Interview with Theo Priestley

Q&A with Theo Priestley

Theo Priestley is a technology evangelist and futurist. He has spent time analysing current and future technology trends and advising clients on how these will disrupt their business models and customers. Recognised as a thought leader and disruptive industry influencer, with a reputation of pulling no punches and cutting through the jargon. Theo gives keynotes and conference talks worldwide, and has written extensively for Forbes, Wired, Huffington Post on technology's impact.

He has also spent time mentoring early stage enterprise software startups on go-to-market, product and marketing strategies. Theo currently runs a video games development studio as Founder and CEO and is the creative director behind a new sci-fi IP.

Your job title isn’t one you come across every day. How did you end up doing what you do?

It’s pretty much been a culmination of a 20 year career in the tech industry, I like to spend a bit of time now and then looking at the current trends and seeing where they’re going to lead, reading up on new and emerging technologies and how they’ll apply themselves to society in general. Thankfully I didn’t come up with the titles myself, I’ve held a few positions where these skills were in demand.

What do you predict is the biggest tech trend that is set to disrupt the marketing industry in the next few years?

From my point of view and looking at what’s currently happening with GDPR and the Facebook saga, I think there will be a shift in what marketers do with data and what data will be available to them. This means that algorithmic and so-called AI trends will fail to deliver on the promise because you need information to make these work, a lot of it. 

I also think you can ignore some trends like Augmented Reality, or Voice for a while longer. We tend to get excited by shiny new technologies but the fact is the average consumer doesn’t care, so you really have to understand who you’re aiming to market at.

What can marketers be doing to make sure that they are ahead of the game?

Go back to basics and stop chasing technology that isn’t mature. 

You spend a bit of time mentoring start-ups. What advice would you give to someone who was considering launching a new tech company?

It’s tougher than you think. There’s a tendency for startups to think they can create the next Twitter or Facebook, or Slack for example, or copy Uber, and be bought out in 2 years. This is a complete fallacy. Nobody wants another me-too app, but what we do want is real life changing services that scale. I also don’t think there are enough hardware startups on the market today, but that’s even tougher because of the investment and prototyping required to get anywhere.

Are there any brands you’re particularly impressed with at the moment?

I used to think Tesla, now not so much. KLM are very impressive, not only for marketing but for customer service via social channels, pro-active and engaging and not a bot in sight. I also use Amazon heavily and frankly, love them or loathe them, they know exactly what they’re doing.

Share your go-to blogs, websites, feeds for keeping your finger on the pulse? 

Twitter. I rarely bookmark blogs anymore, most are paid advertisements masquerading as ‘thought leadership’ so I avoid the usual main sites, what I find via Twitter is really good content being shared by others who read and filter what’s rubbish and what’s not.

Ars Technica, and Wired are useful for snippets too.


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