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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




Hard to believe after three full days of events that we could bring more education, networking and fun to our clients, sponsors and friends, but via our newest SXSW event, Geekfest, we once again delivered. This post will focus on the Future of Tech and Marketing portion of the event with speakers Zita Cassizzi of Toms Shoes, Becky Brown of Intel and Pete Blackshaw of Nestle.

Here is a little more background and some key take-aways for each:

Zita Cassizzi is the Chief Digital Officer at TOMS.  She joined TOMS in 2012 and is currently the Global Chief Digital Officer. She is responsible for all things digital including the P&L, social, mobile, customer experience, web development as well as building out the digital international presence. Zita is a dynamic leader with over 20 years of experience in creating and leading global businesses, marketing and global e-commerce. She loves creating global strategies, solving complex business challenges based on data and analytics, and building high-performing teams and businesses as a result. Zita is passionate about women’s issues. During her 16 years at Dell and now at TOMS, she serves as a co-founder of a women’s networking organization.

Zita Cassizzi

Zita opened up by talking about taking technology and leveraging it for the sake of better customer service. And even that starts with some basic grounding tenets:

  • You don’t own your brand.
  • Your customers thoughts and emotions about your brand are more important
  • You must inspire and collaborate with your fans in co-creating brand stories and content with you, making them participants and leading stars
  • You should empower via site, social media to create and foster a sense of community and belonging both online and offline

One of the lenses Tom’s uses for curating their customer experience is via #travelingtoms and #tomsholidaycheer via photos. Online storytelling at its finest.

Another major component of tapping technology to empower the service of their customers is through creating events and moments (experiences) that connect their fans to the brand online and offline. They also leverage diverse online and offline touchpoints (stores, Instagram, installations) and ultimately through technologies like augmented reality.

My favorite point the Zita made is her stressing of the importance of delivering “memorable moments”  thus inspiring and motivating their customers to take action. This should create a dialog in the physical and online world.

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Becky Brown is the vice president in the Global Marketing and Communications organization and director of the Digital Marketing and Media Group at Intel Corporation. She has overall responsibility for Intel’s “connected customer” experience, which encompasses the company’s digital marketing and advertising investments and strategies. Brown leads a global team defining Intel’s roles and investments in a breadth of media, developing relationships across the advertising and digital ecosystem, and building marketing capabilities and solutions to connect the customer journey.

Becky Brown

I love the fact that at an event called “Geekfest” where many of the speakers drilled down on how technology was helping us/changing us, Becky asked us to take a step back and think about the importance of People and Process versus being overly focused on technology and tools.

As part of her thought process, Becky talked about the fact that she turned over 30% of her team last year. Some of the new skill sets she is acquiring include:

  • Expertise vs. generalists
  • Trained vs. acquired
  • Strategic hires (data scientist, customer experience, operations)
  • Comfortable with data and technology
  • New vocabulary
  • Deepen partnership with IT

Becky also noted that she loves hiring Millenials because of their curiosity and the fact that they are really good at asking questions (inquiry mode).

During her talk, one of the visuals she shared really hammered home her message of there being an overabundance of tools (below).

tools

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Pete Blackshaw is the the Vice President of  Digital and Social Media at Nestlé, S.A. Leading global digital strategies for the top FMCG. Pete established the Digital Acceleration Team (DAT) and the Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost (SVIO). DAT is an 8-month digital immersion program for 12 aspiring leaders around the globe, that has now been replicated in 10 markets in Nestlé. SVIO is Nestlé’s connection to the innovation ecosystem in  Silicon Valley, tasked with identifying and leveraging leading digital partners to enhance the health and wellness of consumers. Pete previously served as CMO of  NM Incite, a  Nielsen-McKinsey social media research venture, and earlier, helped Procter & Gamble win Ad Age’s “Interactive Marketer of the Year” distinction. He is the author of  Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3000 (Doubleday), founder of PlanetFeedback.com, co-founder of  the Word of  Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and former Chairman of  the Board for the National Council of  the Better Business Bureau. He  was awarded the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) “Great Minds” distinction in 2010.

Pete BlackshawPete’s talk focused on his company, Nestle’s Innovation Trifecta which talked about:

  • Digital Acceleration Team’s (DAT) model and programming
  • Silicon Valley Outpost
  • Enterprise social media

Pete’s talk created an interesting juxtaposition to that of Becky’s (a technologist talking about the fact that we need to focus more on people and process versus tools and technology). As the head of digital at one of the largest consumer package good companies in the world, he sounded every bit technologist talking about speed, agility, start-ups and digital acceleration.

Pete did echo his belief in the importance of many of the same values and skill sets that Becky mentioned during his talk with a premium being placed on sharing.  In particularly, he stressed sharing across global markets.

Lastly, Pete made a request from the group asking them for help working with Nestles to bring new, innovative solutions into the enterprise. Sounds like a good bridge to the PreCommerce panel on adopting and scaling innovation, Josh Kampel of Techonomy, led the other day.

It was my absolute pleasure to co-host our very first GeekFest with our president, Bob Pearson, and bring together some of the most interesting and technical minds for a great discussion on Open Source, Security, Digital Marketing and Emerging Tech.  This post will focus on our Open Source Software panel, with speakers Joe McCann, Matt Franklin and Boyd Hemphill.

Joe McCann

Joe McCann is a co-founder/CEO of NodeSource. He is a hacker, tinkerer, builder and breaker with more than 13 years of web, mobile and software development experience. He has a special fondness for Node.JS because he can rapidly prototype an idea within minutes. These speedy ideation sessions fed into his desire to help Fortune 500 companies build actual products that allow technology to be utilized in real world scenarios. Joe has a broad background ranging from being a techno DJ to working on Wall Street. The perspective he brings to technology is rather unique and unconventional. Joe is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit, actively promoting emerging technologies and relevant business use cases to bring pragmatism to futurism.

Joe opened the discussion by talking about the macro-trend of unbundling, using cable tv subscriptions as an analog for the future of app development.  In 2014 we reached an inflection point wherein there were as many people with Cable TV vs Internet Subscribersbroadband Internet connections to their homes as there were cable TV subscribers – more and more of those customers want to pay for only the television services they use.  Similarly companies are unbundling – eBay and PayPal split up, Symantec has created Veritas to unbundle their information tech business, and HP announced that they will be splitting into two companies.
Node.JS is well suited for this move in the app space – centered around the idea of creating smaller, unbundled services, which interact via api “contracts” and creating smaller, more agile and manageable micro-services designed to scale.
Joe closed out with the point that every company is ultimately a tech company and must learn to use technology to the betterment of their business.  By moving away from macro-services and large, unwieldy codebases they can become more responsive to the changes in their industry.

Matt Franklin

Our own Matt Franklin is a technical and business leader with experience leading efforts in open source investment, software architecture, big data analytics, identity management, agile software development, service oriented architecture, and social business integration.

As an advocate of open source software, Matt is always looking to apply business practices that pragmatically leverage and contribute to the open source software community. He is an active member of the Apache Software Foundation and participates in local and global open source outreach as an organizer of BarCamps, meet-ups and conferences.

Matt gave the group a great introduction into the Apache Software Foundation, the largest foundation dedicated to the creation and support of Open Source Software.  He introduced us to the mission and purpose of the ASF and the pivotal support it brings to open source projects.  The Apache Way, although often seen by outsiders as a heavyweight process, has been honed over the years to give projects the support they need to flourish.

“The incubator project is the entry path into the Apache Software Foundation for projects and codebases wishing to become part of the Foundation’s efforts.”

He also introduced us to a few projects currently in incubation and some new projects coming into Apache.
  • Kylin is a SQL-style interface on Hadoop recently open sourced from eBay
  • NiFi is a powerful visual system to process and distribute data
  • Tinkerpop is an open source graph computing framework working on it’s first official Apache release
  • Zepplin provides a beautiful data-driven, interactive and collaborative documents with SQL, Scala and more
  • HTrace provides a mechanism for easily tracing processes in distributed systems
  • Ignite is an in-memory data processing fabric designed to deliver uncompromised performance

Boyd

Boyd Hemphill, the Technology Evangelist for StackEngine, is a DevOps thought leader and builder of communities.  With over 25 years of technical experience, he has served as:Implementor of the Theory of Constraints as it applies to the Software Delivery Life Cycle, Automator of tasks that need doing more than once, Systems architect who provides ongoing vision, strategic guidance and mentorship for development teams to ensure long-term systems and data integrity, and Enabler of small teams to set and accomplish large goals.

Boyd is a force for good in the Austin Developer Community, serving as a mentor for many startups and developers.  He can be frequently found running or speaking at Meetups for Austin DevOps, Docker Austin, and other groups, volunteering with Geek Austin events, such as Data Days Texas, and is anchoring the upcoming Container Days Conference.

Boyd talked to us about two upcoming tidal waves – Docker and Lamdba.  Docker is a hot topic among the infrastructure community, which takes virtualization to the next level enabling unheard of level of efficiency.  Docker is moving fast, having gone from preview to production release in under 18 months, and it’s already fully supported by AWS and Google Cloud.  Lambda is a new service announced at Amazon’s latest Re:Invent conference, which creates an ecosystem of event-triggered micro-services.  This allows code to be run only when needed and the attached infrastructure to be billed in sub-second increments.  Together these innovations will dramatically change the way in which applications are created, and with the improved efficiency significantly lower the cost of running an infrastructure.

My favorite point from Boyd’s talk was around disposable environments.  SysAdmins used to treat their infrastructure personally – each server was hand built, lovingly named and carefully cared for.  With the advent of Cloud Computing we’re now treating infrastructure as cattle instead of pets – servers come up and down automatically, do their work then go away.  With micro services and Docker the movement is now to ants instead of cattle – they are so disposable you don’t even notice that you’re stepping on them.  At StackEngine, Boyd is building the tools that make the ants all march in formation.

A huge thanks to all of our speakers at GeekFest.  We’ll be posting the videos from that and our other SXW2O events soon.

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

A Brief Recap of the Digital Marketing and Design Panel – part of Saturday’s GeekFest events

In a continuation of the day’s theme of emerging trends in the technology and communication landscape, this panel featured experts sharing their experiences and perspectives on new ways to foster connections. While each of our four experts shared their very approaches, all of them were all rooted in active listening and seeking more meaningful connection points.

Learning from each other

Daina (1)

Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business for Twitter, shared her personal passion for seeking connection through identifying the unique perspectives different team members share in approaching leadership and problem-solving. Middleton has been studying communication phenomena in different time periods, specifically the Old West, when traditional male and female work roles expanded because of need and the harsh environment. Her research has focused on identifying how to create stronger teams by recognizing and valuing the different approaches women and men generally take in the workplace.

Middleton organizes these different approaches with the monikers ‘grace’ and ‘grit’, with ‘grace’ representing the attributes females tend to employ, and ‘grit’ representing the male approach. Middleton explained that, “women use communication as a tool to enhance social connections and create relationships,” while “men use communication to achieve tangible outcomes and establish power.” While neither approach is patently right or wrong, each can be polarizing or limiting. It is only by listening to each other, and working to each team members’ best strengths that we overcome the limitations of a single viewpoint and have the greatest chance to succeed.

Pattern identification on social

Matthew Zito

Matthew Zito, VP of Products at Synthesio, shared his approach to listening to and exploring social patterns and data to create behavior-based profiles of customers and more individual buying journeys. These highly personalized profiles offer insights into customer preferences and personalities in a way that goes beyond demographics or clicks, and demonstrate a much deeper need for marketers to get to know their users as humans, not just buyers.

Zito shared examples of how profiling customer interests (beyond just interest in your product), brands can align their marketing plans with more personal and directed customer journey steps. These plans can even include specific times of day that will be most relevant to your customers. As Zito says, “don’t just measure your customers, understand your customers.”

An anthropological approach

Jon Kolko

The best way to learn how to help customers is to immerse yourself in their personal experiences through living them – challenges, successes, and

all.  That’s the message from Jon Kolko, Director and Founder of the Austin Design Center, speaking about how to listen better and use empathy to create products people love. Sharing some of the principles of his newly-released book, Well Designed, Kolko shared some of his experiences in designing products that are natively customer-first.

For Kolko and his team, customer-first means literally living with your end-user to get hands-on with their experience, hear how they absorb the world in their own words. Kolko shared that in one project, this immersive process involved living with college students, recording and analyzing their comments, and then designing an app to offer specific recommendations about the job application and recruiting process. This work highlighted expectation gaps between the students and recruiters who were filling jobs. Without having that deep experience, Kolko said the team would not have learned certain key insights, including what messages to focus on, what platforms and language to use, and how to make the app useful, while still being fun and appealing to students.

Learn by watching

Kurt Holstein

In a presentation called ‘Personalization – Are the ads from the movie Minority Report almost here?’ Kurt Holstein, President of Azoic Ventures, shared the current status of dynamic ‘DOOH’, or Digital Out of Home display advertising. This is the kind of advertising that is often placed in large environments like Times Square, but is also emerging in smaller footprints like interactive digital signage (think directional kiosks) and in proximity sensors like beacons. In keeping with the theme of learning from listening, Holstein shared the benefits of these types of dynamic ads – both to the marketer and to the end user.

End users will soon have the opportunity to have a much more personal experience with a brand based on customization (assuming they opt in) to share data with brands. In its current form, these beacons and personal approaches rely on apps and active input from the customer, and are best for driving offers or location-based information.

For marketers, new technology like Active Camera Technology (ACT) can recognize visitors and respond to visible demographic data. Age, gender, ethnicity can be combined with location, time of day, dwell time, as well as more individual characteristics like facial emotion markers – all to allow a display to respond and react to the identified characteristics. Combining the more personal beacon technology with the ACT will allow marketers to achieve the ‘Minority Report’ level of personalization – but only if our customers want it. It will be up to us to keep listening to them to balance promotion and privacy and foster good relationships.

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