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

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

Learning from each other

Daina (1)

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

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

Pattern identification on social

Matthew Zito

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

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

An anthropological approach

Jon Kolko

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

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

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

Learn by watching

Kurt Holstein

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

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

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

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Jim Weiss (CEO and Chairman – W2O Group) and Cathy Baron Tamraz (CEO – Businesswire) kicked off this afternoon with a PreCommerce Talk about Business Wire, which is the leading global commercial news wire.

Here is a summary of highlights of their discussion.

Cathy talked about how Business Wire now uses Content Capsules to share visual content along with news.  She talked about the importance of Business Wire’s reputation, much in keeping with the philosophy of their owner, Berkshire Hathaway and, of course Warren Buffet.  It is clear that Cathy treats the news of its clients as a treasured asset to be protected at all costs.  Right on.

The press release, by the way, is now 101 years old, according to Cathy.  Jim asked if the news release is still as important as it has been in the past.  Cathy gave the example that Apple utilized Business Wire to introduce its new watch.  Great way to answer the question succintly.

Jim discussed how W2O is partnering with Business Wire via NextWorks, led by Tim Bahr.  Cathy said that Intel is using the capsule, as well as Xerox, Cigna and more.  The key is that people are staying on the site for more than five minutes on average, which is far more important than counting clicks.  This portable website allows people to consume content anywhere, anytime and get the full story without having to travel to other locations.

In the Q&A, Cathy was asked “what about small companies who no one knows…what do they do?”  Cathy said you should not make the assumption that no one is watching….a release can be a great idea to get the word out for small businesses.  In fact, Business Wire built its business serving small companies that have grown up over the years, such as HP.  Jim added in that you can also identify the right influencers and keywords, so you help people find your story, which is important for any size company.  So if you are building a company out of your garage, Business Wire is an important part of your arsenal.

Jim ended with discussion of the concept of Storytizing…..and emphasized it is really about what others say about you, not what you say alone.  This speaks to the 1 and the 9 of the 1,9,90 model.  Empowering our audiences to tell our story is always the most powerful way to go.  Business Wire gets the word out….and great stories take it from there.  The fundamentals remain clear and simple.  The hard part is creating compelling content.  That’s on all of us.

Best, Bob

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Do you believe in the power of social media data to drive real world business results? Jason Rose of DataSift, Shree Dandekar of Dell and Darin Wolter of Sysomos answered this question at the PreCommerce Summit with a resounding yes. In their round table discussion, the gentlemen spoke of the power of meaningful measurement, the impact of social media on business and predictions for the future of social media data.

Trends to watch:

  • Availability of rich data from communities that have historically been walled gardens (Jason Rose): With the release of Facebook Topic Data on March 10, 2015 (in partnership with DataSift), businesses can now access vast conversation data about industries, brands, products, events, etc., offering a net new source of insights regarding audiences of interest. DataSift’s process protects the anonymity of end users, while allowing business users access to this business-critical information.

Measurement best practices:

  • Net Promoter score based on social data (Shree Dandekar): In traditional net promoter methodology, data is collected periodically, so marketers must wait for results. By using social media data as the basis of scoring, net promoter information is available in real time, and agile businesses can use the information to make real time adjustments to marketing. For example, Dell has used net promoter information to adjust product pricing leading to increased sales.
  • “Social+” measurement (Darin Wolter): Social measurement has evolved from vanity metrics to health metrics to influence tracking. We now use social data to understand how people are connected and how they influence one another. In combination with business metrics like sales or stock price, social measurement becomes even richer.


  • Interpreting sarcasm (Shree Dandekar):  Historically, coding for sarcasm has been problematic. Soon, there will be technologies that can solve for this.
  • The year of PESO (Darin Wolter): This will be the year of PESO (paid, earned, shared and owned) consolidation. Companies are realizing they can use owned and shared data to inform earned and owned data, and soon this will become standard.
  • Connecting CRM and social data (Shree Dandekar):  Combining this data helps the sales team better understand how to engage with a customer and helps us build our sales pipeline.

Thanks to our panelists for sharing their points of view. May your data be rich and  your insights be mighty.

Jason Rose (SVP Marketing – Datasift)

Bio: Jason Rose has been the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Datasift Inc. since May 2014. Rose joined Datasift from SAP where he led marketing for the world’s leading business intelligence platform. He joined SAP through the acquisition of Business Objects where he led senior roles to consolidate three acquisitions to build the company’s market leading corporate performance management portfolio. He has a depth of marketing experience to reach buyers looking to expand into data integration for other data sources.

Jason Rose





Shree Dandekar (Chief Strategist BI & Analytics – Dell)

Bio: Shree Dandekar has been at Dell for the past 14 years in a number of roles covering software design, product development, enterprise marketing and technology strategy. Currently, he is Director, Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing Strategy responsible for developing and driving the strategy for Dell’s Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing solutions

Shree Dandekar






Darin Wolter (EVP of Global – Sysomos)

Bio: Daron Wolter is the Executive Vice President of Sales at Sysomos. In 2004, Darin joined Marketwired as Vice President of Sales for its Western U.S. region. A former sales executive with Thomson Financial, Darin held key national management positions of Thomson’s Outbound Sales Team. Prior to Thomson (now Thomson Reuters), Darin held direct sales management roles at successfully acquired start-ups, StreetFusion and Questlink Technology, in addition to holding key advertising sales positions at Miller Freeman.

Darin Wolter






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Joining us for a panel this afternoon are Michael Fay, VP of Global Communications at IBM, Michele Skelding, SVP of Global Technology and Innovation for Austin Chamber of Commerce, and Jessica Williams, Global Innovations Marketing at Visa (bios below), to explore how companies adopt and scale innovation.  The panel was moderated by Josh Kampel, President of Techonomy.  I’ve tried to paraphrase the questions and answers in the panel below.

Q: What is Austin doing to foster innovation?  What are some of the characteristics you are seeing?

Skelding: There are 4800 high tech companies in greater Austin.  We look at net new jobs, organic formation of companies with big growth trajectories.  In 2014, 69 companies relocated to Austin, 17 came in 2008.  You can tell by the noise, cranes, hotel room space and traffic.  This is creating a divide between entrepreneurial companies wanting to be downtown and big companies like IBM.  Startups, incubators and innovation centers are all in the area, we have to figure out how to support them all.

Fay: This is a bridge to how we think about innovation – IBM is investing a lot in the transformation of IBM Interactive.  We also have an internal agency called IBM Design, headquartered in Austin. We hired 300 designers last year in Austin alone, with centers also in Japan, London, and Shanghai.  We are investing in Austin because of the talent. Every decade IBM needs to have a new version of itself.

Q: IBM has acquired over 125 companies in the last 15 years. How are you bringing innovation into the company?

Fay: Scale – we really legitimately have a presence in over 170 countries.  Watson has been an organic process that led to a series of product lines, with the same team working on the platform for several years together.  Most of the acquisitions have been small but are a fit culturally.  Sometimes partnerships are better for both companies to co-invest.  We also need to reinvent our talent at a big scale as we grow.

Q: Last week at Mobile World Congress (MWC), lots of partnerships were discussed. Visa made a big splash about ApplePay. Visa has invested 700 dedicated developers to work on ApplePay.  Why the investment and what is the long term goal?

Williams: It’s clearly a huge win for Visa to partner our brand with Apple. We believe it will be a cardless world in the future. ApplePay was the biggest investment aside from Visa Checkout last year.  Sooner or later everyone will be using phones to make payments, we have to stay ahead of that.  Visa is trying to rebuild relationships with merchants.  One challenge is that low conversion rates exist on mobile for purchasing, while there is still heavy useage for shopping. Visa Checkout is a one-click checkout solution targeting addressing that gap. ComScore shows conversions on mobile with VisaCheckout are at 69% – much higher than traditional methods.

Q: What industries are ripe for disruption?

Fay: A lot of disruption has already occurred.  For example, a couple years ago we were focused on big box retailers being disrupted with ecommerce.  People love experiences, so retailers need to adapt and innovate to create that experience still leveraging the big box stores.  Everything is now a technology business.

Q: In financial services, how are you looking at these technologies?

Williams: We believe payments is the next big industry to be disrupted.  The way people pay, get paid and get loans will change tremendously.  Visa just launched the connected car with Ford at MWC.

Q: You’re looking at early stage companies like Square as well?

Williams: We have a growing team of folks looking at companies that are early stage, figuring out how to work together, share ideas and explore investment opportunities.

Q: What industries do you see startups congregating on in Austin?

Skelding: We need innovation in transportation. 150 people move to the region daily. We don’t have a mass transport system.  We also have a new medical school. We look at modeling Cambridge, MA, building teaching hospitals and take the biggest ideas to help support knowledge capital and delivery in the region.  We want to grow beyond being known as the Music Capital and being weird – transitioning into the conversion of tech and life sciences.

Q: Kodak and Polaroid didn’t innovate fast enough. What companies are doing it right?

Williams: I think GoPro has done a good job at staying close to what is going on in the world.  Paypal has (unfortunately) done a great job, we look to them all the time as a model of an aggressive technology company.

Fay: We’ve spend time with AT&T creating the largest MOOC, instrumental in bringing broadband to Austin.  If you are in the expertise business, have to project boldly and aggressively.

Big thanks to the panelists for participating today.




Josh Kampel (President – Techonomy)

Bio: Josh joined Techonomy in the Spring of 2012 to oversee Techonomy’s business operations, planning and strategic partnerships. He has held senior positions in marketing, strategy and product development in both the digital media and financial technology industries. Most recently, Josh helped lauch OfferIQ, which was acquired in 2010 by Transactis, where he stayed on as Chief Marketing Officer.

Josh Kampel





Mike Fay (VP Global Communications – IBM)

Bio: Mike leads IBM’s global communications function.   He previously led marketing and communications for IBM Research and IP and has held a variety of positions in IBM corporate communications.  He joined the company through its acquisition of Sequent Computer Systems and previously worked in many capacities in tech communications.

Mike Fay







Michele Skelding (SVP Global Technoloy& Innovation – The Austin Chamber of Commerce)

Bio: Michelle is the Senior Vice President of Global Technology and Innovation for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce where she leads the development and execution of the organization’s vision for Central Texas as a top global region for technology innovation, company formation and expansion, in addition to increasing top access to private equity and venture capital. Prior to the Austin Chamber, Michele served as Senior Director of Global Business Development, for Appconomy. Michele has also held senior positions with Lifeproof Cases, First Mobile Technologies, G-51 Capital, Augmentix Corporation, Dell and with AT&T’s executive leadership development program. Michele is an integral member of Austin’s entrepreneurial community, serving in leadership positions with the Central Texas Angel Network and as a mentor at Incubation Station.

Michele Skelding






Jessica Williams (Global Innovation Marketing – Visa)

Bio: Former Senior Analytics Manager at WCG. Experienced Leader with a strong background in social and digital media and analytical research who can translate data into strategic insights and actionable recommendations in order to enhance brand equity and drive effective social and digital marketing strategy.

Jessica Williams






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

David: What did you do after leaving HP?

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

David: What are you most excited about?

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

VJ Joshi interview with David Kirkpatrick

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

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

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

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

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

David: How is this relevant to Marketing?

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

Worth worrying about manipulation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

David: How does education change?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Audience Q&A:

Are you saying William Gibson right?

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

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

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

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

What about location-based technology?

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

What about natural language speech recognition? Google Hiring Ray Kurzweil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Kirkpatrick (CEO – Techonomy)

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

David Kirkpatrick






VJ Joshi (Former EVP Imaging & Printing – HP)

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

Vyomesh Joshi






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Later in the afternoon, we had the pleasure of hearing from three dynamic and inspiring speakers leading first with Sean George, President & COO of Invitae, a genetic testing company doing groundbreaking work to push the field of genetic testing forward. Sean described the Invitae team as Genetic Enthusiasts dedicated to the pursuit of lowering costs and increasing access to genetic testing.

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Genetic Innovation

Sean’s talk was focused on educating the audience on the scale of the situation as well as the real-time progress being made in the field.

  • It’s the dawn of genetics in mainstream healthcare
  • It’s the convergence of genetics + technology + society
  • Up to 10% of people have a genetic disorder – the scale of the issue is massive
  • Accessibility to genetic testing is not limited to the future – it’s happening now
  • Patients have the right to self knowledge, particularly their genetic information
  • Barriers to progress are largely due to the “regulo-insuro-industrial complex”
  • The cost of genomic sequencing is sharply declining due to innovation – outpacing the impact of Moore’s law on the cost of computing
  • Team Invitae are relentless in their mission to improve the lives of billions of people on the planet

Engage or Die!

Ray Kerins, SVP & Head of Communications & Government Relations at Bayer, led a tough-love talk that stressed the need for firms to ‘engage or die’. His guidance to the audience was pragmatic and bold including the following key points:

  • Bayer is engaging with customers online because we have to – the use of social to identify those who talk about their company, and they engage with them online to take control of brand destiny
  • Kerins encourages his team to engage effectively – if someone has something to say about us, we had better do our best to make it personal
  • We have to do this because of the 5% not behaving well. The opportunity is there; It’s valid and good, but we should choose to do it, regardless of others making us do it or not.
  • This is total common sense to start with how to engage, not should we or shouldn’t we
  • If you let others take control of your reputation, you get what you deserve


The End of Persuasion

Finally, Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business at Twitter championed the idea that “Marketing through persuasion is over!” Daina’s key points included that:

  • There is a formula for participation in social: Discovery + Engagement or Empowerment + Connect = Participation & Performance
  • Marketing through persuasion is over – it takes more than just telling them we are right to convert and engage
  • Persuasion is out and participation is here to stay – if you have better participation, you have better performance
  • All of the metaphors we use to talk about marketing, are framed in war – not effective
  • But if you are trying to build relationships and nurture, you probably don’t want to go to war with your customers
  • Dana used Minecraft as an example of a product built with participation in mind


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In case you weren’t able to livestream our 5th Annual PreCommerce Summit here in Austin, here is a quick summary of one of the sessions. First off was Chuck Hemann and his presentation on how to scale analytics within an organization, globally. Not an easy task for sure, especially within such a large brand like Intel. He offered some really helpful tips below and you can also read the transcripts from a previous interview we did with him.

  • Strong commitment from senior leadership
  • Willing and able partners in the GEOS
  • Metrics Standardization – framework that works everywhere
  • Common taxonomy for all media channels – content, paid social, search, ec.
  • Global capabilities stack
  • Stakeholder commitment to read, optimize on a similar cadence
  • Embracing the connected network versus hub and spoke

He concluded by highlighting how Intel is tackling this challenge:

  • The ability to work with even more speed
  • Bringing the data sources together to tell a comprehensive story
  • Protruding data in more challenging markets
  • Tools and Insights training
  • Developing analytics muscle memory and talent

Next up was Amber Naslund with an inspiring story about storytelling. She did this so effectively by sharing her professional journey from when she first started blogging, to joining Radian6, consulting for a few years and then to her current position with Sysomos.

My biggest takeaway from her session was when she talked about purpose; and how storytelling, whether personal or professional, should have purpose. Without it, storytelling will not inspire others and be doomed to fail. She said that one reason her consulting company failed was this lack of purpose.

The session concluded with Kip Knight who discussed brand storytelling. He started off his talk highlighting some pretty cool examples of campaigns where storytelling was the pinnacle – Allstate, Flo from Progressive Insurance, George Zimmer from the Men’s Warehouse, Most interesting man in the world – Dos Equis and the infamous Etrade Baby.

He then talked about H&R Block’s “Get Your Billions Back” campaign, which referenced the $300 billion dollars the IRS delivered in tax refunds in 2013. The campaign featured a bow-tie wearing spokesperson and H&R Block tax preparer, Richard Gartland and provided expert tax preparation advice to ensure clients receive the maximum refund possible from the IRS.




 chuckChuck Hemann (Global Analytics Manager – Intel) – Scaling Digital Analytics Around the Globe Bio: Chuck Hemann is the Analytics Manager for Intel. Over the last 10 years, Chuck has provided strategic counsel to clients on a variety of topics including, digital analytics, measurement, online reputation, social media, investor relations and crisis communications. Prior to joining Intel, he was the Executive Director of Analytics at Golin where he was responsible for leading digital analytics across the agency. Before Golin, he was the Group Director of Analytics for W2O Group where he was responsible for leading teams in New York and London.

Amber NaslundAmber Naslund (SVP, Marketing – Sysomos) – Storytelling: Individual vs. Corporate Bio: Amber Naslund if the SVP of Marketing for Sysomos, a social intelligence platform. Amber’s 15+ years of professional expertise spans nonprofit management, corporate communications, marketing, professional services and social business strategy. She is the former president of SideraWorks and VP of Social Strategy for Salesforce Radian6, where she advised Fortune 500 companies, such as L’Oreal, Dell and American Express. Amber is also the co-author of the best-selling social business book, “The Now Revolution.”


Kip KnightKip Knight (President, US Retail Operations – H&R Block) – Who Speaks For Your Brand? BIO: Kip joined H&R Block in 2012 and currently serves as the President of U.S. Retail Operations. Knight’s 30-year career has included senior management and marketing positions with P&G, PepsiCo and eBay. Knight started in marketing research at Burke Marketing Research and has since worked in over 65 countries. He is the founder of the U.S. Marketing Communication College at the U.S. State Department that trains diplomats on marketing strategy and implementation. Knight is currently on the Board of Directors at Quiznos.

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Three of our speakers in the morning of the Precommerce Summit covered diverse topics, from the impact of visualization to understanding bias in the workplace.  In an era of “infobesity” how can brands stand out, and at the same time how can brand leaders build effective teams that can achieve high performance. Our three speakers shared perspective on how these can be relevant in today’s marketing world.

Jessica Gioglio (Head of Creative Lab – Sprinklr) – From Meh to Marvelous: Standing out in the Era of Infobesity

BIO: Jessica Gioglio is a Social Media Strategist and recognized thought leader who specialized in content and community engagement. Throughout her career, Gioglio has been a valuable contributor to the social media and communications teams at Dunkin’ Donuts, TripAdvisor, State Street and Comcast. In addition to be a featured speaker at numerous social media and technology conferences, Gioglio covers social media best practices for the Convince&Convert blog. She also founded and runs The SavvyBostonian, a Boston-based lifestyle blog. Finally, she published her first book (co-authored with Ekaterina Walter) in 2014, “The Power of Visual Storytelling”

Jessica Gioglio

Jessica opened talking about the genesis of the term “Infobesity,” using it to describe the current state of social media.  Today, more information is being shared across social channels than ever before.  Every 48 hours we are producing the same amount of content than has been created since the beginning of time to 2003.  To stand out, we need to take several steps:

1) Embrace Visuals to Tell Your Story 

Visuals are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text, and over 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.  As an example, TSA uses Instagram to share extreme examples of what people try to get through the airport.  The images are true to the brand voice and objectives, educating the public about their mission.

2) Content Personalization – Personalize, Don’t Spray

Personalizing visual content is a key way to help content resonate with audiences.  L’Oreal partnered with LinkedIn to develop the “Are You In” program, creating custom shareable visuals.  This was very strategic in engaging women professionals who are also important consumers.

3) Be Timely and Relevant in a Way that Adds Value

In the era of social media, relevant content can take on a life of its own.  SmartCar leveraged this concept best when replying to  @adtothebone’s tweet mentioning a bird crapping on a Smart Car by creating a timely infographic about the weight of bird crap to damage a car.  The response was consistent with SmartCar’s smart, cheeky persona (and in my opinion, brilliant).

4) Create Content with Brand Advocates

Audience members who are advocates of a brand can enable and enhance content campaigns online, and employees (when guided properly) can jump start the effort.  Dunkin’ Brands did a content integration with Shark Week, creating the “Take a bite, take a pic” selfie contest.  Brand advocates made the campaign work because of their passion for the brand and the level of participation.

5) Surprise and Delight

Looking for ways to surprise audiences visually can also be very effective.  BenefitBeauty on Twitter will reply with custom “pick me up” phrases to inspire.

Jessica concluded succintly stating, “Cut through the clutter with remarkable experiences to achieve success.”  Well said.
Mason Nelder (Director of Social Media and Digital Strategy – Verizon) – Leveraging a Strengths Culture to Scale Insights

Bio: Mason Nelder currently serves as the Director of Social and Digital Strategy for Verizon Communications. He is a communications and social business strategist, primarily focusing on social media and digital strategy.  With over ten years of digital experience from startups to Fortune 20, he’s a collaborator, strategist and speaker who has sparked culture change, improved business communication and persuasively mandated business innovation. .

Mason Nelder

If statistics hold true, 65-70% of all of us are not working within our strengths. Mason shared the approach to designing, hiring and building the Verizon Central Insights team to ensure that the team was set up for success and leveraging team members’ strengths to achieve a high performing team.

When we work within our strengths, working is easy because that’s where the largest potential is.  Mason showed the formula:

TALENT  x  INVESTMENT = STRENGTH (consistent, near-perfect performance)

So how do you position this within a company to scale?  For Verizon Central Inisghts, Mason created the Insights Ecosystem, mapping four different personality types and skill sets that could be showcased as strengths in his team:

1) Research and Trends
2) Marketing Science
3) Analytics
4) Insights
5) Insights Enablement

Last group is key to ensuring all parts of the team is working together – creating a framework, linking technology and interacting with the business community and driving governance.  This is typically the weakest link in most organizations.

Most groups do not hire to their strengths and put people in roles that are a mismatch.  For example, taking project managers and having them in roles to focus on providing advanced analytics.  When people are in roles that leverage strangths, quality and output improves and happiness levels go up.


Judith Williams (Global Diversity & Inclusion Programs Manager – Google) – Unconscious Bias: Little Things Make a Big Difference

Bio: Judith Williams is the Global Diversity and Talent Programs Manager at Google where she supports engineering and the technical side of the company. Before joining Google, Judith was an entrepreneur, a human resources consultant and a college professor. She co-founded, Wallace Williams Global, LLC, a strategic diversity and inclusion consulting practice. Prior to creating WWG, she was a Research Director for the Corporate Leadership Council where she consulted with global human resources executive issues.

Judith Williams

“Unconscious bias” is errors or flaws that occur as we process information.  If you make a mistake in the context of identifying friends and foes, the cost is very high.  We receive 11 million bits of data in every moment.  We are 99.999996% unconscious because we can’t process that amount of data.

Several types of bias:

1) Social biases – Preferences to be with “someone like me”
2) Memory biases – The way we remember information based on patterns of prior behavior
3) Decision making biases or confirmation biases – Seeking out information that confirms our viewpoint
4) Probability and belief biases – Overvaluing information that is easily accessible to us, and assuming it has more value than it does without the right sample size

These biases are acting on us all the time and change the way we view the world.

Google is starting out with a large education campaign “Unconscious Bias @ Work” and “Bias-Busters,” role playing real scenarios.  One example is the learning that~10% of YouTube videos were uploading upside-down through iOS uploader. Turns out none of the engineers of the app were left handed, and videos are filmed horizontally in a different way.

To address biases, it’s important to commit to actions:

1) Structure for Success
2) Collect Data
3) Evaluate Subtle Messages
4) Hold Everyone Accountable

Think about the questions you might not be asking because of your blind spots.

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Those traveling the industry conference circuit (any industry, really) recognize that the most valuable panel discussions pull together transformative thinkers across different disciplines to arrive at deep insights. Those attending the W2O Group’s PreCommerce Summit had access to many such panels, including one that could have been called “Living the Promise of Data and Innovation,” which featured three dynamic leaders in their respective fields:

Following is an overview (presentations included) of the key points on how visionaries from a text analytics software company, an innovative government agency and the investment space combined to embody how we can all experience and live the promise of data and innovation.

Image 1Nithi Vivatrat (presentation) kicked things off by talking about “Empathy at Scale.” For years, Vivatrat has been driving the strategic vision of Clarabridge’s offerings, and he sees a new factor determining business success today: Empathy. In this context, empathy means listening to, understanding and contextualizing customer needs and conversation.

In Vivatrat’s estimation, companies who focus on customer empathy will have more success. “We need to learn to listen,” he said, “but we also need to learn to tell stories so others will listen and collaborate.” As one caveat, and where data meets innovation in this case, is that it’s important to have quantitative insight into the sentiment of relevant stakeholder conversations.

DamonDavis1Damon Davis (presentation) then took the stage to speak to goals and vision for innovation in the government sector, based on his experience at the IDEA Lab in the US Department of Health and Human Services. Davis is responsible for leading the Department’s efforts to promote the Health Data Initiative. While sharing how the government is liberating health data through that initiative on, Davis provided some compelling perspectives and statistics:

  • Healthcare is 20% of GDP in the U.S.
  • Data is driving multiple aspects of healthcare. … We are working to change its default setting from closed to open
  • Data has the ability to affect issues from organ donation to reporting adverse events

When pressed about innovation in the government sector, Davis related, “From the government’s perspective, we’ve been doing things the same way for generations. We’re now focused on trying to facilitate innovation by finding creative folks and empowering them to find creative solutions.”

[We also appreciated Davis’ nod to W2O Group Data Scientist Dr. Yash Gad, who’s doing amazing things with the very data that Davis is helping to make available through MDigitalLife.]

PivotConMike Edelhart (presentation) finished the panel presentations with a peek into an innovative concept aimed at identifying companies, markets or industries that are ripe for change: The Social Disruption Index (SDI). Currently in development, the SDI takes  numerous streams of data around companies and industries to effectively map their attributes and identify areas on the brink of innovation and disruption.

It’s worth noting that Edelhart is a seasoned media and Internet start-up executive, as well as the Lead Partner for Social Starts, an early stage investment fund. So while markets and investors often believe technology is the big disruptive force, Edelhart sees things differently.

“I look at 1,500 or more start-ups each year, and people think technology is the big disruptor. But it’s not. Business model innovation is the big disruptor, because they lead to better economics. Better economics win, and tech is just one way to initiate better economics.”

While certainly valuable for investors, the SDI could be crucial for established businesses looking to innovate and adapt to market trends, as well as entrepreneurs seeking clarity into the viability of their ideas. In Edelhart’s view, the SDI will help us all understand “where change happens first, and where change happens the fastest.”

To learn more about Edelhart’s perspective on innovation, see his recent interview with Aaron Strout.

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