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The influence and reach of technology across every industry cannot be denied. Whether you’re in finance, medicine, transportation or marketing, technology has completely invaded the way you operate. Perhaps no one understands this better than David Kirkpatrick, CEO & Founder of Techonomy, Author & Journalist.

From the customer-centric nature of Amazon to The Facebook Effect, David has a unique and brilliant take on the breadth of technology’s impact. We chat about recognizing the influence of technology, understanding the social responsibility of major tech organizations, and our  firm’s new strategic partnership with Techonomy. Take a listen below.

I have heard countless young companies talk about hockey stick growth patterns but over time you learn how rare they actually are. So when mentions of blockchain technology formed a clear hockey stick in our social media trend data, we started paying attention. It is clearly time to take a closer look at some places where this technology may be grabbing a foothold.

Management of Patient Medical Records

What if all patient records from all health providers were available in a unified and unmodifiable form? What if access to these records was controlled by each patient or their legal guardian? What if this system drastically reduced data management costs while improving overall security? This system is possible for a medical records system controlled by a blockchain. Based on this vision, numerous companies have raised a lot of money to try and make this happen.

Unfortunately I see a blockchain based system of this type as being at least a few years away. In the mean time new regulations are forcing hospitals and other medical facilities to move to digital records in the next five to ten months. This is a big problem for those pursuing blockchain solutions for health records and is one of the reasons why I do not see blockchain playing a major role in this aspect of healthcare in the short or even the medium term.

To understand why it can take years to create a blockchain solution consider this list of huge challenges:

  • Identity Management
    • To strictly manage control of medical records so that only authorized people can see them we have to be sure that people are who they say they are.
  • Permissions Management
    • We have to have a flexible system for allowing access to records that can handle a huge number of standard and emergency scenarios.
  • Data Management
    • While we want to protect individual’s records, aggregate data across a population can have a huge positive benefits for the industry. Providing a secure solution that protects individual’s records but also accurately reports on populations is not easy but blockchain solutions are in the works such as Project Enigma at the MIT Media Lab.
  • Systems Integration
    • Existing software systems using a staggering variety of protocols and formats for their data. Getting agreement on standards and then creating adapters to conform to those standards is a gigantic enterprise that will require large scale industry cooperation.

So the big prize of Health Care Records on the blockchain seems out of reach for the foreseeable future. Where are the real opportunities for blockchain?

Identity Management

Plugging in a blockchain-based plug-in module to reliably handle the identities of patients and health care professionals could be huge for the industry. Fortunately, this is true for almost every industry and not just healthcare. Accordingly, there are hundreds of companies, large and small, working on this problem.

Last May a huge step forward was taken when Microsoft, Uport and several other companies formed the Decentralized Identity Foundation ( to create consensus standards for identity management. Since then another 25 companies have joined the effort including IBM, Accenture and Hyperledger. This unified effort seems to be the best hope for a blockchain-based identity system within a year or so although there is competition from the ICON foundation among others.

Organic Material Supply Chain Management

Tracking the movement and delivery of drugs, organs, blood, tissue and the like is a huge problem area in healthcare. Billions are lost from fraud, theft, and spoilage. Here a blockchain-based solution can serve to track the movement of shipments by adding records to the blockchain at each step of the delivery process. The unmodifiability of the records provides a reliable means to discover exactly where the problem occurred when goods are lost or stolen.

A few months ago we learned that IBM is spearheading a blockchain-based supply chain solution in food delivery along with partners including Walmart, Dole, Kroger, Unilever, Hersheys and other big names in agriculture and food processing. This suggests that blockchain is ready to make a difference today by improving the efficiency and security of the world’s food supply.

It turns out that the leaders of top pharma companies were not ignoring this trend. According to an IEEE report, most are involved with or else thinking about starting pilot projects along these lines. The first public announcement of a blockchain drug supply chain pilot project came on September 21 when Genentech and Pfizer revealed that the MediLedger Project is underway using JP Morgan’s Quorum blockchain.

Of particular note is additional technology provided by a startup company named Chronicled. They provide a portable temperature logger that puts temperature data on the blockchain as well as a tamper-proof sticker that makes recording the movement of drug shipments dirt simple.

A wonderful thing about this use case is that with enough automation at the various shipment checkpoints there may be little need for the people moving the materials to change the way that they perform their work. This makes technical adoption easy.


At this point it is entirely reasonable to maintain a skeptical attitude towards blockchain-based solutions in healthcare, however the chance for disruption is very real. My assessment is that Supply Chain Management will be the initial ‘killer app’ for blockchain in healthcare, but there are other interesting projects worth knowing about as well. We will present some of these in a future blog post.

If you want to know more about this topic I suggest starting with the recent presentation by the HIMSS Blockchain Work Group entitled ‘Navigating the Blockchain Landscape’ (

If you have your own hot story about anything in the healthcare industry, let W2O Group help you build your very own social media hockey stick.

Tell us about your new company, Kaleido Insights? And what was the inspiration for the name?

Jeremiah: We’re a new boutique research and advisory firm, with four analyst partners. We’re focused on the buyers within large companies, who are often in marketing, innovation, product, strategy and beyond. My partners are Rebecca Lieb, who focuses on marketing, media, and content;also Jaimy Szymanksi who focuses on customer experience and digital transformation; and Jessica Groopman whose expertise is in autonomous technologies like IoT, Blockchain, and artificial intelligence. I focus on Corporate Innovation and new business models.

We’ve all seen an increase in the rate of emerging technologies, and it’s leaving business decision makers overwhelmed and confused as how to possibly keep up. Our brand, Kaleido (like Kaleidoscope) reflects how  so many different technologies, like the shards within a kaleidoscope, create a fragmented, chaotic environment for companies. We try to provide clarity through the ever shifting lens. The tripartite logo represents our unique methodology on how we analyze any technology: impacts on Humans, impacts on Businesses, and finally the impacts on the larger Ecosystem.

This is your third research firm – the last two being Forrester and Altimeter – how is Kaleido Insights different?

Jeremiah: Ah yes, great companies, great experience all who taught me a tremendous amount, I’m grateful for those experiences. Currently, Kaleido Insights is the only independent analyst firm focused on the buyer side. There’s larger analyst firms, but it’s easy to differentiate from them as a smaller, more nimble organization.

What are the focus areas of Kaleido Insights (would be good to hit hard on the analytics/data piece here)?

Jeremiah: Kaleido Insights’ coverage areas don’t focus on single point technologies, but rather on the ‘horizontal’ areas that remain core to any business—the areas that are constantly impacted by emerging technologies. Collectively, these form a foundation for any digital innovation strategy. Our 4 coverage areas include:

  • Customer Experience: Including deep analysis on consumer-facing programs, technologies, empowerment, and the organizational transformations required
  • Business Models & Monetization: Including the impacts of emerging technologies on monetization models, and the role of innovation programs
  • Marketing & Media: Including emerging practices in content and marketing strategy and execution and how to align hyperlocal, local, regional, corporate, and global teams for success
  • Automation: Including the ever-evolving role of devices, algorithms, and architectural innovations in product, service, and process automation, driven by IoT, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and beyond

You mentioned in your announcement that you will continue to run Crowd Companies as well. Will there be synergies/overlap between Crowd Companies and Kaleido Insights?

That’s correct, Crowd Companies, which I started around 4 years ago, will continue forward under my leadership, with a seasoned team in place. Crowd Companies is a peer-to-peer council for corporate innovation and digital leaders –it was important to segment an advisory services firm away from the council. This separation is common at other large Industry Analyst firms, too. It’s possible we’ll have overlapping clients but the business models are significantly different.

Who is your dream customer and in one sentence, why should they be working with you?

Jeremiah: Our dream customer is a business leader at a large complex company that needs help innovating their digital strategy. They want help in charting the path, researching the market, and then collaborating with our team on an actionable road map that they can execute, while we coach the team. We’re seeking those long-term relationships so we can aid them as they shift their businesses to adapt to the many technologies that are constantly emerging.

You recently ran the Spartan Beast World Championship. You mentioned in a Facebook post that it was one of the hardest things you’ve ever done in your life. How does that compare to starting a business?

Jeremiah: We all spend most of our adult lives focusing on our career (often even more effort that we focus on our fitness) so getting back into shape was a significant challenge. It took about 3 years to get into shape so I could finish the 17 mile race in Tahoe with 38 military-style obstacles, but I got it done. With that said, it wasn’t easy, while the professionals finished in just over 4 hours, my time was just over 9 hours. What’s the insight and how it applies to business? With ample research, training and dedication and you can accomplish your goals in all areas of your life. On a personal note, I strive to balance three things: family, fitness, and being a founder.

From ubiquitous technologies to data privacy to multi-platform convenience, Europeans are on the verge of redefining how consumers and brands interact

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming more and more accepted not only in our personal lives but for business as well. It seems like each day we are exposed to a different AI application and with it a new experience. AI is the enabler within a digital world that is changing the customer journey offering a smoother path toward purchase, an instantaneous set of data to strengthen knowledge, and a more seamless way of living life.

Here in Europe, there is a growing AI industry spread across a number of countries.  This solid infrastructure represents the next generation of business putting European companies at the forefront of this new technology and with it the challenge of navigating new pressures – both political and societal. Today, UK has the strongest AI ecosystem followed by German, France and Spain.

So where does this leave us from a communications and marketing standpoint?

First and foremost, the coming age of AI provides an early blueprint for how companies can convey their business mission, purpose, and efficacy. It begins with an analysis of the organisation’s influencer network. Meaning those constituents who are interested in your products and services, policies and beliefs, and who are shaping your story and carrying your messages. This ecosystem allows you to determine the vagaries of opinion across countries, boundaries, and regions.

Among the areas where AI is finding a home throughout Europe include: call centres, wearables, fitness, health and wellness, home security, HR recruiting, note-taking, banking, virtual assistants, payments, conferencing, search, lighting, energy management, warehousing, customer service, video games, robotics, etc. The benefits of AI revolve around a richer, more seamless customer experience tying people more closely to the brand in large and small ways such as product customisation, ordering ease, addressing issues promptly, faster turnaround, and more choice.

The promise of AI is the result of a digital world where technology places control in the hands of the marketplace.

With that in mind, savvy organizations are incorporating new elements into marketing and communications programming to move their business and mindset to the future including gaining knowledge, input, and acceptance of AI.  Among the areas being addressed:

1. Bridging the Present With the Future

Rethinking the overall corporate narrative to paint a picture of what the future can look like

2. Discovering New areas that Improve Customer Experience

Identifying customer service connections where AI provides a high-quality experience

3. Balancing any Arguments That Might Impede Progress 

Providing well thought-out points of view (POV) supporting a more digital experience for customers and employees

4. Engaging in Real-Time Discussion and Debate to Build Confidence and Trust 

Creating interactive tools and apps to generate discussions and debate that leads to stronger policies and clearer decision-making  

One of the most important issues regarding AI, as well as all digital intelligence, has to do with security and privacy.  In April 2016, the European Parliament approved the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect in May 2018. The measure is meant to protect an individual’s personal data and information and therefore privacy. As AI becomes prominent security and privacy will rise in importance providing fertile ground for organizations to declare a competitive advantage if their policies protect consumers and employees.

The future in many respects is already here as AI is changing expectations in the marketplace and the workplace. For European brands, who acknowledge this technological revolution, Top of the Document a proactive communications and marketing effort focused on education, efficacy, and dialogue will not only accelerate these changes on macro level but will position them in a much stronger place for growth.

Technology continues to move business forward. Businesses tend to adopt new technologies when they provide tangible productivity or efficiency gains. Many times, businesses adopt new technology to stay ahead of their competitors. But that adoption can take years, or even decades for companies to implement. Blockchain is one of those early-stage technologies with massive potential to impact commerce.

I bet that’s what Crowd Companies CEO Jeremiah Owyang thought when he wrote this blog post in late 2016 seeking input for a report on blockchain technology. A few months later, he and co-author Jaimy Szymanski published a report. Their report discusses practical applications of the technology across 10 different industries. Additionally, the report also details six roadblocks to adoption that businesses must overcome.

At this point, even though the technology has been around since 2009, many don’t have a clear understanding of blockchain beyond a cursory familiarity with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Those of you looking for a deeper understanding of Bitcoin can check out Motherboard’s primer which includes many articles on the topic.

Blockchain technology is the public ledger that makes it all work. It can also facilitate all kinds of transactions. Jeremiah and Jaimy define blockchain this way: “At its simplest level, the term ‘blockchain’ is used to describe an immutable ledger that exists online, usually fully transparent that stores data in ‘blocks’ once it is approved by the network to meet the standards of the chain.”

The report also calls out smart contracts as a key component in moving adoption forward. Smart contracts define the rules and penalties of an agreement, just like traditional contracts, but with one key difference—smart contracts automatically enforce these obligations.

Smart contracts open up blockchain to the legal industry and  the nine others highlighted in the report. Two industries that stood out to me: 1) Energy – As more households adopt solar energy to power their households, they sometime generate excess energy. Blockchain makes decentralized energy transfer possible via micro-transactions between the seller and purchaser and 2) Travel and Hospitality – Blockchain could enable a “single passenger ID” that could replace multiple documents needed for travel—ticket confirmations, IDs, passports, loyalty cards, etc.

In terms of the six barriers discussed in the report, slow verification speed is probably the biggest current barrier to adoption. How slow? Currently, blockchain verification can take up to 15 minutes to verify a single transaction, vs. the 39 transactions per second that a global financial services company processes, according to their EVP of Operations and CTO. Since the verification process is compute-intensive, it will get faster over time as technology improves. Jeremiah expects companies to deal with this shortcoming in the short term by “utilizing private, commissioned chains.” Longer-term progress will rely on collaboration between businesses and government. And speaking of government, regulations and policies around the technology will be slow to materialize.

In terms of business adoption, blockchain technology reminds me of where social media stood about 10 years ago. Lots of folks saw potential for corporate use, but it took a lot of trial and error before more companies adopted it. I think the technology adoption lifecycle applies here. As more businesses start to see pilot successes and efficiency gains, more companies will join in.

The report covers several good uses cases. One other that wasn’t part of the report: British artist Imogene Heap is experimenting with blockchain as an alternative to iTunes and streaming services. Money that comes from purchases of her new song through blockchain goes directly to producers, writers, musicians and engineers who produced it.

What are your thoughts? Are their industries or business use cases where you see blockchain technology being adopted more quickly over the next three to five years?


Hard to believe, but it’s already that time of year again. The 2018 SXSW PanelPicker goes live today. You have between now and July 21st to submit ideas for consideration. This year, the SXSW folks expect to receive over 5,000 submissions. That kind of competition means brands and individuals need to stand out from the crowd. But how best to do that?

Hugh Forrest, SXSW’s Chief Programming Officer, provides several clues:

  1. Review the sessions and topics resonated in 2017: Unfortunately, there’s not an easy way to filter videos from the SXSW YouTube channel since so many of the older videos have more views overall, but Hugh posted 10 great SXSW 2017 videos volume 1, volume 2 and volume 3 to help. Same goes for SXSW on SoundCloud. Hugh posted 10 top SXSW 2017 podcasts volume 1 and volume 2 to help there as well.
  2. Go Deep: Hugh makes it clear that topic depth matters more than width or breadth. That’s way the SXSW team prefers solo spots over panel sessions.
  3. Focus on the Future: Throughout its history, SXSW focuses on what’s next. But discussing current trends isn’t enough. Hugh’s timeline? Think 3 – 5 years out.
  4. Hugh’s also been pretty blunt about what not to do part 1 and what not to do part 2.

Note in the two what not to do posts, Hugh’s pretty clear that diversity matters. Diversity issues—both in terms of gender and ethnicity—will continue to be an important topic. Furthering that discussion in a meaningful way will be a priority in 2018.

One last thing you can do to improve your chances: attend one of the remaining SXSW Meet Ups. The SXSW team runs  local events in a handful of cities (the Brooklyn Meet Up happens tonight). It’s a place to ask SXSW staffers about the process or other specific questions.

I attended the Austin Meet Up on June 14. That’s where I got to ask for more detail about the selection process overall. Here’s what they told me: they put a lot of stock into original ideas, and reiterated the focus on future-oriented topics that look 3 – 5 years out. They notice if it’s someone (or a brand) that’s spoken before. In those cases, it’s important that the idea explores a new angle or represents a big validation or major progress against earlier ideas. They also look for engagement spikes in the PanelPicker (lots of votes, comments, etc.), so that does influence what they consider as well.

It’s a good reminder that the PanelPicker process is not the only thing that counts. Public votes that come from the PanelPicker count for 30%. Feedback from the SXSW Advisory Board, a group of industry experts from around the world, counts for 40%; lastly, votes from SXSW staff members count for the remaining 30% as they look to strike a balance between new and veteran speakers. See the SXSW PanelPicker About page for more details.

Visit or click on the image below. All the best to those of you who will be working on submissions over the next few weeks!

About a year ago, Uber and Lyft abruptly left Austin after disagreements with the city’s requirement for fingerprinting drivers. Things changed when House Bill 100 was signed into law on May 17.

Fast forward to May 29, when both Uber and Lyft returned their services to Austin. Their respective marketing machines are making it clear they’re back. I’ve seen signs around the city, received emails like this one below from Lyft offering credits to use the service over the next few days. And I’ve seen lots of Uber ads in Facebook throughout this time as well.

Lyft returning to Austin offer

So, what effect has their return had on local ride-sharing companies that have been filling the void for the last year? They’ve all taken big hits. Fare has already made it official announcing they are leaving Austin earlier this week.

Fasten CEO Kiril Evdakov is still bullish on his company’s prospects: “We’re thinking about growth thresholds, not about decline thresholds.”

What got me thinking about all this was the Here and Now interview of RideAustin COO Marisa Goldenberg. the non-profit company grew from about 300 rides a day to over 20,000 during the SXSW peak. According to Marisa, RideAustin saw a 55% drop in business in the first full week of Uber and Lyft’s  return. She also blamed seasonality—the first few weeks of June tend to be lower ride volumes overall. RideAustin hopes to make it through the summer months to get back to a threshold of 20,000 rides per week. That’s the target the company needs to hit to sustain their nonprofit business.

Click on the image below to get to the story where you can hear the interview with Marisa.

Here and Now - RideAustin interview with Marisa Goldenberg

Personally, I’m pulling for RideAustin. What are your thoughts? Have you returned to using or driving for Uber and Lyft now that they’re back, or will you rely on other options?

I am fortunate to meet with corporate leaders who aspire to innovate within their companies nearly every day of the week. Every now and then, you realize you are seeing something truly special occurring. Nestle is providing us with one of those examples.

Before I describe more on Nestle, here is the problem we all have that they are addressing. In our digital world, we realize a few common things worldwide.

We do not have enough digital talent to hire. Period. We are a generation away from having enough talent to fill the needs of today’s global company.

Our training systems are often centered on single moments, e.g. a one-time course. It’s not enough to shape new habits that are meaningful and long-lasting.

It’s not about building a super team at the center. It’s about indoctrinating an entire company in how to innovate in ways that evolve current business models.

Quite simply, in an era of major change driven by technology, the effective use of data and new digital models and tools, the old way of doing things isn’t going to work.

We now fast forward to Nestle. Six years, ago, Pete Blackshaw joined to become the global head of digital and social media. Pete, who is a marketing visionary and quite accomplished himself (P&G, Nielsen, Press Secretary, Author, Founder and more), realized early on that his ability to influence and empower leaders in the Nestle organization was more powerful than any single plan or action he could personally take. It’s a self-awareness that I’d like to see in more leaders.

So, he set a new course in the corporate world by setting up the Nestle Digital Acceleration Team (DAT) in 2012.  Pete and his team built a training program designed to serve managers from around the world who either have high competence or potential in digital or ecommerce.  A maximum of 18 people are invited for a period of eight months to move to headquarters in Switzerland and learn via sit-down sessions with global subject matter experts and via hands on work on digital projects that create value for Nestle.  The team works in a state-of-the-art Consumer Engagement Center, which includes a multi-media content studio.

Nestle is now hosting their eighth DAT wave with more than 100 participants from more than 50 countries involved thus far.

So why does this matter for Fortune 1000 leaders?  Here is why:

Talent – when innovation is involved, you must identify, train and create the new leaders inside your company.  This is true in any new wave of innovation.

Habits – improving innovation at a scalable level requires us to practice, make mistakes, learn and acquire a new rhythm, new knowledge and, ultimately, new habits. It’s like learning golf. You can’t take a course once a year and play well. You must practice and often get lessons.

Osmosis – too much training is in isolation or small groups of people who then don’t stick together. Nestle’s teams are in the same room for eight months, so the team is teaching itself what it is learning and the cross-training is a benefit that is almost indescribable in its power.

Local/Global – when the focus is on making individual countries and divisions strong, headquarters wins. When headquarters ramps up on what is next, but doesn’t truly train with the same intensity on a local level, it’s like a body builder who works on one arm, but not the other. After a while, it doesn’t work.

Daily Learning – DAT is known for a continual flow of idea sharing from external sources to the internal community, a continual flow of ideas via chatter and more. Learning is daily. Minds are open.

Community – the DAT alumni are now the new teachers in their countries or divisions. The impact of how Nestle innovates will only improve with time. Innovation is now scaling….everywhere.

The next critical item to evaluate is what “scaling” really means, since it can be tricky with innovation concepts. Here are two that Nestle is pioneering.

  • Reverse Mentoring – the DAT team members are reverse mentoring top executives on digital topics. They are  bringing different employee generations closer together and empowering emerging and established leaders.
  • Local “Virality” of  the DAT concept — there are already 25 local DATs in the markets to accelerate Digital agendas at the market or local level. Many of those DAT structures were developed by previous DAT alumni.  As an example, Ana Caldeira was part of the 5th wave of the DAT, then she went back to her home market – Portugal – to set up a local DAT before she received an opportunity to come back to Vevey (HQ) to manage DAT8.

Reverse mentoring and extension of the DAT concept in local markets are two of the best indicators that digital innovation is scaling in a manner that will impact Nestle’s team for the long-term.

On its surface, it seems deceptively simple.  All great models are simple.  Everything Steve Jobs did is quite logical, simple and almost frustrating when you realize others could have done it, but didn’t.

And that is for a few reasons, which is my last point.

As a leader in your organization, ask yourself a few simple questions:

Are we training the next generation of our leaders in our top countries worldwide right now?

Are we scaling innovation via our models and training or are we exporting ideas and hoping our network will do what we recommend?

Are we finding ways to teach our teams every day?

How many of our leaders move to HQ to learn so they can make our organization stronger when they return to their home?

If we are super honest with ourselves, are we just doing the type of training we used to do 10 or 20 years ago?

Digital innovation will require much more of us as leaders in the years ahead.  The evolution of our business models will accelerate, not stabilize.    Our workforces will be shaped by what we choose to do.

What can we learn from Nestle’s DAT?

Here are some great links by the way to learn more about DAT.

An AdAge article and farewell videos from DAT5, DAT6 and DAT7 teams.

Thank you to the Nestle team and Pete for the opportunity to look in, share my own insights and learn from the best example of scaling innovation in our industry.

Best, Bob


SXSW is a unique time in Austin, TX. Since 1987 this annual festival has scaled in both size and the array of industries represented. Whether you are invested in music, film, comedy, healthcare or tech, SX provides a space for innovation, disruption and networking that is largely unmatched. Here at W2O Group we take part in the festivities in our own way, and hosting a few stellar events of our own!

However, SXSW can be a double-edged sword. With access to so many amazing speakers and talent, deciding which panels to attend can be difficult. Luckily our Tech team waded through the plethora of panels and curated a group of tech-focused events meant to inspire application of new or old innovation to better reach your audiences. From NASA’s next telescope to the state of the internet, we’ve got you covered.

(Event summaries provided by

March 10, 2017

W2O Group’s 7th Annual PreCommerce Summit


The PreCommerce Summit is one of our signature events (one track/one day) and is free to the 350 invite-only attendees. The event consists of a series of brief keynotes, 10-minute TED-like talks mixed with select 20-minute fireside chats and by industry leaders. The focus is on business innovation and spans the health, tech and consumer industries.

How Tech is Shaping the Future of Entertainment


Pete Cashmore, Founder and CEO of Mashable, will sit down with leaders in the entertainment and technology space to discuss how television and film are working hand in hand with Silicon Valley to not only reach consumers in the new ways they’re watching videos, but adjusting their creative process based on new advances in audience data. The talk will cover a wide range of formats, from short-form and distributed channels to featured films to uncover where the future of television resides.

Imgur’s Fight to Keep the Social Internet Authentic


Imgur’s brother-sister leadership team are at an inflection point. In just a few years, Imgur skyrocketed to millions of users and became one of the most-trafficked sites in the world. Now, Imgur is on a mission to democratize the social internet. In this session with Inc., hear how Imgur became the top social and entertainment destination by breaking people outside of their feeds and friends’ lists, and into a world of authentic, serendipitous content and community.

Live Q&A at SXSW: #AskGaryVee with Gary Vaynerchuk


You may have seen Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynotes or watched his day-in-the-life videos showing this business leader and true hustler in action. Now, get ready to go even more in-depth with @GaryVee in this SXSW edition of #AskGaryVee. In this talk, you’ll get to ask SXSW legend and master of business-building, marketing, social media, entrepreneurship and life-hacking anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to know. Expect no-holds-barred answers.

Tech’s Lessons for Healthcare


For all of the technological challenges and bureaucratic hurdles, the most important healthcare puzzles are among the most basic: how do you get people to follow their prescriptions, show up to doctor’s appointments, or modify their homes so they can live safely in the place they want to be. This panel will explore how inventive collaborations with Transportation Networking Companies (TNCs), Short Term Rental (STR) entities and others in the sharing economy can improve health outcomes.

March 11, 2017

Apprenticeships and Solving the IT Skills Gap


There are nearly one million open tech jobs in the US today. This gap will increase significantly in the coming years, as older workers retire and the expansion of cloud, cybersecurity, and big data devices require more people to create, manage and monitor technology. Sen. Orrin Hatch introduced the EARNS Act to expand apprenticeship in the U.S. Apprenticeship pairs on-the-job training with classroom instruction, and it’s one of the best ways to prepare workers to participate in the workforce, and to train loyal, skilled employees so businesses compete in today’s economy.

W2O Group’s 3rd Annual Movers & Shapers


Movers & Shapers is our newest event and takes us back to our early roots of the PreCommerce Summit. With only 150 people in attendance, this event also leverages the 10-minute TED-like talk format with a few select fire side chats.

B2A Marketing: Selling to the New AI Consumer


Increasingly the power of making decisions is being delegated to algorithms and “bots”. From self-driving cars to robo-traders, people are more-and-more comfortable allowing software to make critical day-to-day decisions. As comparison shopping tools, automated personal shoppers, and shopping bots mature purchase consumer purchasing decision-making power rapidly being ceded to algorithms, requiring that we completely reframe the marketing industry. To put it another way, the AI robot overlords are coming, and they have credit cards. This panel will discuss the potential implications and methods of a B2A marketing and the industries most likely to see an impact.

Dawn of the Labs: The Next Gen of Tech Innovation


To keep up with today’s rapidly evolving digital economy, organizations have introduced “labs” programs, where an elite team of engineers has the freedom to think outside the box and test new solutions without the pressures of delivering immediate results or adhering to rigid roadmaps. On this panel, leaders of some of today’s most compelling labs programs will discuss why they’re breaking the rules and conventions of the past in order to build the products of the future. They’ll answer questions on why this is essential in the age of new technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality, and how these programs help identify and tackle new challenges.

Ready Or Not, The Bots Have Risen!


Advances in contextual search, and the rise of bots and digital assistants, are changing the way consumers search for and discover information. Executives from Yahoo, Facebook, Assist and Pandorabots, will discuss how this new interaction model will be the future of how we find the information we want and need from the brands we love, whether it’s from a bot or not

Payments Gone Viral: The Rise of Social Commerce


Augmented reality. Hashtag payments. Messenger bots. The payments space is fundamentally changing: cash and checks gave way to credit and debit cards, which are now being replaced by apps. In an era where social proof reigns supreme, how is social media shaping the future of commerce?

Extreme Medicine: Quality Care Anywhere


How would you treat a kidney stone on the way to Mars? What if a climber developed an excruciating headache on Everest? How would you know whether a serious respiratory infection is viral or require antibiotics in a field clinic in Malawi? Providing quality healthcare in extreme environments presents challenges and opportunities. Medical technologies must be portable, minimally invasive, and easy to use and maintain. Devices must be robust and require only low power and consumables. Meds need to be very stable and safe for a long time. Healthcare solutions meeting these high standards have commercial advantages in driving revolutionary care for more traditional settings. By setting the bar high, we are driving border-less innovation in medicine, and creating new business opportunities.

W2O Group’s 8th Annual GeekaCue


This eight-year long tradition started with 50 employees and clients out at local BBQ legend, The Salt Lick and has evolved into a 700-person party. This year’s event will be at the historic Scoot Inn and will feature Terry Black’s BBQ and two amazing bands . Oh, there will also be plenty of liquid refreshments and our mainstay photo booth.

March 12, 2017

The Future of Research: Capability or Culture


Every medicine today was made available because people took part in clinical trials. Participation and awareness remains low, yet the future of our health depends on new medical advancements. Is it technology and data that will pull us up, or must we rely more heavily on culture change – and not just of scientists, but the general public as well?

Hot to Bot: Chatbots & the Conversational Economy


Customers spend 90% of their time on mobile devices and rapidly migrating from apps to messenger platforms. In this Conversational Economy, communication and commerce will happen via Chatbot, disrupting the way customers interact with brands. This session will discuss the next battleground — the rise of the Chatbot — and how traditionally transactional brands are using A.I. and machine learning to transform the way they interact with customers, impacting their lives in a personalized, relevant way. Join the speakers as they demonstrate specific Chatbots transforming the way major brands across Retail, Telecommunications and Utilities engage with customers and, most importantly, make them feel like they matter.

Measuring Media: Big Dreams, Big Data


Human behavior is the soul of every big data algorithm. This typically includes observable behaviors (tweets, posts, reviews) and anticipated behaviors (intentions, product recommendations, suggested friends and articles). What is the value of the data hidden in our dreams? This panel explores the differential merit of two sources of data – conscious and non-conscious, unified by the same data currency: language. What can we tell about people based on the language they use- their interests and influences in each context? Are dreams a marketer’s next frontier?

Non-Obvious: Trends of the Future


Join trend curator Rohit Bhargava as he shares ALL NEW research from the latest edition of his best selling book Non-Obvious. How can a holographic Holocaust survivor offer a glimpse into a career of the future? How do self-repairing airplane wings predict the next trillion dollar industry? Learn the answers to these questions and how to use the power of non-obvious thinking to grow your business.

A City’s Pathway to Inclusion


Learn from mayors of large technology hubs on how they are working to forge new paths towards inclusive economies that support thriving tech & innovation ecosystems in a way that creates equitable opportunities for underserved populations. Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser will discuss the release of the District’s first “Pathways to Inclusion Report”, providing a roadmap to create an inclusive ecosystem where the tech and innovation economy can grow.

Is Government Disrupting Disruption?


Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb are a few of many companies whose business models have been challenged by government regulation of late, and it’s shaking up daily lives (notably so here in SXSW’s hometown of Austin, which Uber and Lyft left in May). Car insurance comparison marketplace The Zebra made its mark by disrupting a highly regulated industry despite complex state governing processes. Speakers will discuss how they’ve worked both with and against government regulation in achieving successful disruption (particularly in marketplaces such as travel, ticketing, and now insurance), and what some of the biggest hurdles have been and will continue to be.

March 13, 2017

Data & Insights on Powering a Connected Workforce


There’s no denying the power of an informed workforce. Using exclusive data and insights recently pulled from thousands of employees using the Dynamic Signal platform, Jim Larrison, co-founder of Dynamic Signal, will share how companies can drive productivity using social and mobile communication platforms. Keeping employees connected and informed is a major pain point for many organizations. Gallup research shows that disengaged employees cost companies billions every year in lost productivity. But when knowledgeable employees are rallied behind a common narrative, they drive productivity and revenue. Join us to learn how best-in-class brands keep their workforce connected and informed.

Embrace Digital Disruption to Reinvent Healthcare


While healthcare has lagged behind other industries in adopting new, disruptive technologies, consumer expectations have continued to shift. We live in a world where convenience trumps all, and most services are available at the push of a button. Why can’t healthcare be the same? This panel will discuss how patients will access healthcare in the future as the traditional care delivery system is augmented by digital innovations and how Baylor Scott & White Health has embraced these innovations by collaborating with entrepreneurs and startups to redesign traditional care models and simplify complex problems.

Zero Day Software Vulnerabilities: Deal With It


Software of any complexity always ships with bugs. Given our reliance on a staggeringly complex web of data and services, how do we, and how should we, deal with these security vulnerabilities when they are discovered? What are the social, legal, and ethical norms around discovering and disclosing software vulnerabilities? This session is a guided tour through the semi-secret, often misunderstood world of vulnerability research and development and how it affects your life and business.

Best Behavior: Prompting Preferred Patterns


 “Nudge theory is about hacking human nature using subtle, context-driven interventions. We all sometimes buy into the shampoo commercial dream that our products can make us into better people, but what if that were true? Thanks to IoT, we’re designing products that make and break our habits. We applied nudge theory to our healthcare wearable, Under Currents, to solve billions of dollars’ worth of medical errors and save lives. When common sense fails, common sensors help us be the best version of ourselves.”

GAFA: The Relentless Rise of the Tech Giants


 This session explores the rise of the big four tech companies – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. How will their relentless monopolization of so many industries affect competitors and consumers? Will the death of competition see reduced choice and rising prices? Should you be concerned for your privacy as you give up more and more data to a handful of companies? Will your view of the world narrow as fewer and fewer gatekeepers control the flow of content? From fake news to Alexa, come along to discover how GAFA influence every aspect of your lives.

Ray and Amy Kurzweil on Collaboration and the Future


Ray Kurzweil, best-selling author, recipient of The National Medal of Technology, and a director of engineering at Google, in conversation with his daughter Amy Kurzweil, New Yorker cartoonist and author of the critically-acclaimed graphic memoir, Flying Couch (NY Times: Best of 2016). The two will discuss their creative work, inspirations, and collaborations across disciplines, while speculating about the future of storytelling, the arts and technology

#Laugh: Creating Art Among the Stars


World renowned artist Eyal Gever and Made In Space, Inc. founder & Chief Technology Officer, Jason Dunn discuss the inspiration and challenges of Gever’s vision to create humanity’s first sculpture in space. With Gever’s keen artistic sense, and Made In Space’s expertise in space based manufacturing, the two have come together to deliver something to the world that everyone can relate to: #Laugh

Movement Tracks: Where Biotech and Music Converge


This dynamic panel will provide examples of music’s power as a core catalyst to restore, maintain and enhance health by highlighting music biotechnologies developed to improve and recover the ability to walk for children with cerebral palsy and adults with Parkinson’s disease. Panelist will inform and discuss new possibilities to improve patient outcomes through the integration of music technologies, smart sensors and data analytics to improve both the scale and impact of global healthcare solutions initiatives to transform people’s lives.

March 14, 2017

Making the Leap from Dev Ops to No Ops


Companies are navigating a global, online marketplace and the challenge they face is not “whether to become digital.” Instead, the focus is how to continually and efficiently transform a business for today’s digital marketplace—the key to being Agile. Many companies have already embraced DevOps in the enterprise, with organizations streamlining their process for pushing code out of test/development environments and into production. One of the benefits has been greater capacity for continuous delivery. The pivotal move is toward NoOps, defined by Forrester as “the goal of completely automating the deployment, monitoring & management of applications and the infrastructure on which they run.

Reimagining Death, A Design Challenge & Movement


Dr. BJ Miller’s call to “let death take us, not lack of imagination” reflects a growing hunger to reimagine the personal experience of the end of life. Our final chapter, long the domain of family and spirituality has become shrouded in taboo and medical process. A growing movement to reimagine dying has emerged and was strengthened by the global conversation and collaborative innovation of OpenIDEO’s End of Life Challenge. This panel of diverse co-conspirators – an IDEO visionary, a health system innovation officer, a palliative care physician-agitator, and a health policy guru – discusses how seeing death as a design challenge is giving life to patient-centered movement for better endings.

Beyond B-8: When Robots Start Acting Human


Deep learning, a new wave of artificial intelligence research, is enabling technology to achieve the unimaginable. What happens when robots can learn, adapt and make intelligent decisions? This technology, enabled by the cloud and highly sophisticated robots, has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing, change our approach to rescue missions, more effectively administer medications and make self-driving cars a reality. And we’re creating the infrastructure to make it happen now. In this panel, organizations that are researching and implementing this technology will discuss the impact, risks and massive shift deep learning will bring to every industry and every day.

New Eyes on Our Home System: NASA’s Next Telescope


NASA’s upcoming infrared-optimized James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) offers scientists unique capabilities to measure changing conditions on planets, comets, and asteroids – and measure the atmospheres of extrasolar planets for key markers (ozone, carbon dioxide, and many others). The panel will discuss the discovery space for infrared space telescopes like JWST in Solar System and exoplanet science.

Psychopaths in Silicon Valley: A Guide


There are uncanny parallels in the description of a glorified tech exec or online troll and the clinical definition of a psychopath, and the latter can cause massive damage to an organization or community. How do you know if you’re working with/for a psychopath? How do you manage him/her? This panel features a clinician, social scientist, and venture capitalist, each with a different intimacy with psychopaths. Learn how to identify and deal with a psychopath, whether a colleague, troll or date from hell.

March 15, 2017

The State of the Open Internet In the Age of Trump


History shows us how closed systems destroy innovation and tax entrepreneurs to death. In our fight to protect the open internet, we all have something to lose. Join me to discuss how this battle could shift with the unknowns of the Trump administration.