Emerging Topics in Marketing: Omni-Channel, Wearables, and Big Data

Recently, I gathered with a group of digital marketing professionals to discuss emerging topics in marketing at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

It was my first time teaching the class and I was excited to develop the curriculum and plan the three-day session. I decided to cover three topics that should be on every CMO’s radar in this session of “Emerging Topics in Marketing,” pulled right out of the headlines appearing in just about every trade publication: omni-channel, wearables, and big data.

We started each topic by exploring what it is and progressed into a discussion of what it can do for us as marketers as why it’s important from a marketing point-of-view. Here are the definitions we used for omni-channel, wearables, and big data:


Omni-channel is as consumer-centric as it gets. When engaging with consumers on an omni-channel environment, it’s critical to view the entire brand experience through the eyes of the consumer; the consumer experience across all channels must be seamless, integrated, and consistent. Why? Consumers may start their journey on one channel and move to other channels as they progress to conversion.


What the hell are “wearables?” I cribbed (and then slightly modified) this definition from the folks at wearabledevices.com: The terms “wearable technology“, “wearable devices“, and “wearables” all refer to electronic technologies or computers that are incorporated into items of clothing and accessories which can comfortably be worn on the body. Wearable’s can provide sensory and scanning features not typically seen in mobile and laptop devices, such as biofeedback and tracking of physiological function.

Big Data

I’ve been doing a lot of work with the SAS folks of late over on Big Data Forum and I love Jill Dyche’s definition of big data (she’s the VP of Thought Leadership at SAS): “The emerging technologies and practices that enable the collection, processing, discovery, and storage of large volumes of structured and unstructured data quickly and cost-effectively.”

I worked my network and was fortunate enough to have three kick-ass guests, one for each topic.

Billy Aymami, a colleague of mine at Wipro Digital, came in to speak about omni-channel. Billy’s got a unique perspective about omni-channel, as he’s focused on user/consumer experience at Wipro Digital as part of his work in the digital transformation space. As I said above, omni-channel is about as consumer-centric as it gets, so having Billy’s user/consumer experience insights gleaned from years of working with top brands and agencies was invaluable.

The big takeaway: put the consumer first in all you do with omni-channel. That may sound pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many organizations jump into omni-channel initiatives with a technology-first approach and leave the consumer (and the consumer experience) completely out of the equation.

Ed Stening, the Associate Director of Digital Strategy & MultiChannel Marketing at Zoetis was our guest on the topic of wearables. He brought along a pair of Google Glass, which we all got to try on and play with for a few minutes. Ed’s a strategic thinker for sure, and a bit of a self-proclaimed geek when it comes to technology (and products like Google Glass). I found his views on the wearables space to be refreshing and smart. He shared a number of examples of wearables in the marketplace and their practical uses and also provided some tips from his personal and professional experience.

The big takeaway: test and learn. It’s early in the evolution of wearables and there’s not only lots to learn, there’s something new happening every day. Don’t be afraid to jump in, take some risks, and even make some mistakes – they’re great opportunities to learn and grow. That means getting your hands on wearable technology and maybe even doing a proof-of-concept pilot or three.

To wrap things up, my buddy and former client Imran Haque, Head of eCommerce, Digital Strategy and Multichannel Marketing at Zoetis, dropped in for a chat on the topic of big data. It was a spirited discussion driven by Imran’s opening question: “Is big data simply a pain for companies and ‘big brother’ for consumers?” We discussed some unique cases where big data is being applied and touched on the the CMO’s evolving role now that big data’s in the picture.

The big takeaway: Imran drove home the point that in order to make big data initiatives work, you’ve got to really take ownership of the outcomes. But the first order of business is understanding the problem you’re trying to solve. And don’t forget the culture of the organization (and the people it serves); there could be some work needed to transform people, processes, and more when making big data a part of your operational standard.

I’ll definitely run the three-day session again. It was that much fun! I’d love to see you there next time (perhaps the topics will be different). As I’ve recently started a new gig working with Wipro Digital as a Practice Director in the areas of digital strategy and innovation, I’m not sure when that’ll be. Drop me a note and I’ll put you on the contact list for future events/classes.

Are you working with (or interested in) omni-channel, wearables, or big data? Please share your experiences, thoughts, questions, or anything else that’s relevant, in the comments.


  1. says

    To give you an idea of just how awesome professor Gene is — I’d initially enrolled in my last class with a different NYU professor. But upon learning that Gene was teaching the “Emerging Topics in Marketing” for summer 2014, I immediately transferred to his class.

    Gene is an engaging and valuable teacher who is fantastic at merging real-world examples with hands on training. I particularly appreciate his added-value speaker segments which provide anecdotes that support each lesson.

    If you are looking to understand the digital industry in an engaging way, Gene is the guy! He is not recycling definitions and out-of-date techniques. He gives you information that you can plug-in to where you are in your career/search and tells it in a fresh way. NYU is lucky to have him.

    — Satisfied Digital Media Marketing certificate recipient |PG|

  2. Anne Marusic says

    “Emerging Topics in Marketing” was my second course with Gene. After enjoying a virtual course with him this fall, I was excited to meet Gene in person. One word: Amazing. This 3-day course flew by as Gene tackled these three important topics, we listened to some energized (and entertaining) speakers and broke out into in-class activities. One part life-coach, the other part digital / technology expert, Gene manages to inspire, teach and make us all better marketers and professionals. He has a way of imparting knowledge and bringing the class together. We left the course with practical knowledge and experience to bring to our jobs or lives on Monday. Thank you, Gene, for your insight and wisdom. It is my pleasure to know and learn from you.

  3. Lynn Nixoin says

    Gene’s “Emerging Topics in Marketing” class was awesome! Gene is clearly an expert in his field and he does a phenomenal job at teaching others. The three-day session was packed with valuable information about omni-channel, wearables, and big data. The guest speakers were also equally as engaging. I went in knowing nothing, and came out being able to have educated conversations with marketing leadership at my company. I would definitely take this class again in the future.

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