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It is that time of year again… South by Southwest (SXSW). Once again, our company will be hosting some awesome events leading up to (and slightly overlapping with) SXSW Interactive. For those not familiar, SXSW is a giant conference/festival comprised of three parts: Interactive, Film and Music. Given the importance of Interactive or “digital” to our clients’ business, we take this opportunity to invite many of our clients and partners to town to learn, network and celebrate.

Recap video from our awesome 2015 events

Our signature event, the PreCommerce Summit, takes place on Thursday, March 10 from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and is packed with speakers from well-known brands like Bayer, Hewlett Packard, Best Buy, Medtronic, Intel and Overstock.com. We will also have thought leaders from companies like Techonomy, Politico, NewCo and Crowd Companies providing a look at what the future holds in store. This event focuses squarely on innovation and its fast-paced formats (10 to 20 minute TED-like talks, power panels and pithy fireside chats) allow for learning on steroids. And of course there is the networking.

This event will be attended by about 450 plus customers, partners and other industry thought leaders. A cocktail reception will follow with special WILCO side project, Autumn Defense. The event is complementary, but invite only. If you are interested in attending, please email us at info@w2ogroup.com. In that email, be sure to provide name, title and company. We will also be live streaming the event if you can’t physically be there. Registration is open to the public.

In addition to PreCommerce, we also host a digital brunch at our swank offices located in East Austin. If you like food trucks, cold-brewed coffee, music, cocktails, cool demos and lost of interesting people, you will enjoy this. We have also ordered sunny weather so this is a good opportunity to work on your tan.

Every SXSW, we do our best to cover “what’s next” in the world of  business. This year, we’re planning to host an event called “Movers and Shapers” (formerly GeekFest) on Saturday at CB’s (the new VIP event space at Stubbs) from 10:00 A.M – 2:00 P.M. Speakers include senior level marketers and thought leaders from companies like Intel, AbbVie, Galderma, Techonomy and Bayer. Featured speakers will include Ray Kerins, SVP Comms. & Govt. Relations at Bayer and Robert Scoble, Futurist at Rackspace.

In addition to these three amazing events, we will also host our seventh annual Geekacue Saturday night at iconic Stubbs BBQ on Red River. This year, we’ve booked Red Bull Sound Select artist, Not in the Face along with new festival darling, Black Pistol Fire (check out their video below).

If you need more proof that these events are amazing, check out my 2015 wrap up post.

You can find information on all of our events here.

Thursday, March 10th: Sixth Annual PreCommerce Summit –  It will be a series of 10 minute TED-style talks, panels, and fire side chats.

  • Eventbrite here (password required – email info@w2ogroup.com to request invite)
  • Zach’s Theatre: 1510 Toomey Rd, Austin, TX
  • Sessions run 9:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M.
  • Cocktail Hour from 5:00-6:00PM featuring band, Autumn Defense
  • Live stream available for those not able to attend coming soon
  • Complementary but invite only.

PreCommerce 2016 Speakers Include:

Friday, March 11th: Digital Brunch (350+ director to CMO level brand marketers/digital/social folks expected)

  • RSVP Here (no password required)
  • 3000 East Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX
  • 10:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.
  • Food trucks, music, innovative demos, coffee, brunch, and mimosa/Bloody Marys to fuel your first festival day
  • Shuttles available from the Stephen F. Austin Hotel starting at 9:45am

Saturday, March 12th: Movers & Shapers Summit (150 director to CMO level brand marketers/digital/social folks expected)

  • RSVP Here (password required — email info@w2ogroup.com to request invite)
  • Stubbs BBQ — VIP area called CB’s — 801 Red River St, Austin, TX

Movers & Shapers Speakers confirmed include:

7th Annual Geekacue: Saturday, March 12th:  (800 director to CMO level brand marketers/digital/social folks expected)

  • RSVP Here (password required – email info@w2ogroup.com to request invite)
  • Stubbs BBQ – 801 Red River St, Austin, TX
  • 6:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M.
  • Roundtrip shuttle available from the Stephen F. Austin Hotel starting at 4:45 PM
  • To RSVP contact info@w2ogroup.com (space is limited)

As you can imagine, space is limited at these events so please make sure to RSVP soon. And if you do RSVP and decide after that you can’t make it, please be courteous and let us/me know that your slot is available.

We are over-the-moon excited to have Bayer and SysomosDynamic Signal, Synthesio as our sponsors this year (2-3 more to be announced shortly). We greatly appreciate their support.

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PreCommerce Summit London

The W2O Group PreCommerce Summit London 2015 on Monday 14 September in London’s City Hall will focus on how we live, work and create in the digital world, and the challenges of the generational digital divide. With technology at our fingertips, we are living in a time where having multiple online personas is normal; work, life and play meaning that we have never been more empowered to control what information we want, when we want it and how we want it. But is being connected making us more disconnected?

Coinciding with London’s Social Media Week, our event convenes industry leaders, senior marketing and communications professionals, entrepreneurs, influential journalists and bloggers from across a broad range of industries and interests. Our distinguished panel includes:

·         Marvin Chow, Senior Director at Google

·         Jessica Federer, Chief Digital Officer at Bayer

·         Anna Gruebler, Artificial Intelligence specialist

·         Dina Rey, Head of Digital at Roche

·         Kriti Sharma, VP Data Strategy at Barclays

·         Simon Shipley, Marketing and Innovation Manager at Intel

·         Anita Yuen, Global Head of Digital Fundraising at UNICEF

We will be sharing more information about our panel, new members, as well as event highlights and topics in the coming weeks.

The event is by invitation only, so to reserve your seat, please do so early at W2O events.

See you on 14 September!

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It was my absolute pleasure to co-host our very first GeekFest with our president, Bob Pearson, and bring together some of the most interesting and technical minds for a great discussion on Open Source, Security, Digital Marketing and Emerging Tech.  This post will focus on our Open Source Software panel, with speakers Joe McCann, Matt Franklin and Boyd Hemphill.

Joe McCann

Joe McCann is a co-founder/CEO of NodeSource. He is a hacker, tinkerer, builder and breaker with more than 13 years of web, mobile and software development experience. He has a special fondness for Node.JS because he can rapidly prototype an idea within minutes. These speedy ideation sessions fed into his desire to help Fortune 500 companies build actual products that allow technology to be utilized in real world scenarios. Joe has a broad background ranging from being a techno DJ to working on Wall Street. The perspective he brings to technology is rather unique and unconventional. Joe is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit, actively promoting emerging technologies and relevant business use cases to bring pragmatism to futurism.

Joe opened the discussion by talking about the macro-trend of unbundling, using cable tv subscriptions as an analog for the future of app development.  In 2014 we reached an inflection point wherein there were as many people with Cable TV vs Internet Subscribersbroadband Internet connections to their homes as there were cable TV subscribers – more and more of those customers want to pay for only the television services they use.  Similarly companies are unbundling – eBay and PayPal split up, Symantec has created Veritas to unbundle their information tech business, and HP announced that they will be splitting into two companies.
Node.JS is well suited for this move in the app space – centered around the idea of creating smaller, unbundled services, which interact via api “contracts” and creating smaller, more agile and manageable micro-services designed to scale.
Joe closed out with the point that every company is ultimately a tech company and must learn to use technology to the betterment of their business.  By moving away from macro-services and large, unwieldy codebases they can become more responsive to the changes in their industry.

Matt Franklin

Our own Matt Franklin is a technical and business leader with experience leading efforts in open source investment, software architecture, big data analytics, identity management, agile software development, service oriented architecture, and social business integration.

As an advocate of open source software, Matt is always looking to apply business practices that pragmatically leverage and contribute to the open source software community. He is an active member of the Apache Software Foundation and participates in local and global open source outreach as an organizer of BarCamps, meet-ups and conferences.

Matt gave the group a great introduction into the Apache Software Foundation, the largest foundation dedicated to the creation and support of Open Source Software.  He introduced us to the mission and purpose of the ASF and the pivotal support it brings to open source projects.  The Apache Way, although often seen by outsiders as a heavyweight process, has been honed over the years to give projects the support they need to flourish.

“The incubator project is the entry path into the Apache Software Foundation for projects and codebases wishing to become part of the Foundation’s efforts.”

He also introduced us to a few projects currently in incubation and some new projects coming into Apache.
  • Kylin is a SQL-style interface on Hadoop recently open sourced from eBay
  • NiFi is a powerful visual system to process and distribute data
  • Tinkerpop is an open source graph computing framework working on it’s first official Apache release
  • Zepplin provides a beautiful data-driven, interactive and collaborative documents with SQL, Scala and more
  • HTrace provides a mechanism for easily tracing processes in distributed systems
  • Ignite is an in-memory data processing fabric designed to deliver uncompromised performance

Boyd

Boyd Hemphill, the Technology Evangelist for StackEngine, is a DevOps thought leader and builder of communities.  With over 25 years of technical experience, he has served as:Implementor of the Theory of Constraints as it applies to the Software Delivery Life Cycle, Automator of tasks that need doing more than once, Systems architect who provides ongoing vision, strategic guidance and mentorship for development teams to ensure long-term systems and data integrity, and Enabler of small teams to set and accomplish large goals.

Boyd is a force for good in the Austin Developer Community, serving as a mentor for many startups and developers.  He can be frequently found running or speaking at Meetups for Austin DevOps, Docker Austin, and other groups, volunteering with Geek Austin events, such as Data Days Texas, and is anchoring the upcoming Container Days Conference.

Boyd talked to us about two upcoming tidal waves – Docker and Lamdba.  Docker is a hot topic among the infrastructure community, which takes virtualization to the next level enabling unheard of level of efficiency.  Docker is moving fast, having gone from preview to production release in under 18 months, and it’s already fully supported by AWS and Google Cloud.  Lambda is a new service announced at Amazon’s latest Re:Invent conference, which creates an ecosystem of event-triggered micro-services.  This allows code to be run only when needed and the attached infrastructure to be billed in sub-second increments.  Together these innovations will dramatically change the way in which applications are created, and with the improved efficiency significantly lower the cost of running an infrastructure.

My favorite point from Boyd’s talk was around disposable environments.  SysAdmins used to treat their infrastructure personally – each server was hand built, lovingly named and carefully cared for.  With the advent of Cloud Computing we’re now treating infrastructure as cattle instead of pets – servers come up and down automatically, do their work then go away.  With micro services and Docker the movement is now to ants instead of cattle – they are so disposable you don’t even notice that you’re stepping on them.  At StackEngine, Boyd is building the tools that make the ants all march in formation.

A huge thanks to all of our speakers at GeekFest.  We’ll be posting the videos from that and our other SXW2O events soon.

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

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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

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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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

 

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

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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.

 

ABOUT THE PANELISTS

________________________________________________

 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.

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

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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 HealthData.gov, 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.

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

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Greg Matthews (MDigitalLife), Maureen Carlson (GoodScout) & Dede Stefano (MDAnderson) hosted a panel during the #SXW2O Pre-Commerce Summit to announce the release of a new report, “Decoding The Cancer Center Constituent”, exploring the behavioral patterns of Cancer Centers constituents.

“Good Scout Group and MDigital Life came together with a shared belief that data compels your smarter story. Whether it is the ammunition to convince a company you are a right-fit partner or the analytics to craft actionable marketing and media strategies, knowing more can be the differentiator that ignites success. In the spirit of knowing more and doing more with that knowledge, we collectively set out to profile the unique attributes of the cancer center constituent. Decoding The Cancer Center Constituent outlines specific brand preferences, lifestyles and key interests of individuals that currently follow the top 50 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the U.S.” Using MDigitalLife, W2O Group and Good Scout Group conducted a psychosocial profiling study to identify specific behaviors, affinities and conversations of U.S.-based cancer center constituents. The sample set included 10,000 handles following at least one of the top 50 cancer centers.

Matthews explained the need for cancer centers to know their audience, “As healthcare has changed we have seen a real need to understand who our audiences are online.” More important than just knowing who your audience is, knowing what they say and who they follow is crucial. “If you consider who you are following on twitter it actually says a lot about what you like – who you are. By looking at the followers of an organization we can understand what they are about. In this report we looked at the twitter followers for all of the comprehensive cancer centers in the United States and we looked at how the accounts that those folks followed compared to a normative data set. It gave us a sense of how the audiences of the cancer centers are different than the audiences of other organizations.”

Good Scout President, Maureen Carlson shared some key insights from the report with the audience at Pre-Commerce. Based on the cancer center constituents research, 61% of cancer center followers are female, the overall audience tends to be predominantly white/non-hispanic and over 75% are ages 18-45. Top brand affinities included Walgreens, Microsoft & Nordstroms. Carlson explained: “We learned that there is a highly engaged user base, that is very interested and connected to healthcare. Many are engaged users but they are not acting, not donating to these cancer centers. If you look at the top 3 consumer brands you see Walgreens, Microsoft & Nordstroms. We need to know this information in order to align our messages with the brands our constituents are following. We should be looking at this data to cross reference with these brands to understand how we are doing.”

Finally, Dede Stefano, Executive Director of Corporate Alliances at MD Anderson explained the challenges her organization faces, “Our challenge is 2 fold: federal funding for cancer research is flat at best. We also are about to have a crisis because cancer is a disease of the elderly… The good news is people are living longer but that is also the bad news. The population is quickly aging.”

Stefano and her organization see value in the information uncovered in the report, “Reports like this are very important because it gives the ability to target our corporate partners by brand affinity and we want to make sure that our audience is aligned. This report gives us a strategic and tactical way to do that. It gives us the ability to educate our consumers and our brands. We need to use every tool in our arsenal to make these smart decisions. We cannot afford to ignore the data.”
To download the entire report visit http://www.goodscoutgroup.com/decodingcancer/
For more information on our SXW2O events and our speakers, please visit our website: http://w2oevents.com
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