue grass band, Whiskey Shivers, upstairs at the after party. All three were amazing and left us wanting more.

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During the Geekacue, we also kept our clients, partners and friends-of-W2O entertained with a dance party booth (video below).

We also brought back one of the staples of our Geekacue, the photo booth. We’ll have all the photos available soon on our Facebook page but in the meantime, here are some gems to give you a flavor.

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Key stats across all our events:

  • We had over 5,200 tweets tagged with our hashtag #sxw2o (I encourage you to scroll through the content there — it will make you smarter… and hungrier, I promise).
  • W2O Group held eight different events this year — our most ever. Look for that number to be closer to ten next year.
  • There were over 3,300 registrations for our events. Somewhere between 40-50% of those folks showed up plus walk ups. Subtracting out overlap, we had roughly 1,000 unique folks not including our employees attending our events.
  • There were over 60 briskets consumed at our Geekacue. Okay, I’m making that number up but it was somewhere in that neighborhood.

Last but not least, none of this would be possible without our wonderful partners/sponsors. They not only help fund (or in the case of alcohol, provide in kind donations) but they are also integral parts of our events as speakers, attendees, photographers and avid Tweeters. We appreciate you all and thank you for your support Sysomos, Clarabridge, Bayer, Datasift, Sprinklr, Business Wire, Synthesio, Sullivan Wine, Deep Eddy Vodka and Thirsty Planet.


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We just completed an awesome series of events during SXSW in Austin.  We heard from leaders of key companies (Intel, Verizon), leading online companies (Twitter, Google),  leading thinkers (David Kirkpatrick/Techonomy, VJ Yoshi), leading innovators (Witricity) and leaders in media (Al Roker, Bloomberg).

We created this content capsule with our friends at NextWorks so that we could share the presentations, blog posts, videos and photos with you directly.  This is designed so that you can share it internally with your teams or simply share it with your network via social channels.

On behalf of our partners at Sysomos, DataSift, Clarabridge, Business Wire, SprinklrBayer and Synthesio, we hope you can join us next year at our PreCommerce Summit, GeekFest and Geek-a-Cue.  In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the summary of what we have learned from some of the smartest people in our business.

Enjoy, Bob




We closed out the PreCommerce Summit with a far-reaching heck of a futurist discussion when David Kirkpatrick’s interviewed VJ Joshi.

David: What did you do after leaving HP?

VJ: I wanted to learn about Healthcare and startups. Working with startups in terms both consulting and some investment.

David: What are you most excited about?

VJ: Data insights and intelligence; genomics, nanotechnology and robotics. Those trends will change everything. Those are the boundaries where innovation is going to happen.

VJ Joshi interview with David Kirkpatrick

David: Where are the advances? What kind of things are possible?

VJ: There’s progress in Tool automation; also getting into better understanding our subconscious. How we see things, how we feel things; virtual reality and Oculus Rift/ virtual reality; another area of interest: changing the neural pathways; How to change behavior (drug addicts)? Change the way of thinking, create new neural pathways.

Learning a language in two months, maybe even two days. How we learn can be enhanced dramatically. Not science fiction, things will happen within 10 years.

Think about the Terminator point of view; seeing related information about people in real time, customized ads in retail products, etc.

Augmented Reality: If kids can play with 3D models, that’s a way to enhance education; Magic Leap technology blending technology in real experience.

David: How is this relevant to Marketing?

VJ: Technology could enable new ways to reach an audience in ways that are deeper than we think about now: How can I affect a potential customer’s thought process?

Worth worrying about manipulation?

I’m on the optimistic side of the equation. Think of VR in terms of military tactical preparation. Understand people are concerned with privacy. But there are many possibilities.

David: Know you’re working with companies re: implants. Can you talk about it?

VJ: Cochlear implants are one example; Eye implants to affect rods and cones to improve vision; Ex: Rabbits can’t see red, but they can with these implant’s; Ex: Seeing through fog; improving upon our natural capabilities.

Increasing life extension, improving quality of life are health areas worth focusing on.

David: Intersection of technology and humans… how does automation and robotics displace jobs?

VJ: I have a more positive view, am more optimistic; it is complementary. We will learn important skills faster; It will enable us to work on more important things; solve bigger problems.

David: How does education change?

VJ: It opens up lifelong learning, no more 8 years of going to school. Replacing certain jobs will allow people to focus on solving hard problems. People will get more specialized learning, they will focus more on niche areas.

David: Regarding your years at HP: What was the best learning?

VJ: Take risks on people; empower them to focus on innovation; when I took over printing in 2001: people said you can’t grow. VJ thought they could grow 6% that year and beyond. We had great people to figure out higher-end printing; faster printing, 3D printing, etc.

Tech landscape: So many companies paralyzed by fear from innovation coming from startups. Do you worry about it?

I do worry about it. Companies aren’t focused enough on true innovation. Research is tied too close to earnings and profits these days. Too focused on the near term, meeting quarterly revenue and profit numbers.

David: End of industries: Traditional models don’t apply; Uber and Airbnb are disrupting businesses they arent even in. Do you believe big businesses should think about that? Definitely.

Audience Q&A:

Are you saying William Gibson right?

In terms of possiibilities, yes. Check out a company called Nanovision; William Gibson’s vision won’t be accurate, but aspects will be there.

What do you think about Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift?

Augmented reality and virtual reality are sexy topics. Already real applications happening in military; repairing jets, VJ: seeing the manual while you are working; Facebook and others are thinking about next-generation computing technology;

David: virtual and augmented reality distinction will go away… when Zuckerberg bought Oculus, he said he was buying it’s the next generation of computing; Microsoft HoloLens. Google is working on similar technology. Started with Google Glass.

What about location-based technology?

More advances on current technology… Won’t need maps when visiting new cities; Dynamic ads that are tailored to you as an individual.

What about natural language speech recognition? Google Hiring Ray Kurzweil

VJ: Yes, it is huge, but it is related to virtual reality machines. Lots of peripherals will emerge, just like the PC space.

Linguistics based approach vs. Programming language approach; Microsoft and Google are working on real-time language translation. Effectiveness will continue to improve.

The next economy were all these technologies converge is the Molecular Economy. That’s where we are heading;

Google Glass: Going into a store seeing personalized ads; Creates privacy issues.  Are you concerned about that?

Would you wear glasses if they allowed you to see through fog? Yes. Adding useful capability is key.

Technology is in the hearts and minds of the people who use it. In your view, what are the threats to innovation;

David: Security is an issues. Macro-point of communication; ICANN is really worried that countries won’t use it; different standards; the app economy mirrors that from a content perspective; but app development is siloed; that fragmentation is real; VJ: I hope we are still appreciate nature; the beauty of outdoor activity and the physical world we live in. I hope we don’t ever lose our appreciation of that.

David Kirkpatrick (CEO – Techonomy)

Bio: Founder, host and CEO of Techonomy, David Kirkpatrick is a journalist, commentator about technology, and author of the bestselling book “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World,” published in 32 countries. He spent 25 years at Fortune, and founded and hosted its Brainstorm and Brainstorm Tech conferences. Inaddition to writing to Techonomy, he contributes to Forbes and Vanity Fair. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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VJ Joshi (Former EVP Imaging & Printing – HP)

Bio: VJ Joshi served as an Executive Vice President of Imaging and Printing Group at Hewlett-Packard Company from 2002 to 2012, and served as its Executive Vice President of Imaging and Personal Systems Group. He retired in 2012 after a 32-year career at Hewlett Packard Company. Since 1989, he held various management positions in Imaging and Printing Systems, such as Phogenix Imaging LLC and Immy Inc.. He has been a Director of Harris Corporation, Director at Yahoo! Inc., and serves as a member of Dean’s Advisory Council at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego.

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For more information on our SXW2O events and speakers, please visit our website: http://w2oevents.com

In case you weren’t able to livestream our 5th Annual PreCommerce Summit here in Austin, here is a quick summary of Bob Pearson interviewing “The Facebook Effect” author David Kirkpatrick.  Below David shares his thoughts on his very first impression of Mark Zuckerberg, his thoughts on cyber security and what he thinks China is doing right in mobile, technology and social networking.

David shares his thoughts about Mark Zuckerberg.

David talks about the recent Sony hack and claims that no company is actually safe.

David discusses why China is far ahead when it comes to mobile, technology and social networking.

Bob Pearson (President – W2O Group)

Bob Pearson, President W2O GroupBio: Bob Pearson is the president of W2O Group. Before joining W2O Group, Bob was the vice president of communities and conversations at Dell Inc, where he was responsible for developing an industry-leading approach to the use of social media. Prior to Dell, Bob worked for Novartis Pharmaceuticals as Head of Global Corporate Communications and as Head of Global Pharma Communications, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. Before that he was the President of the Americans for GCI and was previously Vice President of Global Public Affairs & Media Relations at Phone Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi Aventis). Bob is also an author, “Precommerce,” frequent speaker and blogger on social media, as well an instructor for Rutgers center for management and development and the Syracuse Center for Social Commerce.

 

David Kirkpatrick (CEO – Techonomy)

David KirkpatrickBio: Founder, host and CEO of Techonomy, David Kirkpatrick is a journalist, commentator about technology, and author of the bestselling book “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World,” published in 32 countries. He spent 25 years at Fortune, and founded and hosted its Brainstorm and Brainstorm Tech conferences. Inaddition to writing to Techonomy, he contributes to Forbes and Vanity Fair. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

 

 

 

For more information on our SXW2O events and speakers, please visit our website: http://w2oevents.com

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that takes place every January in Las Vegas is always equal parts amazing, informative and overwhelming. Many of the top CEOs and CMOs of the biggest companies in the world show up to speak, network, learn and do deals. As a result, thousands of start-ups, agency people, journalists and influencers show up to “fish where the fish” are. This year alone saw 170,000 industry professionals with 3,600 exhibitors on 2.2 million square feet of exhibition space.

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With so any voices and hundreds of different events happening from 7:00 in the morning until 4:00 AM Sunday through Friday, it’s hard to keep up with the fire hose of information. To that end, we at W2O Group have found sometimes holding smaller, focused, events during bigger events like CES, Mobile World Congress and SXSW helps our clients, partners and company leaders learn, discuss and synthesize key trends being discussed at these giant conferences. CES 2015 was no exception as our company partnered with one of the brightest minds in the Tech industry, David Kirkpatrick, and his company, Techonomy, to hold a private meeting with ten clients/friends of W2O last Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

At the round table event, David kicked us off by sharing observations from trends he covered as a journalist at Techonomy combined with insights gleaned from several of the talks he conducted at CES. This included a Keynote panel David led the day before with Cisco CEO, John Chambers, Comcast CEO and President, Neil Smit and Bosch Chairman, Werner Struth, Bosch.

David’s talk featured a few key themes including the concept of the “end of industries” or the diminishing of bright lines where they previously existed; the shift of power from the center to the edges that players like Facebook are facilitating; companies’ increasing obsession with innovation; and an increasing dominance of China as a player in the tech world. One of the boldest statements during David’s discussion came from his keynote panel the prior day where John Chambers claimed that “in 10 years it’s predicted that 40% of the Fortune500 companies will no longer exist.” Chambers — and Kirkpatrick’s points were, you must disrupt to survive.

While we didn’t record our session in order to offer a free flowing discussion among the senior level brands that attended, I did take copious notes during David’s talk. You will see that they roll up to some of the high level concepts I’ve called out out above:

  • Industries are converging e.g. Technology and Health. You can find a company like Celera (biotech) and Autodesk (software) are both mapping the human genome. Increasingly, companies will find non-traditional competitors (and partners) in their own backyards.
  • Every company is a software company. David cited a recent post by NY Times writer, Farhad Manjoo, that talked about the need for companies to focus on software vs hardware (ironic given the dominance of hardware on display at CES).
  •  One of the oddities of CES is that it doesn’t feature smart phones — Mobile World Congress is where that conversation happens. Key trends that David noted from this year’s CES including the Internet of Things (IoT). David reinforced that IoT is a fascinating and important trend (including wearables).
    • IoT – will literally connect everything in life (stomach to airport control tower)
    • Unilever has 2 billion users – how can they use a product that has text on it that people pick up every day. Could they become a communications company? David said that sensors will get cheap enough to put on every product down the road.
  • The companies that have the longest histories are the ones that can mutate themselves the fastest. They have learned over time how to mutate themselves. Small group of dinosaurs that are “built to last.” Getting harder for even the good companies to evolve.
  • 2014 is being called “the year people stood up.” Hong Kong, Mexico and Ukraine and Burkina Faso – all of which had people rise up using social media (all countries where Facebook is super strong).
  • More on companies obsession with innovation:
    • If you go to any city with over 300,000 people in the world – you will find a startup neighborhood with an incubator, VCs etc. The number of opportunities emerging is incredible and threat to incumbents.
    • Trends: starting internal incubators (Samsung), partnering with companies (Tech Stars), coming together with industries (fashion) and companies are coming together to co-innovate.
    • There is a company in NYC called Bionic. Their job is to help big companies innovate.
    • Companies like GE are working to adopt a startup mentality and focusing on an imperative for speed (more here from David’s interview with Beth Comstock).
    • Numerous companies are creating innovation centers in Silicon Valley.
  • On China
    • China can’t be talked about enough. Two poles of tech innovation in the future – China and US. Important to keep an eye on Chinese social media/ecommerce sites like Alibaba, Tencent (just opened a bank), Baidu. They are the next “Apple, Google, Facebooks.”
    • PRC has extraordinary support from the government although their lack of diversity hurts them (US as an example has drawn on attracting some of the brightest minds in the world over the past few centuries — China has been relatively insular).
    • They are innovating through copying. The more they copy other countries/companies products, the better they get at making faster, cheaper and more innovative alternatives.

Following David’s talk, we had a 20 minute Q&A where leaders from the automotive, telecommunications, financial services and other industries drilled down on some of David’s talking points. This led to more thought provoking concepts:

  • Uber/AirBnB – neither of these companies are in the industry they operate in (both are marketplaces vs. a taxi or hotel). AirBnB is already doing restaurants. Ability to tap into the capacity of society. The more of these platforms that emerge, the more people can make money.
  • David worries that the pace of change today puts people in jeopardy more so than in any other generation.
  • For some large companies, people aren’t just interested in the job (good or bad) their front line employees like technicians do, but rather the role they play in the community the company serves.
  • The Dollar Shave Club was cited as a company that is truly disrupting the shaving industry. Their product may or may not be better, but their delivery model is significantly different than that of P&G or Unilever.
  • David’s take on IoT: someone needs to come along and organize IoT (David thinks Google is in the best position to do this). We probably need the government to come in and provide regulations that facilitate someone like Google curating their data.
  • You can go into your Google Maps and see everywhere you’ve ever been as long as you have sensor turned on. If it’s not turned on, you can’t use services like maps.
  • Privacy is a cultural thing (not nearly as big a deal as in Asia as it is in US).
  • Right now, China is growing at 7% and are crying (we would kill to grow at 7%). It helps to have 1.3 billion people/test market (closed).
  • In China – company knows well enough how to unfairly advantage its own businesses (US doesn’t according to David).

Last but not least, W2O President, Bob Pearson walked through 12 thought provoking trends (technology and marketing) with the group that facilitated some fascinating discussion. Bob’s deck is embedded below via Slideshare.

All in all, a thought provoking day building on some thought provoking time spent at CES. Have additional questions based on what you read? Let me know and I can elaborate or can reach out to David to get more information.