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Thoughts and takeaways from the AAF Disruptive Technology Luncheon

Per usual, AAF’s 2016 Disruptive Technology luncheon exceeded my expectations.

An excellent panel consisting of Daniel Black from Glass-Media, Skip Howard from Spacee, and Preston Moxcey from Misfit/Fossil facilitated plenty of intriguing discussion around wearables, experiential engagements, and the changing retail space. Although the space was a bit smaller than last year’s event due to construction, Troy and the rest of the AAF Dallas team still managed to provide room for sponsors to engage attendees with booths and displays. Everyone seemed genuinely interested in the content shared, which is always awesome to see.

The idea of “dumbing down” a solution in order to really focus on what is important to buyers was brought up during the panel discussion. Veterans of both the software development and start-up worlds understand the idea of MVP or minimum viable product, but it’s easy to let features and additional functionalities run rampant during product development.

Most buyers of any solution have one or two large problems that they want to solve – everything else is usually a bonus, but not a necessity. For Glass-Media, restaurant owners weren’t looking to start with an incredibly robust CMS (content management system) or crazy analytics capabilities (although Glass-Media offers both features). CEO Daniel Black realized that most restaurant managers just wanted to have simple capabilities like splitting day part promotions on a digital display (display shows breakfast items for breakfast and lunch items for lunch, etc). For Fossil, the realization was that nobody really cared about the plethora of capabilities that a smart watch could have, but provide a pedometer…and all the sudden people were shelling out their money.

Another interesting discussion was around the place of in-store and experiential marketing in an increasingly digital world. On one hand, many brands are struggling to track and engage consumers when they leave their home or put down their phone and walk into a brick & mortar location. On the other hand, many traditionally e-commerce only brands like Frank & Oak are opening up pop up shops, and digital companies like Google are starting to take advantage of the interaction opportunities a physical location provides.

I’d like to commend AAF President Troy Lott on a great job putting together an event that focused on discussions and real innovation. No fluff, no selling, just well-facilitated discussions about the future of tech, marketing, and brand building.