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FutureM Boston 2015

Lynn Spooner October 15, 2015 Branding & Design, Marketing, Technology

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The annual FutureM conference in Boston, powered by MITX, brings together marketing and technology professionals for three days to contemplate and celebrate the Future of Marketing.

I’m definitely not the biggest technology nerd in the Jackrabbit office. However, I was nonetheless excited to hear from speakers with titles such as “Futurist”, “Chief Marketing Technologist”, “Chief Innovation Architect”. And the one and only “The Inventor of the Internet”!

This year we heard from many incredibly innovative marketing and technology leaders. All in an environment that promoted the theme “CONNECT, CREATE, INNOVATE”. This experience gave me an exciting glimpse into the future of marketing and technology!

It was awesome to be a part of these marketing focused sessions. It was equally inspirted to be a part of other interesting technology conversations that were sparked from the sesssions. These were topics such as artificial intelligence, robots, virtual reality, emotion sensors! As well as enchanted objects, 3d printing, responsive cities, flying cars, hoverboards, and invisibility cloaks!

So, what does the Future look like?

Keynote speaker Brian David Johnson, Futurist & Principal Engineer of Intel, offered some great insights on how we can expect our future to take shape. He shared that the future will be designed for REAL people. Though that might sound ordinary at first, it’s actually quite extraordinary! It is a future that is highly customized to meet our needs in ways we never imagined possible. He talked about the typical portrayal of the future. How it is one that includes a sterile and minimalistic room, void of anything humanistic. He says this portrayal is, at best, intellectually dishonest and, at worst, insulting. The future will be about real people who will be highly connected to all the “stuff” that matters to them.

We will see connected technologies integrated into our everyday lives, giving us access and customization like never before. Eric Snow, SVP, Corporate Communications for PTC shared many ways this can transform industries, cities, and lives. We’ll see technology used for the sake of humanity. For example, inspiring Keynote speaker Mike Ebeling, CEO of Not Impossible Labs, shared how his community of innovators is creating technology and programs that are truly changing lives. We’ll see it change the way we work and do business. As well as the way we play and enjoy life. Sounds pretty exciting, right?!


The future of marketing is highly personal.

Ram Krishanan, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer at PepsiCo, spoke in a keynote about “Innovation in Marketing”. He shared how using data is the key. It provides a powerful guide to creating more innovative marketing campaigns, where personalization and customization play a major role. Ram’s marketing mantra is to create relevant, experiential campaigns. Campaigns that utilize technology and insights to drive consumers to create, share, and take action.

Throughout Ram’s session, he gave impressive case studies. These case studies highlighted how specific Pepsi brands are creating engaging consumer interactions. They do this by using highly customized content that reinforces the brand message. In this changing consumer landscape, we must “innovate or die”, says Ram. The Doritos #boldstage campaign, for example, found a key opportunity to communicate their slogan “for the bold” at SXSW. This campaign gave attendees a fully interactive concert experience worth talking about.

Uri Minkoff, Co-Founder & CEO of the fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff, spoke about the company’s philosophy of truly listening to their consumers, incorporating that feedback into the brand and products, and using innovative technologies to customize a one-of-kind retail experience. Their strategy appears to be tremendously successful. They’ve created one of the fastest-growing fashion brands using innovative technologies in their approach to marketing and consumer experience.


The changing consumer landscape.

One recurring theme at FutureM sessions was how social media continues to change how consumers interact with companies. It has changed the types of conversations consumers now expect to have with their favorite brands. It has also transformed how we, as Marketing Technologists, will need to communicate and deliver a brand experience.

What do the technology-driven consumers of today want and expect?
Consumers want to EXPERIENCE your brand, and they want that experience to be personalized. They like to engage with a brand, but on their own terms. Also, they like opportunities for a personalized celebrity-style experience in some cases, but still want the option to be anonymous. Above all, they want to be a part of the brand conversation. They especially like it when brands give them opportunities to have a voice and to co-create content. They seek shareable content, and brands now need to measure ROI from a different perspective – “Return on Image”, says Ram Krishnan. Visual BrandPower™, created by David Rose, CEO of Ditto Labs, is now something we should be paying attention to as a way to measure brand health in terms of market share AND photo share.

With technology as the new universal language, social media has started a new type of global conversation among consumers. Conventional marketing wisdom, which says a dissatisfied customer tells ten people, has been transformed through social media. Social media means that that dissatisfied customer can now tell the entire world. Brands will need to find more innovative ways to not only listen to the conversations happening, but also contribute to them, shape them, and analyze them. More so than ever we must use the collected data to create relevant content and more customized experiences.


The Internet of Things (IoT)

Smart objects, smart buildings, smart cities, and smart homes. We’re seeing more and more computational power and connectivity added all around us. Even in the objects we wear, carry, and use everyday. In the future we’ll see even larger amounts of data from diverse locations. This data will be aggregated extremely quickly, and better indexed, stored, and processed for use to inform decisions. Gartner forecasts that by 2020, 25 billion connected things will be in use. Cisco estimates about 50 billion will be connected and Morgan Stanley feels that number can actually be as high as 75 billion.

Some applications mentioned by FutureM speakers both impressed the audience and also sparked important conversations around privacy and data ownership. A smart sprinkler system will automatically check the local weather conditions before turning on. The smart car self-monitors and self-diagnoses to a variety of issues. Your smart oven will determine when your cookies are the perfect golden brown color. Smart products you buy will automatically collect data and stream it back to the brand. This will provide endless opportunities for brands to listen and respond to your needs and resolve issues.

Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson poses the question: “What happens when the unit of compute gets so small, efficient, and cost effective that we can put it anywhere and everywhere”? He suggests it is no longer a question of can we, but it becomes about what and why. We begin to ask ourselves, how do we want to shape our own future? And the answer is the future will be what we make it. So let’s work together to make it great.

In Conclusion

FutureM was informative, insightful, and forward-thinking. I learned a lot of great new things! Foremost among them is the need to continually reevaluate the audience to which our clients are marketing themselves. The landscape is constantly changing, but we certainly have the tools and creativity to keep pace.

Want to see more event highlights shared on twitter from start to finish?
Check out the FutureM 2015 storify!



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