Fortune Brainstorm Tech Inspires Marketers With Possibilities

  • by Mack McKelvey
  • Jul 20, 2016

Fortune Brainstorm Tech was not billed as a marketing conference. There were no mainstage discussions about campaigns, content, pricing trends, or ad blockers. But plenty of other topics on the agenda were near and dear to marketers, who were among the 600-plus C-level executives who last week descended on Aspen, Colo., to talk about advancements in connected cars, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, blockchain, health, retail, storage, virtual/augmented/mixed reality, payments, the Pokémon GO craze, and even transistors that detect extraterrestrial signals.

Every marketer I met told me they felt more informed, better networked, and reinvigorated about their companies and industries.

Speakers at Fortune Brainstorm Tech included the CEOs from Intel, Airbnb, GM, FitBit, Girls That Code, OpenTable, TaskRabbit, Cisco, PayPal, Twilio, DraftKings, Warner Brothers, Virgin Galactic, Lyft, and Disney. Among the conversations: The SVP of Amazon Devices discussed the inspiration, development, and some of the future applications for Alexa Echo; the CEO of Toys “R” Us talked about how the retailer will continue to thrive in the digital era; AOL co-founder Steve Case discussed “The Third Wave” through the lens of global market opportunity; and Magic Leap’s CEO and CMO inspired with examples of the company’s mixed-reality (MR) technology.

Fortunately, due to the strong networking events engrained into the fabric of the conference–along with cancelled flights and an unexpected four-hour drive to Denver with some incredible CMOs, CEOs, and heads of innovation–I was able to gather more detailed takeaways from several senior attendees. Here’s what they told me.

  • Steven Wolfe Pereira, CMO, Neustar: “It was amazing to hear so many CEOs discuss how the Internet of Things is really going to be transforming business. There are more devices connected to the Internet than people in 2016. CMOs need to start thinking about what a connected customer experience looks like across people, places, and things.”
  • Michael Zimbalist, CMO, Simulmedia: “I managed to learn more about bitcoin and the blockchain in one hour than I have in all the past years of reading about it. The sessions on media and marketing affirmed that my fellow CMOs have a nuanced and insightful approach to customer acquisition that emphasizes multiplatform connections between analog and digital.”
  • Rachel Weiss, VP of Innovation, L’Oreal: “We are in a new era and cycle of technology to improve the lives of human beings. Collaboration and empathy is a key responsibility for everyone creating experiences around artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and a new collaboration economy. I left the conference with a strong feeling of social responsibility as a marketer building next-generation technology that can impact the identity and happiness of our customers.”
  • Jennifer Lum, Co-Founder, Adelphic: “The rapid growth of connectivity is changing the way that businesses must design and deliver their products and services to consumers. While access to data is essential, it is not enough. There is increasing value in the speed at which businesses apply data science and technologies to deliver more informed services to consumers via their connected devices at home, in the car, out of home, and at work.”

I’ll close with my own takeaway: This was my third year at Fortune Brainstorm Tech. The CMOs who show up are some of the brightest marketing minds I’ve met in my career. CMOs who want to have a seat at the business table need to attend and participate in the discussions about innovation, learn from their peers, and become a real part of tech’s evolution.

This article was originally published on


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