29 Apr 2015

All posts from 29 Apr 2015

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IN-NW Day 1: Exploring Technology Futures with Google, PwC, and Artefact

How can we increase the representation of women in tech? How can organizations effectively make big ideas a reality, and how can design technology help? Ninety-minute Dig-In sessions across Seattle asked big questions of speakers and attendees on day one of this year’s IN-NW conference. Sessions included technology demos, panel discussions, and group collaboration activities, all geared at re-examining and changing the status quo in communication and technology.

Check out wrap-ups of day one Dig-In sessions at Google, PwC, and Artefact below, and check out our companion coverage of day one’s additional Dig-In sessions at Theo Chocolate, DWT, and K2, here.

PwC – The Art of the Possible

By Samantha Hautea – @mannerminded

“The purpose is to suspend all disbelief ,” explained customer journey specialist Scott Seear at the dig-in session with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), titled “The Art of the Possible.” “We want people to start thinking about the next five years and what that might look like.”

PwC IN-NW Scott Seear

Scott Seear presents at PwC at Tuesday’s Dig-In session: Image by Samantha Hautea

PwC focuses on helping organizations “find their way in the digital age,” and how to take seemingly impossible ideas and turn them into real, implemented solutions. The session focused on various aspects of how businesses can enhance the consumer experience and gain valuable insight to inform their own decisions. As an example, PwC presented a concept video of what the future of shopping might look like, in which customers receive a highly personalized experience based on their preferences. This experience would also result in a change of the roles, training, and education of the customer service staff, who will be working with access to much more information about who comes into their store.

PwC In-NW Dig In

Breakout teams at PwC’s Dig-In Session: Image by Kavya Parthasarathy

In the second half of the session, PwC’s speakers invited guests to put themselves in the position of customer journey specialists. Groups were challenged to take an existing industry — healthcare, transportation, banking, and media — and apply some of the ideas from the video to envision how disruptive technologies could be applied in various other sectors. Some of the ideas suggested were the ability to personalize the airline experience down to selecting your seatmate based on preference, and storing health information in a way that could be accessed by responders in an emergency.

After brainstorming these “impossible” ideas, groups were challenged to envision how its design and implementation could be realized. In the process, they found that making an idea reality is much more difficult than coming up with one — but that it doesn’t hurt to dream big, because one day that idea could take flight.

Google – Women in Tech and Gaming

By Shefali Sain – @shefalisain

At perhaps the most buzzed about Dig-In session of the day, IN-NW attendees packed Google’s Fremont campus to hear prominent women in technology talk about their careers and experiences in technology and gaming. The panel included Yvette Nameth, test engineer at Google; Linda Breneman, managing editor for Pixelkin; Kathie Flood, managing director for Cascade Game Foundry; and Alice Steinglass, vice president of product and marketing at Code.org.

Google Women Tech

The panel at the Women in Tech and Gaming Dig-In session: Image by Shefali Sain

The group emphasized the importance of learning computer science and talked about the disproportionately low representation of women in the technology and gaming industry. Without beating around the bush, the panel jumped straight to the solution – helping girls realize the enormous opportunity in the field of technology and gaming as a career path.

Google Women Technology

The crowed at the Women in Tech & Gaming session at Google: Image by Shefali Sain

With unanimous agreement that interest could only be built and sustained among girls if computer science education was introduced early, discussion turned to changing the narrative around computer science and exposing women to coding at elementary school. “There are careers in Computer Science, we’re not on the grid all the time,” said Flood.  And stressing the need to start early, Steinglass gave attendees some serious food for thought when she pointed to the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2020 there will be more than 1.4 million computing-related job openings. At current rates, however, we can only fill about 30% of those jobs with U.S. computer science bachelors grads, which only further emphasizes the need for more women in tech and gaming.

Artefact – Innovation in the Workplace

By Lance Trueb – @lancetrueb

When you step through the doors of the restored brick building that houses Artefact Group in downtown Seattle, you really don’t know what to expect. Dim lighting and modern architecture inside leads to an unmarked elevator. The elevator stops on the 5th floor and doors open to a beautiful open-layout office space that instantly makes a bold statement about the importance of design.

Aretefact Ankur Patel IN-NW

The afternoon Dig-In session at Artefact with Ankur Patel: Image by Shelly Ngo

“Designers don’t ship products. But here at Artefact, we’re beginning to,” said Ankur Patel, director of product management for Artefact, as he kicked off the conversation in front of a small but diverse group of IN-NW digital media fans. A quick round of intros revealed folks ranging from communication directors to consultants and event professionals.

“It’s gotten easier to build things, harder to build the right things.” With this statement, Patel articulated why Project Helium, a design tool to help users move from ideas to decisions, should be considered one of the “right” things. In Patel’s words, Project Helium seeks to empower people with a tool that enables them to:

  1. Amplify the quality of insights;
  2. Accelerate the time to converge on insights and decisions;
  3. Augment the human and team decision-making processes.

Patel encouraged the group to think of the tool as “Pinterest for Business.” Project Helium is still in beta, but currently there are 500 users, spanning 37 countries, and it’s set to debut in June 2015. For more information on Project Helium, check out the Artefact website.

Check back through the week for more coverage of IN-NW 2015!

 

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IN-NW Day 1: Exploring Technology Futures with Google, PwC, and Artefact
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IN-NW Dig-In Sessions: Big Names Leading Through Big Change, with Theo Chocolate, K2, and DWT

If exploring chocolate factories and the freezing environs for testing snow gear sounds like an ideal conference experience to you, then you would’ve been in luck at day one of IN-NW 2015. At six unique “Dig-In” sessions held across Seattle, attendees got both of the above experiences, all while being educated on how big brands leverage their communities and new communication technologies, and why innovators should mind their legal p’s and q’s.

Check out our wrap-ups of sessions at Theo Chocolate, K2, and Davis Wright Tremaine below, and check out our companion coverage of day one’s other Dig-In sessions, here.

Theo Chocolate – This Chocolate Bar Means Business

By Steffany Powell – @steffanypowell

It’s easy to find the Theo Chocolate factory in Fremont—just follow the delicious smell. It leads you to the factory tour and tasting room where, after being fitted with stylish blue hairnets, IN-NW attendees learned about the history of Theo and got to sample the different types of chocolate they make in the factory every day, from bean to bar.

Theo Chocolate

An IN-NW attendee enjoys a sample at Theo Chcolate: Image by Steffany Powell

Chief Marketing Officer Debra Music, Chief Operating Officer Dennis Macray, and Sourcing Manager Nathan Palmer Royston were on hand to answer questions about Theo Chocolate’s history, and vision for the future. Spurred by a deep love of the land and people of the tropics of Africa and South America, Theo founder Joe Whinney passionately worked to bring certified organic, fairly traded cocoa to the United States, He eventually created Theo Chocolate to eliminate the middle men, craft quality organic chocolate, and provide a fair income for the farmers who sustainably grow and harvest the beans.

Theo Chocolate

Beans at Theo Chocolate: Image by Steffany Powell

The tour is Theo’s most powerful marketing vehicles when it comes to communicating their narrative. When asked how that message is distilled to the general public, Palmer said, “So much of the general backstory of chocolate the public just doesn’t know,” further expounding on labor exploitation in conventional cocoa markets. Theo has personal relationships with each of their farmers, and ensure that fair labor practices are employed to produce their product.

Currently, Theo relies on their highly engaged social media communities for marketing and promotions. Their Facebook page invites fans to enter contests and their Instagram showcases the iconic designs that Theo aficionados have come to know and love. Music believes their current strategies are working, however, they are planning on reigning in and tightening up the brand and, for the first time ever, are seeking assistance from outside brand agencies.

Macray acknowledges that they are no longer the only organic, fair trade chocolate in the United States anymore—a trend they welcome—so their marketing strategies might need to change. But one thing that won’t change for Theo is their commitment to sustainable, organic, fair trade chocolate, and the ability to tailor their small batch chocolate to specific audiences.

Davis Wright Tremaine – Making the Revolution Legal

By Jillian Reddish – @myJillieBean

In a digital world that moves – and innovates – quickly, attorney Kraig Baker wants you to slow down.

“Almost every legal problem, regulatory issue, could have been avoided had the person innovating taken a step back, thought about it, and addressed the problem,” says Baker, the chair of Technology, Advertising, Trademark, and Entertainment Practice at Davis Wright Tremaine.

Kraig Baker DWT

Attorney Kraig Baker speaks at the Dig-In session at DWT: Image by Jillian Reddish

At a Dig-In Session packed with legal considerations and tips, even Baker needed to slow down a few times. “We’ve reached a point at which we’re disrupting against really hard problems…how to educate efficiently, provide balance production and economic growth with an efficient use of resources.” Add in the developments of the technology boom, and innovators are poised to solve some of these intractable problems in new and creative ways – until they run into legal hurdles, fines, and regulatory requirements.

“Being deliberate in how you approach innovation may mean you can avoid pitfalls later,” Baker said. “So how do we think through the applications of these tools?” Baker offered a room full of IN-NW attendees some practical considerations to keep in mind as innovators:

  • Think through the road map and avoid the risks of “mission creep”
  • Keep in mind that even when you thoroughly review risks for a tool’s current iteration, adding features requires new assessments of consequences, which can be especially relevant for contracts;
  • Avoid failure to your protect intellectual property, and, relatedly, the failure to enforce those rights;
  • Don’t leverage data for use beyond your original plan without thorough consideration: “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should,” Baker said.
  • Be sure to acquire individual contracts and/or releases from all contributors, including Wikis, independent contractors, and feedback from testers.

And when considering the need for future protections, Baker provided the audience with some final guiding questions to ask yourself as an innovator: “Who else will you disrupt? Who will be upset? Are the regulations in existence useful in protecting important society values, or are they barriers to entry that protect an oligarchy?”

In an expanding world of “BYOD” and “IaaS,” among countless other acronyms, Baker’s session was a helpful lesson in “CYA.”

K2 – Serious Fun  

By Donna Manders – @smokefreelife

Upon walking through the doors of K2, a pioneering ski and sports gear company you know immediately that you’ve left the ordinary world behind. The photo of majestic K2, the second highest peak in the world and one of the deadliest, located behind the front desk provides the first clue: Someone has stuck a cheeky little paper 12th man flag to its summit.

K2 ski snowboard

The back room at K2, where serious fun is had: Image by Donna Manders

As if in response to the image up front, Vice President of Marketing Jeff Mechura introduced the K2 brand and its motto saying, “We are here to have fun. Serious fun.” He pointed out that the gargantuan K2 building in the Sodo district, where the company moved eight years ago, is like a mullet, “All the business is in the front and the party is behind.”

The “party” area he refers to is the cavernous space where engineers design ski equipment, test materials with repetitive motion machines that replicate years of use, and build exact replicas of equipment used in Asia to manufacture K2 products.  IN-NW Dig-In attendees even got to spend some chilly moments in the freezer where materials are tested for their durability in sub-freezing temperatures.

Mechura described K2’s marketing and branding strategy as “organic.” “We don’t have a big bureaucracy here. We don’t work with outside agencies or design firms,” he said. “Messages are created everyday by our in-house crew and our athletes, who use their own networks to get the word out.”

K2 Jessie Cote

Jessie Cote Global Creative Manager at K2 fields questions at the Dig-In session on Tuesday: Image by Donna Manders

Jessie Cote, global creative manager for K2, showed how K2 uses Adobe Digital Marketing Suite to create and continuously update an app for buyers. The app allows an “elongated time for storytelling” via video. It also includes a page with the PDF’s needed to order and conduct other business with K2. “The app provides a lot more information than printed materials. People can download it before tradeshows to make their buying process easier,” she said. “It has really increased efficiencies.”

K2 is clearly “dialed-in” to its customers. It’s using worldclass engineering, continuous innovation, and evolving messaging and branding to stay that way.

Check back tomorrow for more coverage of IN-NW 2015!

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IN-NW Dig-In Sessions: Big Names Leading Through Big Change, with Theo Chocolate, K2, and DWT