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Marketing in the world of tech takes agility, a mastery of technology, and a deep understanding of audience. Technology has evolved drastically, and because of this, the way tech is marketed has evolved tremendously.

This week Alyson Griffin, VP of Global Brand & Thought Leadership at Intel, joins the podcast to share how to market in today’s tech industry. Alyson is no stranger to W2O, we have the pleasure of working with Intel as a client, so we are aware of the groundbreaking work they do everyday. Additionally, she spoke during our SXSW events, where she shared how to evolve business models in order to find next gen consumers. During this episode she shares how the world of tech has changed, how to market well in the tech space, and her love of Nirvana. Take a listen below.


If you’re interested in knowing more about what we do at SXSW, check out our recap page. If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About page. Don’t miss an episode of What2Know, subscribe to our podcast!

Last week UK academics and representatives from the NHS and a couple of young people gathered at the House of Commons to take part in a panel run by GlobalNet21 on how we should approach meeting the healthcare needs of Generation Z. More meetup than formal consultation, I quite welcomed the unexpectedly random circumstances that gave the evening a more informal feel then you would expect: the Sri Lankan concurrent event which meant we spent ages in a very busy security queue outside, the change of room, the constant division bells for MP participation and the lack of attendance of perhaps the star of the show, the MP Lisa Cameron (SNP), herself.

None of that mattered much in the end because I was able to catch enough of the opener, the setting-the-scene Q&A between Dr. Sarah Lewis, Research Associate on the Digital Health Generation project, and two young people, Jack and Alex, and heard what they had to say about how Generation Z finds and uses healthcare information. The most important point they highlighted was the difficulty in finding information that they can trust. It was clear they feel they are navigating through all sorts of unfiltered information and it isn’t easy to find credible experiences as sites/apps aren’t advertised adequately. They noted the danger of winding up in bubbles of misinformation but seemed aware of this and clearly had started to craft strategies to mitigate its risk. To form fairly confident decisions, they reported having to constantly check with other sources in order to root out healthcare’s equivalent of fake news. In particular, they called out finding the experiences of others on YouTube as a key place to find information in a way that is not only trustworthy but engaging.

This was perhaps the most important point for me in the session and Hazel Jones, Director of Apps, Wearables and Uptake, NHS Digital, picked up on it and said that she agreed they needed to do more to reach young people through vloggers and were testing concepts using ambassadors. For me, this was the gold nugget I would take away from the event. In my own work researching perceptions around the patient journey, from symptoms, through diagnosis and then onto experiences on treatment I am often staggered by the hugely personal stories shared online by patients themselves and the way online relationships make all the difference to the quality of their lives. As an example, survivors in breast cancer tell others not to Google, not because they don’t want them to find information for themselves, but because oncology data moves so fast, what they are likely to find is already out-of-date and can even cause panic. Here, more than ever, this role of peer-advisor approach is critical. It is on the level of life and death itself, it’s that important.

Unfortunately, the subsequent conversation was directed mostly at healthcare apps. This was a shame as I didn’t see much evidence that Jack and Alex found them particularly valuable. The room was full of people who wanted to mention the buzzwords of big data and IoT and so we got carried off on a discussion on what sounded like what young people clearly want is to be able to track their data, huge amounts of it, and probably all the time. Dr. Emma Rich, Reader/Associate Professor in the Department for Health at the University of Bath tried to reel this in by saying this probably isn’t the future we should be imagining. There are mental health issues that can arise with an overzealous tracking of personal minutiae that we are best to avoid.

Emerging technologies clearly have a key role to play in this but we just need to find better ways to help people find each other to share experiences, and perhaps this is especially true for Generation Z. In this event we only briefly touched on some of what I think are the most important issues. Continuity of care was noted by Professor Andy Miah, PhD, Chair in Science Communications & Future Media, University of Salford and this is of critical importance in accessing services when you live a mobile life, for example, say at university for half the year. You could add digital literacy to that list as well as the emerging consent literacy which we all could use help with.

From my perspective, certainly in our own work at W2O with patients and clinicians, the gaps we see most are not in the technology or the capturing of the data. Where most work needs to be done is around what do the new signals we see in healthcare data actually mean? A cardiologist told me recently that he only wanted to know about a new diagnostic biomarker if it leads to a clinical decision. Whilst it might be interesting from a scientific perspective, it ultimately was just not very useful. Without a sense of what fundamental healthcare behaviours we need to encourage and without the medical evidence to really understand what data points support these over time, we won’t be able to make all this fascinating new data ‘work’ for any of us.

Our strategic partner, Techonomy, kicks off Techonomy NYC today, where leaders from across industries are discussing the fast-moving trends transforming business and society.

You won’t want to miss out the content! Tune into the conference via the livestream below as experts dive into artificial intelligence, media, government and policy, sustainability, social media, financial tech, the future of healthcare, corporate social responsibility and so much more.

The two-day conference will look at the technologies driving change in both business and society, the progress these technologies can create, and the potential peril that comes from missteps and unintended consequences. This year, talks are framed by the United Nations’ Global Goals for 2030: how can tech and business drive responsible growth.

The full conference agenda with panels and times can be found here.

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I recently had the chance to sit down with two tech pioneers and pick their brain about what they’re calling “digital transformation.” Aled Miles is the CEO of W2O client TeleSign, and Anand Subramanian is a serial entrepreneur and the recipient of the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards.

We covered everything from the seamlessness of ordering your Uber with an Amazon Echo by just asking Alexa, to how authentication relates to privacy, to creating a robust technology community among nations.

These technology leaders were genuine and thoughtful (Anand is a rocket scientist by education), and provide a unique understanding of how technology permeates our life in ways that aren’t necessarily straightforward.

I learned a lot from these two, and I hope you will too. Hope you enjoy!

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Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are hot topics everywhere right now, in every industry, including marketing. Everyone is looking for that edge to help get ahead of their competition – what we at W2O call an unfair advantage – and looking at AI as the ‘silver bullet’ to help provide that something extra. But does it really work that way? Will AI really give us all the answers to keep us one step ahead?

W2O has one of the oldest data science groups in the industry.  With over 25% of our staff in Analytics, Data Sciences and Development, W2O have been applying these techniques to how we generate better insights for years. I thought I’d sit down with two of our top experts to find out just how modern techniques improve efficiency and effectiveness for marketing and communications insights. Dr. Helene Brashear and Dr. Yash Gad are two Senior Data Scientists with W2O and have been developing solutions for applying AI and ML in our agency environment. Here is what they had to say about where we are now, and what the future holds for agencies:

Madelyn –  In an agency setting, what is AI, and what do we use it to do?

Yash Gad (YG) – For me, anything we can do to speed up work, make us do things more consistently and more efficiently, that’s the job of any good software design. We use it to tag certain data in certain ways and cluster data for a start.

Helene Brashear (HB) – We look for opportunities to decrease time for work or do something we haven’t been able to do before, like handle extremely large volumes of data.

YG – We could throw hundreds and hundreds of people hours at the same problems, but it wouldn’t make sense – we can’t spend the Analyst hours doing that; we need them to spend those hours doing smarter things.

HB – We can now explore data in new ways – looking for the computational models underlying the unstructured data and matching that to our mental models. It’s like the analogy of mapping a neighborhood – if you map of the streets, you can predict the paths that go from point A to B most logically.

Madelyn – OK, this is interesting theory, and great background, but how does applying these models at W2O offer us and our clients an advantage? What is different about these techniques we can’t get to in another way?

YG – Larger and larger scale data sets that would take years if we tried to process them using manual or old techniques. But the real difference is that we can get to an answer we couldn’t get to otherwise; through other manual means. Using these models can reveal unique perspectives we wouldn’t see through brute force of scaling machines.

HB – It’s also a team effort between Data Science, Analytics, and the Strategy teams to come up with the right inputs to get to the question and input design. We need to know what we are looking for to design the models and inputs the right way. When you are teaching a model to look for patterns or recognize paths, you must know what to teach it. This approach requires a blend of domain expertise across the whole creative and agency set, plus analytical work, and machine learning.

Madelyn – Broadly speaking, how do we apply AI/ML to our processes and data sets? Do we see unique benefit for healthcare clients here? How about technology clients?

HB – There are unique challenges to Structured v unstructured data – Healthcare has lots of structured data (like Provider ID numbers, taxonomies, prescription fill data), which require a different approach, and connecting it all are still a challenge.  The highly structured data is nice for data structures, but requires more domain expertise to model relevant medical context.  Nearly everyone but healthcare has unstructured data, and that presents its own challenges of modeling and interpretation; but we share and learn from all approaches.

Madelyn – What do you think is next or most exciting for our industry or team in this space?

YG – New industries and areas are becoming fans of AI and ML and are becoming familiar with the space, so reading out what the models are giving us in human terms is an increasing challenge – giving out new translations in business-speak.

HB – Distilling knowledge from machine learning models is a big challenge – training a model isn’t good enough.  We spend lots of time validated and stress testing models for real world performance. Sometimes you may need to prove that your model isn’t doing something illegal, like in finance or other regulated industries. We must understand what biases our models have so that we understand the outcomes it produces and how we may be impacted by them. Seeing Data Sciences and AI as a collaborative tool and not as a magic box. It’s something that helps people amplify their own talents – the inputs make the outputs, just like a good creative brief makes creative better, working with your DS team makes your data analysis tools better.

 One of the challenges of machine learning is that results can be mathematically correct, but not interpretable or meaningful.  Because of this you spend a lot of your time strategically crafting your research questions and curating your data.

W2O will continue to stay on top of all things data and insights, especially as they impact delivering marketing and communications value for our clients. Stay tuned for more on the future of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as it applies to your world, and reach out with any comments or questions you may

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Today’s marketing executives are in a challenging position. There are new channels popping up every day. There are new types of media formats that they are introduced to seemingly on a daily basis. There are new ways to distribute content that they get exposed to as they are planning new campaigns. The job of the modern-day marketer is hard. In order to combat those challenges many marketers turn to marketing technology in order to help them scale. One problem with that, though: There are over 5,000 tools available on the market today. Even worse, the majority of those same tools don’t provide a comprehensive view of the customer. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but the situation is made even more complicated by an often-tense relationship with the IT department. Note: IT is your friend.

At W2O, we see this situation all the time. Someone within the organization has engaged a vendor with very few business requirements, limited organizational buy-in and almost no process in order to grow adoption of said vendor. Worse yet, there may have been a solution to the problem that the organization has already built.

The number of tools that hit the market is not going to slow down any time soon so the conundrum of whether or not the organization buys a tool or builds a solution in-house isn’t going away.  Because of that, we have come up with a framework to help guide your decision-making. This simple framework is designed to objectively evaluate opportunities regardless of internal dynamics, preconceived notions or ego. The framework isn’t bulletproof (no framework is), but it is a push in the right direction to get the entire org on the same page.

In this simplified framework, there are two scales to consider:

Customization – How much custom functionality do we require? How much of the vendor’s out-of-the-box product would need to be changed?

Specialization – How specific is the functionality to a marketing channel or type of technology? How much do we need the vendor’s expertise?

With this in mind, we can plot where build and buy make sense:

Buy: If your functionality requires a high amount of specialization (that you likely do not have internally) and a low amount of customization, go ahead and purchase something as close to out-of-the-box as you can

Build: If the functionality that you need is fairly standard technology but requires a lot of customization for your specific org, you should consider building internally

Consult: This one is interesting – if you do not feel a vendor can meet your customization needs, but you also do not feel you have the internal knowledge to build the functionality, see if you can pay for consulting hours. It won’t be ideal for the vendor. However, I’ve rarely seen vendor’s turn away a paycheck.

Ignore/Hack: If you need functionality that is neither specific nor custom, evaluate if you really need that functionality at all. If you do, see if you can cheaply hack it together for a while in order to focus on more impactful initiatives.

Of course, this framework ignores other important factors like the temporal need for the functionality (how long are we going to use this?) and the internal resources (do we have anyone to work on this?) but it should help set you down the right path as you try to build better marketing campaigns, distribute content more effectively and ultimately improve return on investment.

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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.

 

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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 (http://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.

Summary

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’ (http://www.himss.org/news/part-1-navigating-blockchain-landscape-opportunities-digital-health).

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.

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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.

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