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With this quote by Jack Welch, Bob Pearson finished his talk at the W2O PreCommerce Summit in London today. The President and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group, encouraged the audience to remain nimble to be able to adapt to future trends and changes and shared some of his insights into tomorrow’s world of brands, customers and media.

As described in his book PreCommerce, Bob sees the biggest value for brands in decreasing the distance to their customers and focus on pre-commerce phase vs. the actual point of sale: Only those who are able to listen, will be able to respond and adapt to market needs – maybe even before those needs actually exist.

The digital age definitely enabled brands to be much closer to their target audiences than ever before; however, the structures, relationships and stakeholders, as we have known them for years, will no longer exist in the future. Bob Pearson summarizes this development in four key game changing trends:

  1. Our Definition of Audience Is Changing

If we look at the 1-9-90 model, we can clearly see the former content creators and outlets are no longer as relevant in the online conversation as the 9%, which we define as brand advocates, those who spend their time inside social media channels, who are part of strong peer groups and, who add their views to existing content, that will share the future of your brand’s or company’s story. With this development, the audience is now more important than the outlet.

  1. The PESO model is flipping

As the 9% grow in importance, so does earned and shared media. This requires us to integrate a new media planning model that defines an insight-driven social media channel and influencer strategy, which roles out into campaigns, content and experiences. As part of this model, paid media amplification remains an important part to break through the “noise”, but it will follow conversations and communities more than news.

  1. Markets Don’t Wait for Campaigns Anymore

Digital conversation is dynamic and to be able to participate, brands need to be agile. Providing customers with what they need, where they need it and when they need it, is a challenge that includes our creative approach. Those brands who are able to use data and respond to trends in real-time, with content dynamically changing based on interest, will make the 365 campaign become real.

  1. Micro Segmentation Replaces “Personas”

Or in Bob’s words “We always knew that top-down persona-driven segments of “five audience types” was wrong”. With each person and each audience having their own media ecosystem, the roll-up of these ecosystems defines the media network. In order to customize content to their target audiences, brands need to understand how the audience and their attention are fragmented. Therefore, the future media leaders will excel in audience architecture.

About Bob Pearson

Bob Pearson is President and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group. Bob has a unique combination of social media, marketing and communications skills acquired during nearly 25 years at three Fortune BobPearson500 companies and a major consultancy. In 2011, he published his book “Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together”, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. He is currently working on his next book, which will be available in March 2016. “Storytizing” will focus on the importance of creating a compelling and at the same time relevant narrative for your brand.

Together with panelists Steven Overman, CMO at Eastman Kodak, Simon Shipley, Marketing and Innovation Manager at Intel, and Steve Milton, Consultant and Former Corporate Communications director at eBay, Bob Pearson investigates whether evolution is enough to stay relevant in the new digital economy.

There’s a clear need to embrace digital, but do we need to learn more about it before we start our digital agenda to ensure we do it right?

For Bob’s panelists digital is actually something that needs to be part of the mindset of an organization in order to be successful and impactful. Since the nature of the digital world is dynamic and not stable, we need to start acting, but also remain nimble to be able to respond to changes in the future.

Part of our digital transformation should also be a reevaluation of familiar questions: How do global brand behave in local markets? Do we position ourselves as the known and trusted international brand or do we adapt to local needs? Navigating between the waters of global and local has always been a challenge for companies, but when it comes to digital the core question actually diminishes – there is no local. However, we have to think through more tactical implications such as various languages, servers or how we handle e-commerce fulfillment. We are trying to behave in a unified way, but have to figure out how those things can actually be executed.

Another key question in digital is whether or not e-commerce is becoming channel and platform agnostic by integrating the ability to sell and buy into our social channels. It is actually not a question of if, but rather when we see this development, thinking about markets like China, where the integration of the marketplace into the social world is already reality.

So what can online marketing tech companies do to be more relevant and valuable? With a lot of change we need to have a scientist’s mindset, being curious, trying out new things and failing fast, which is not failure, but a way to gain new insights. Most importantly we need to listen of what people care about and can no longer assume we know.

I started my career as a research scientist at UCLA and spent years in the lab laser-focused on repeatability between experiments, making each day EXACTLY the same as the last. As intellectually challenging as it was, it was also… boring. If variety is the spice of life, I was eating white bread every day.

This is what led me away from the lab and instead to BrewLife, and an existence fully of daily variety. Two weeks ago is a perfect example.

W2O Group, the parent company of BrewLife, hosted its 5th annual Pre-Commerce Summit to kick off SXSW Interactive on March 11th in Austin, TX. The day was full of compelling talks that made me rethink my approach to communicating, to strategy, even to thinking.

I learned that if you want to make products that resonate with your audience, you need to check your preconceptions at the door. This is exactly what didn’t happen when YouTube engineers first designed how videos reorient when you turn your phone. (All my fellow left-handers know what I mean.)

Al Roker and W2O President, Jim Weiss
Al Roker and W2O President, Jim Weiss

To communicate effectively, you not only need to put your preconceptions aside, you should also put yourself in the shoes of the person you are communicating to. A great idea can be lost simply because it wasn’t explained in a clear or inspiring way. Al Roker shared a story at the PreCommerce summit that most parents can relate to. In an attempt to get his teenage daughter to clean her room, Al resorted to yelling, which resulted in tears and accusations of “if only America could see this Al Roker.” A clean room probably would have benefited both Al and his daughter, but once communication broke down they could not reach a point where they agreed on the best outcome.

All of these Pre-Commerce Summit talks started my brain a-swirling. How do we make sure we’re taking our best ideas and communicating them in a relevant and persuasive way?

ACC logoConveniently for my mileage rewards program, I went straight from SXSW to the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Conference in San Diego. I was there to work with a client on sharing the story their data told and helping others see the value of it. Even in the world of data there is disagreement: You can’t argue with a number but you can argue about what that number means. This idea of different takeaways or reactions to the same set of information was exactly the concept that had been rattling around in my head ever since the Pre-Commerce talks. In my brain, it was like SXSW, soul patches and live music collided directly with cardiologists in suits. Two worlds that shall never meet… until they did.

I left San Diego with a greater appreciation that no matter what the topic is, from healthcare, to tech, to family discussions, we each bring our own preconceived notions to the table and, at times, struggle to get others to see our point of view. But you can’t get others to understand your point of view until you understand what they bring to the conversation.

Communication is an art, a science and definitely not a one-way street. You cannot effectively engage in discussion until you listen to what the other person is bringing to the conversation and account for that in your thinking. It may change your approach to the discussion, but more importantly, it may change your own preconceptions. Maybe you’ll consider a new treatment protocol for your patient or maybe you’ll think to make a video player that rotates for left-handed people.

 

 

Each year, more than 25,000 interactive experts visit Austin to hear about what’s next and reflect on what it means for their organizations. It’s very easy to get caught up in the buzz. Very hard to sort through it all and figure out what really matters. Basically, what is the trend underlying an innovation or what is the truth that we should live by as we lead our communications teams? Here are four key trends related to innovation and four pearls of wisdom from leading professionals that emerged at SXSW. Each is focused on how it will influence our work.

1. The importance of Meerkat. On its face, it’s simply an app that allows you to share video via Twitter. In reality, visual content is our favorite way to learn and it is driving many innovative models.

The Fortune 500 is doing a poor job of leading with video first, however. In fact, often it is just an add-on to our work. Big mistake.

We prefer to learn visually, technology is making it easier to do so and the marketplace is creating more visual solutions. Are we evolving our own use of video inside our companies?

2. Speed kills old models. We groan as we wait six to nine months for a campaign to be created, approved and released. The good news is that technology enables speed and when speed gains enough momentum, it destroys old models. We’re moving into the era of the agile campaign, where hours matter, not months. You can see it in how companies share news at SXSW. More important, communicators can develop libraries of content in advance of trends and then react within minutes when necessary. Speed + Right Content + Right Window = Results.

3. Data scientists are the new media planners. Customer behavior (earned and shared media) will influence greatly how we plan for paid media. We should always know what our customers actually do online before we develop a paid media plan. Earned media makes paid media smart.

For communicators, this is a gift from heaven. Will we be ready to take advantage of how analytics is reshaping the market? Do our communications teams have geeks on staff? We should.

Source: W20 Group

4. Responsive experience trumps responsive design. We used to focus on ensuring the same website experience was shown in the same way via any device. This responsive design approach now is table stakes.

For our owned media, we need to ensure the right experience, not the same experience, is shown each time. With more than 50 percent of content consumed by mobile phone, we only get one chance to get it right. It’s critical for communicators to understand search habits, who visits their site and what that experience should be. We can’t just count site visits.

And here are some tips from senior executives patched into business communications:

1. Change is normal. “One thing I’ve learned about being a communications professional—especially in digital—is to be open and flexible to change. As you know, the digital landscape changes approximately every 6 months. You have to think about how you’re going to reach your customers on the platforms they use, it’s not the other way around.”

Paul Buckman, Director, Online Communications, US Food and Drug Administration

 

2. Say hello to real KPIs. “It’s very easy to say that communicators need to be data-driven, but the real trend needs to be communicators focusing less on rear-view mirror measurement and more on what helps to inform the road ahead.

It’s great that the goals for a particular campaign were met, but how does that information help us plan the next campaign?

How does it help us hone the list of people we plan to engage with for the next quarter? How does it help us use the right sort of keywords in our copy? How does it help us achieve greater brand lift for the upcoming quarter? Rear-view mirror measurement doesn’t always help answer those questions, and the industry is still doing far too much of that sort of work.”

Chuck Hemann, Manager, Analytics, Intel Corp.

 

3. New school ROI. “Too often we are caught up in vanity metrics like the number of views or clicks and likes and less interested in or able to explain the true business value related to our effort.

Did we create a piece of content that can be leveraged by marketing, sales or recruiting? Are we moving the needle on corporate reputation or adding value to the brand?

Whether it is positioning the company, selling product or recruiting new talent, communications professionals need to explain more succinctly what we are doing, why we are doing it and the value it brings.

Doing so allows us to tangibly show that our communications outcomes are creating true business results.”

Michael Marinello, Head of Global Comm., Technology, Innovation & Sustainability, Bloomberg

 

4. Avoid content pollution. “We are on the cusp of a new horizon for communications professionals but are dangerously close to messing it up as a profession. The modern communicator needs to meld great content with the science of content distribution and the insights of big data.

We can no longer shout messages and hope they stick. Instead we need to be data modelers, big data and insight experts, digital channel pros and world-class storytellers who create content that cuts through the clutter, minimizes content pollution and is measureable by its impact.”

Andrew Bowins, Senior VP, Corporate Reputation and Engagement, MasterCard

As we sort through the innovation as well as some hype, the message is pretty clear. We have the best opportunity in our lifetimes to evolve the communications profession. We also have the most urgency to do this now with intent, purpose and skill.

CONTACT:

Bob Pearson is President of W20 Group and author of “Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together” (John Wiley and Sons). He can be reached at bpearson@w2ogroup.com

This article originally appeared in the March 16, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.

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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terry blacks

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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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SXSW just ended in Austin, so we thought we would write this Millennials Unplugged post from the standpoint of “what matters to us”.  We’re not trying to create a better list of technology innovations.  We just talked this weekend about what we both care about. We also asked our W2O Millennial colleagues for their first-hand views, as well.   Here’s our SXSW summary. 

#1 – We are shifting from Call of Duty to Duty calls – Brittany grew up playing Call of Duty, often as well as the boys, who seemed to dedicate every waking hour to reaching the next level.  Well before women in tech was a theme, Brittany was waiting in line for the midnight launch of the newest Call of Duty game.  Just her and 100+ boys.  That was then.  Now, we see an explosion of wearables, 3D printing and, in particular, healthcare applications.  Bob always hoped that this generation who grew up on gaming would eventually apply their knowledge to the real world, although he was skeptical at times as he watched 5-6 kids shoot each other on screen, laugh and drink a diet pepsi. But it looks like it’s happening.  Kids used to spend time teaching others cheats and tricks of the trade for video games.  Now, we are realizing that as millennials get older, they will start applying tremendous technical knowledge to innovation that may not have been so obvious to us parents.  Yes, fellow parents, our kids did pick up new skills we didn’t fully appreciate.  And as their skills widen beyond Call of Duty to applications in life, it also opens up more opportunities for women in technology.  Duty calls and millennials are ready to surprise us with their innovative ideas.

#2 – Virtual Reality Drives Healthcare Reality – we are living in a time when we have tremendous technology advances and we have a health system in flux due to the Affordable Care Act.  Our colleague, Anke Knospe of Twist said “SXSW helped solidify that virtual reality is truly taking shape and offers potential far beyond video and gaming. Physicians have already been using aspects of virtual reality to conduct surgeries or help treat psychiatric/neurologic conditions, but video games and VR may even show promise as diagnostic tools and could potentially help improve the drug development process.”  Anke’s right, but what she said next is profound.  “While highly scientific, healthcare typically hasn’t been known to be the most innovative and, in the past, hasn’t attracted the (millennial) geek squad that has helped push social media/tech into a new era. The fact that we are now starting conversations around using video games and VR in healthcare and that companies like Akili are working on out of the box ideas like developing a video game to diagnose Alzheimer’s at an early stage are speaking to the fact disruptive thinkers are no longer steering clear of pharma and healthcare.”  Anke, we both believe you are right.  It is becoming cool to innovate in healthcare for millennials and beyond.  Let’s go!

#3 – Let’s break down the walls to connect and share – anyone who does this wins.  That’s why we like Meerkat, Periscope, Snapchat and iBeacons.  Help us connect faster?  Heck, even Bob likes that.  Help us live stream video to twitter?  No brainer.  Break down barriers.  Break down barriers.  Break down barriers.  The three things we both care about.  Meriel McCaffery of WCG added a very interesting observation. She said “Considering the (snails) pace with which some companies adapt basic social media (e.g. Twitter and Facebook), this for me underlines that we need to continue to push our clients and, as an industry, are obligated to make our clients uncomfortable.”  Meriel’s right in our book.  Technology makes innovation possible.  Consultants push the envelope related to what is possible.  It’s like Reese’s.  Have to have chocolate and peanut butter or it just doesn’t work the same.  At least that’s what Brittany says.  Bob’s on a diet.

#4 – Being a real person online matters…..a lot – it’s not all about technology.  We’re people and we care about making connections and doing the right thing.  Taylor Carr of WCG provided a great summary of what he believes matters about better understanding human behavior.

Unconscious Bias conversation – Sometimes, we don’t even understand our decisions, or why we’re making them.  We all loved Judith Williams of Google’s talk at PreCommerce who made us all think about what we do and why we do it.

Empathy at scale – Taylor really loved the Covey quote that was included in this presentation, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Business today is tasked with actually understanding and listening to its audience.

  • It’s All About Strength – Truly tapping into people’s strengths and passions to really unleash them within their organization. In order to do that, you really have to deeply understand them.  Great talk from Mason Nelder of Verizon

Taylor said why this matters.  “We wear a lot of hats. Communicators, marketers, consultants, etc. Today, it’s becoming more important we add some others to our portfolio. Those of sociologist, psychologist and more. Digital technologies like our analytics tools are starting to allow us to “listen” to audiences, but a crucial layer isn’t just listening, but understanding them. Their behavior, emotions, habits, tendencies and more.

#5 – How about just getting to the point? Samantha Hershman of WCG was inspired by Al Roker’s talk and his point to do just that…..get to the point.  She said “I find Al Roker to be an extremely interesting person and appreciated his whole take on digital communications today. What I found impactful was when he talked about what we’re learning about consumers this year, as opposed to last year, and he said that consumers really just want people to be honest with them. He continued to say that consumers are looking for more value in their daily tasks – pretty much they want people to get to the point.”

#6 — Societal benefits of technology are important – a great example is a company started in Austin by Stephen Garten and Scott Jacobs called Charity Charge.  This new company, which was one of 10 companies selected by IBM at SXSW as a key social business start-up is “a for profit benefit corporation focused on creating giving tools that allow people to make the world a better place through simple actions. You use a credit card to earn 1% cash back donations to help the charities of your choice charge forward.”  Perhaps the next Toms is starting right in our backyard?  Let’s hope.

#7 – Automate our lives, please – yes, automated cars are good.  Energy transfer by wifi (Witricity)to allow us to not carry cords in our backpacks or charge an electric car in the future is good.  We’re not scared of what’s next.  Yes, bring it on.  The no brainer of no-brainers for both millennials and boomers. Automation will soon not only assist, but replace the need for human intervention and operators.  That sounds more cool than scary to us.

That’s what we know.  Enjoy, Brittany and Bob Pearson

Our next column will be on Facebook.

Like Aaron mentioned, was thrilled to see more amazing speakers at our inaugural Geekfest SXSW event. I think just about all who listened to the discussion about cybersecurity came away with the same takeaway: it’s a bigger problem than you think.

TK Keanini (CTO – Lancope)  kicked things off with Cybersecurity: a Game of Innovation. In his presentation, he made the case that cybersecurity is an ongoing game of innovation, where both sides work to out-innovate the other. He started with the evolution of Cyber Conflict from manual attacks/ defenses paved the way for mechanized attacks/ defenses to talented human/ mechanized attackers and the equivalvant on the defensive side. Finally, 2011 brings things to where we are now: do-it-yourself human threats/ mechanized attackers. By DIY, TK meant hackers these days don’t need to code. They can buy tools that automate much of the process. Citing stats from Hackmageddon.com, the US was the #1 security target overall by a pretty wide margin, followed by the UK. Because it is lucrative, Cyber crime was the motivation behind almost 75 percent of the attacks in February this year.

TK also turned attention to the Internet of Things (IoT), providing a glimpse of the security problems it causes.  For example, SHODAN, an Internet-connected device search engine created and run by John Matherly (@achillean on Twitter), easily shows the vulnerabilities of internet devices many of us use every day. One example: a crematorium that was unsecured (as in anyone could control it from the Internet). Eye-opening and scary to say the least.

TK also referenced Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Report as another example of how the good guys are being out-innovated in terms of cybersecurity. What can we do about it? Change how the game is played: instead of focusing on patching hundreds of security holes, focus efforts on detecting hackers in the midst of a series of operations we know they need to perform.

He reminded those in attendance that security is everyone’s problem, and offered the following recommendations: be social about security (look out for each other 0nline); operate online with a healthy degree of paranoia; use 2-factor authentication whenever possible (check https://twofactorauth.org/ for more); on the enterprise side, pay for security features and demand more from vendors); remember that only (mostly) secure data is encrypted data.

Here are TK Keanini’s slides and more background on him:
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TK Keanini

Bio: TK Keanini brings nearly 25 years of network and security experience to the CTO role. He is responsible for leading Lancope’s evolution toward integrating security solutions with private and public cloud-based computing platforms. TK is also responsible for developing the blueprint and solution that will help Lancope’s customers securely benefit from the promise of software-defined networking (SDN). Prior to joining Lancope, Keanini served as CTO for nCircle, driving product innovation that defined the vulnerability management and configuration compliance market. Before joining nCircle, he served as Vice President of Network Services for Morgan Stanley Online, where he built and secured a highly available online trading system. Previously, Keanini was a systems engineer at Cisco, advising top financial institutions on the design and architecture of their data networking infrastructure. Keanini is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Michael Crosno  (Executive – Click Security) continued the reasons to be concerned theme when he took the stage to discuss The Changing Landscape of Enterprise Security. Michael shared tons of scary stats and a couple anecdotes to illustrate just how difficult things have become. Michael painted the picture that hackers outgun the good guys in a number of different ways. How so? Globally, companies spend $70 billion per year on cybersecurity; hackers make over $300 billion over that same time frame. Regarding the cost: Drug-trafficking  costs us about $600 million a year; security breaches costs us over $1 trillion a year. Continuing down that path, Michael confirmed 400,000 registered hackers in China; they are unionized, can get health insurance; black market tools available everywhere. Hackers don’t need to code at all today.

Michael also discussed the Anthem hack, estimated to have affected tens of millions of customers, in a coordinated effort that happened over the course of an estimated 10 months. What are hackers doing with that information? Selling the entire details of a person’s health information from medical history to insurance ID. Say you have medical problems with your knees that will require surgery. Hackers will sell you insurance ID and appropriate details to someone overseas that will allow them to fly into the United States (in a different state than you reside) and to have those knee surgeries using your health insurance to pay the bill. Scary stuff.

So, what does all this mean to IT security? Michael sees a shift in focus from threat prevention  or detection (keeping hackers out) to threat investigation (finding hackers once they are in your network). He cited research from Microsoft that analyzed 20 years of security breaches that found nearly 500 actions were common requirements for large-scale security attacks. Research from Google and Symantec came up with slightly lower numbers, but all agree that there are a set of steps hackers have to go through. Per Michael, companies need to focus on recognizing hacker behaviors during these processes to build out predictive patterns so they can catch them in the act. That’s why he says the next big wave of security tools will focus on investigation rather than prevention.Ultimately, he sees security maturing in the same way Business Intelligence has. Years ago, companies had small teams of BI analysts. These days, lots of people in different BUs use BI software for insights. Regardless, companies will need a lot more people involved on the security front.

Michael Crosno

Bio: Michael Crosno is currently the President and CEO of Click Security. Prior to Click Security, he was the Founder and CEO of MyEdu Corporation in Austin, Texas, which he sold to Blackboard Corporation in 2014. Crosno joined MyEdu from Global 360, a leading BPM company, where he was President and CEO and sold it to private equity firms, TA Associates, Technology Crossover Ventures and JMI Equity. Before joining Global 360, Mr. Crosno served as CEO of the leading enterprise portal company, Epicentric, Inc. He sold the company to Vignette and served as EVP Worldwide Operations. Previously, he was EVP at Gemplus, SVP of Worldwide Operations at ViewStar and VP of Sales and Marketing at Computer Associates.

Michael Coté (Director, Technical Marketing – Pivotal)  closed things out on the cloud front discussing how companies can implement a fail fast model while still being focused on the right things in a presentation he called “Failing fast for the up-tight.”

In a talk that featured outfitting urinals with sensors to the Death Star, he made the point that failing fast worked for implementing cloud infrastructure tools and in other areas as well. Regarding failing fast, Coté acknowledged the tech concept of failing fast doesn’t seem to make sense for some companies at first blush, but it’s a positive thing because it gets at trying to solve specific problems. To him, failing fast means rapidly try out new things; getting new code in customers hands on a daily or weekly basis, Observing how customers use it, gathering feedback and iterating based on that feedback, In other words, failing fast really means learning fast.

So where do urnials come into the picture? Coté compared outfitting old urinals with sensors to how many companies have approached their private cloud implementations over the last several years. Modernizing old,  legacy urinals  with sensors that only work part of the time ends up frustrating the users. Not focusing on the bowl means not addressing the fundamental problem of using too much water; inefficiency. It’s a halfhearted attempt to implement technology. Similar to what Pivotal sees with many clients in regard to their private cloud implementations. In their reseacrhc, Pivot found that up to 95% weren’t happy with results of their private cloud efforts. I n many cases, they were doing half the work, or installing an infrastructure and expecting that to make a difference; 3 – 5  years later, many companies are  getting to what he called the “state of the blinking cursor.” Companies invested in changing infrastructure, rolled out new cloud technology, but nothing much is happening as a result. In Coté believes companies need to focus less on installing chunks of infrastructure and spend more time using the failing fast model to test what functionality needs to be rolled out to help end users.

Here’s Michael’s presentation and a bit more detail about him:

Michael Cote

Bio: Michael Coté works at Pivotal as part of the technical marketing group. He’s been an industry analyst at 451 Research and RedMonk, worked in corporate strategy and M&A at Dell in software and cloud, and was a programmer for a decade before all that. He blogs and podcasts at Cote.io and is @cote in Twitter.

 

 

 

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

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