Highlights from W2O Group’s 2017 Movers & Shapers (Pt. 2)

Bonin Bough kicked off the second half of our 2017 Movers & Shapers conversations with a bang. You can check out my part 1 recap post here if you happened to miss it.

Topic: Keynote Discussion with Bonin Bough

Bonin Bough, Host – CNBC’s Cleveland Hustles; Follow Bonin Bough on Twitter @boughb

Key Takeaways:

  • Bonin has tons of digital and e-commerce in his background—he took Mondelez’s e-commerce revenue from $65 million to $285 million in the 18 months he ran it. To do that, he started looking at the fundamental aspects of the business, supply chain, product group, insights group, etc. Many of those functions used old technology and were built for success in a world that has long since changed.
  • By working with teams, Bonin was able to shorten product development cycles from 9 – 18 months down to 6 weeks
  • Large companies tend to be data poor. Newer startups like Dollar Shave Club and Nature Box are built on data and algorithms. That’s why companies pay a 10x premium vs. revenue to buy them.
  • Bonin sees the concept of Chief Growth Officer, those people who can mine for gold in new places as something that will be much more important for companies in the future. In other words, those people don’t believe the company today will be the same company in the future.
  • Bonin explained the Naturebox model and how they use customer purchase and subscription data in 8-week cycles to predict product sales in food service and big box retail
  • Growth comes down to answering this question: how can we digitize the nuts and bolts that drive these businesses?
  • Bonin believes messaging will be much bigger wave than social media; Per Facebook, 1 out of 5 minutes is spent in the Newsfeed compared to 4 out of 5 in Facebook Messenger; Messaging is where all the discussion we care about is happening.
  • Messaging as a trend: In 2011, Skype was the only messaging app in the top 10 downloaded apps. Today, 7 out of 10 of the most popular apps are messaging ones. 4 billion people use messaging apps.
  • Since messaging is where customer’s attention is today, brands must figure out how to be there.
  • Bonin believes every piece of ad tech that exists for social media today will exist for messaging tomorrow.
  • Chatbots have the hype. But in Bonin’s view, humanation is the key. Humanation = bringing the promise of social media (direct engagement with customers) together with the promise of A.I and machine learning. It’s a combination of automation augmented with human interaction.

Bonin’s session starts at 44:52 in this video.

Topic: Women Founders & Entrepreneurship

Jan Ryan, Partner – Capital Factory; Follow Jan Ryan on Twitter @janryan

Jory Des Jardins, Co-Founder – BlogHer and Virago; Follow Jory Des Jardins on Twitter @JoryDJ

Key Takeaways:

  • Jory has been advising startups since com acquired BlogHer in 2014.
  • Women entrepreneurs struggle to raise capital. Jory wanted to dig into that to find out why, which led her to co-found Virago
  • Virago hosted the inaugural version of The Scale Collective event in late 2016. Purpose was to allow 250 women founders to meet up with investors and advisors to give them opportunities to talk and understand each other better.
  • Both Jory and Jan agree there’s a need to understand how female founders think vs. how (largely male) venture capitalists think to close the gap to see more funding for women-founded companies.
  • Besides her work at Capital Factory, Jan also started a group called Women@Austin, which is now 700 members strong.
  • Per Jan, though women run 38 – 40% of startups, only 2% of venture capital funds are invested in those companies.
  • 3 discrepancies between female founders and investors: 1) women tend to lead with passion vs. numbers; 2) women should seek feedback earlier in the process; 3) It’s important for women to think bigger in terms of scaling their ideas.
  • Women tend to lead with passion vs. numbers. VCs almost exclusively focus on return on investment, so numbers are primarily important.
  • Jory agreed with that, and made the point that VCs also care about underlying technology, as well as numbers.
  • Per Jan, male entrepreneurs tend to seek feedback earlier in the process compared to women. By contrast, women tend to work in silos spending more time to perfect their products or ideas. In essence, male entrepreneurs seek feedback early on from VCs and advisers, where female entrepreneurs go to those meetings seeking funding. Jory made the point that women founders tend to think they need to be 90% there in terms of business performance before seeking funding. That
  • Per Jan, funding is a 95% relationship game. That’s why it’s important for women to build those relationships earlier than they tend to.
  • Per Jan, it’s important for women entrepreneurs to think bigger. Many times, the ideas that women entrepreneurs start with their families or at a local level. Many of those ideas can scale to a much larger business need. Discussions with mentors can help broaden the thinking.
  • Per Jory: It’s a fine line between being honest, yet being open to possibility.

This co-talk starts at 1:11:21 in this video.

Fireside Chat Topic: Adaptive Thinking

Chris Preuss, SVP, Marketing & Communications – Delphi; Follow Chris Preuss on Twitter @CPreussCarWild

Jeff Haydock, VP, Communications – Best Buy; Follow Best Buy on Twitter @BestBuy

Gary Grates, Principal – W2O Group; Follow Gary Grates on Twitter @GaryGrates

Our own Gary Grates sat down with Chris Preuss from Delphi and Jeff Haydcock from Best Buy to talk about how to navigate businesses through massive change. A pertinent topic to two leaders from industries dealing with massive change: automotive and retail businesses.

Key Takeaways:

  • Per Chris: The automotive industry is undergoing massive change. There’s been more change in the automotive industry in the last five years vs. the last 50 years.
  • In that last 5 years, Delphi has added about 20,000 software engineer employees as they transition the business from high-capital manufacturing to software and sensor technology that is the backbone of autonomous driving.
  • Per Jeff, when he started in 2003, running the business was easy: was a “stack ‘em high and let ‘em fly” strategy. In the last five years they had to rethink how we work with customers, how we think about and communicate the technology our customers buy.
  • Asked about how they work with leadership to navigate change, Chris said discussions with leadership is where he spends a lot of his time. The narrative is not just about a value proposition for customers. It’s also key to helping us attract the right talent through this transformation. Leadership has to balance the short-term pressures of being a public company with longer-term investments necessary for the future.
  • Both companies have to communicate to a diverse set of employees. For Delphi, it means everyone from migrant workers in manufacturing plants in places like Africa and Mexico. For Best Buy it means reaching 125,000 employees, only which about 5,000 are in the corporate office with access to e-mail and computers. It’s critical that Best Buy conveys their value proposition to retail employees, since they are the most effective ambassadors to their customer base.
  • Delphi faces a similar situation: Out of 170,000 global employees, only about 30,000 have access to computers or e-mail. That’s why mobile and face-to-face communication are both critical.
  • For both companies, what happens externally increasingly informs what they communicate internally.
  • In terms of employees what are you focusing on communicating? Chris: We spend a lot of time talking about the company’s core values, since that is the thing that binds employees at all levels together. Building employee pride is a focus area as well. At Delphi, he uses the external activity to motivate employees internally. Chris mentioned Delphi being the first company to complete a coast-to-coast autonomous drive became a huge rallying cry for the company’s employees as an example.
  • Communicating company strategy can be boring. For Best Buy, they try to inject charm or humor into shorter communications, taking a page from how employees get news and communicate using social media vs. long emails or 30-page documents from the past.
  • Experimentation: Per Chris, Delphi spends a lot of time understanding technology and how employees consume information in the workplace. Even with an increasingly younger workforce and lots of different tools, survey and employee feedback emphasize the importance of interpersonal communications between managers and staff. That means arming leaders and managers with consistent information they communicate to their teams. Traditional things like employee town halls continue to be important.
  • Best Buy uses a lot of live events to communicate to employees. They also regularly bring in employees from the field to talk to corporate employees and leadership.

This session starts at 1:31:40 in this video.

Topic: Talking to Your Home Isn’t As Crazy As It Sounds

Dan Herscovici, GM, SVP, Xfinity HomeComcast; Follow Dan Herscovici on Twitter @DanHerscovici

Stacey Higginbotham, Founder – SKT Labs/Internet of Things Podcast; Follow Stacey Higginbotham on Twitter @gigastacey

Key Takeaways:

  • When asked about the state of voice control, Dan believes progress on the underlying platform front (provided by companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Comcast and others) are making it easier for customers to bring smart technology into their homes. That means consumers no longer need to use 17 different apps to control devices.
  • While these platforms and devices are still in early stages, it’s starting to come together.
  • Comcast has had voice capability in homes for the last 2.5 years. That means more than million voice remotes in consumer households which have resulted in over 5 billion voice commands. Though the majority are used in conjunction with the Xfinity X1 TV experience, they are beginning to see more activations geared toward home automation requests (security, temperature, lighting, etc.)
  • Voice is an interface, it’s not THE interface. There’s benefits to using television, smartphone apps, etc. Voice is good for some functions.
  • Top Alexa commands? 1) Set kitchen timer 2) Play music 3) Turn on the lights. After that, even commands like what’s the weather barely even register.
  • By contrast, a voice-capable remote is more useful in conjunction with a TV screen. Example: If the answer is a list, then show the list items on screen and allow users to select preferred option via voice.
  • Is Dan worried that other voice-capable options like Google Chromecast or Amazon’s Fire TV gets more traction than Comcast’s solution? No, our job is to create a superior experience for our customers. If we aren’t successful in that effort, customers will choose other options.
  • What’s next for voice? Per Dan: as voice evolves, it will become more contextual and conversational. We’re still in early stages of that happening.

This session starts at 1:53:40 in this video.

Topic: Measure Once, Cut Twice: Why Your Current Approach to Analytics Will Get You Fired

Mark Stouse, CEO – Proof; Follow Mark Stouse on Twitter @markstouse

David Berkowitz, Chief Strategy Officer – Sysomos; Follow David Berkowitz on Twitter @dberkowitz

Chuck Hemann, Chief of Staff/Technical Assistant to the VP of Regional marketing – Intel; Follow Chuck Hemann on Twitter @chuckhemann

Key Takeaways:

  • What’s wrong with current approaches? From Mark’s perspective: Too many efforts are implemented after the campaign is in motion versus starting with the business goal and deconstructing how to best get to that point. Per David: so many of us in the marketing space have gotten away with bad behavior, or taking the easy way out. As long as people continue to not get fired for taking the easy way out, complacency is an issue.
  • David: I find the term data-driven culture terrifying. We are steeped in data. That’s why I don’t like using the term. We need more people who can ask the right questions. It’s more about a question-driven culture. That’s what lead companies to more insights.
  • Mark agreed: Learning to ask the right questions is profoundly liberating. Knowing from the data that your efforts generated a specific portion of revenue over time is empowering.
  • How do we get more employees to be data advocates rather than consumers of data? From Mark’s perspective, it’s about taking departmental KPIs that already exist and figuring out ways to tie those directly to business results. But being too automated is a risk. Employees need to interact with data a bit to feel the cause and effect. From there, they can build more of an emotional connection and make better decisions.
  • Per David, it’s important that insights from data come up more regularly in meetings, performance reviews and other traditional business conversations.
  • Per Mark: the language of business is numbers and analytics. You must be able to speak that language convincingly before you’ll have any chance of success.
  • Per David: One of the only things that’s consistent in both the agency and the brand side—I want to work with the smartest customers possible. That pushes us on the partner side to ask the toughest questions.
  • Per Mark: People, processes and technology are always important in terms of analytics. Technology can be a catalyst, but all three are important. The economic alignment piece won’t happen until all three come together.

This session starts at 2:14:13 in this video.

And that about wraps it up. Thanks to all our speakers who made our 2017 events some of the strongest I can remember. If you want to check out more of the related discussions that took place on Twitter, take a look at the hashtag #W2OatSXSW.

Lionel Menchaca
Lionel Menchaca

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