DLD New York 2017: Bright Lights, Big City=Bright Minds, Big Data

Lithium Alumni (Retired)



Last week our CEO Rob Tarkoff participated in a panel at DLD New York on operationalizing digital transformation, and I wanted to share some insights from his session.



Before I get into that, a bit of background. DLD (Digital-Life-Design) is a series of events that aim to connect business leaders, creatives and industry opinion leaders. Originating in Munich in 2005, DLD has featured an array of speakers over the years including Mark Zuckerberg, Lady Gaga, Eric Schmidt and Alanis Morissette (isn’t that ironic, don’t you think?). What I love about it is that it’s not about pushing products – it’s about sharing ideas and furthering disciplines, all around the theme of how digital is changing our lives.


Now to the panel. Titled “Digital Transformation: From the why to the how” and featuring execs from Lufthansa, Wirecard and Kellogg Innovation Network, its aim was to explore what challenges exist for brands trying to accelerate their digital transformation, and how to actually implement digital successfully.


Three major themes emerged in the discussion:

  • Using digital and data to develop empathy and better connect with customers. Panelist Brad Garfield (Wirecard VP of product development) outlined how Wirecard has been “working to optimize the entire customer journey on digital,” which involves identifying where breaks in continuity could occur and ensuring that doesn’t happen. To achieve this, businesses must focus as much on the back-end infrastructure as the front-end user experience.
  • Finding the right balance between monetizing and building trust on digital, two goals that can often be at odds with each other. Rob cited T-Mobile as a great example of this, “They are using digital to fundamentally transform the brand. During Superbowl, CEO John Legere was on social building personal relationships with people and articulating the personality of T-Mobile’s brand, not talking about wireless plans and T-Mobile products/services.”
  • How brands can use digital to become better corporate citizens. On that topic, Lufthansa VP of marketing Alexander Schlaubitz said his company was “working to become the custodians of digital innovation” and helping make a legacy organization digital first, through tactics such as arming flight staff with digital devices so they can resolve customer issues in real-time. Alex also noted that Lufthansa is looking past just digital, to help consumers see travel as a way to actually reconnect physically (something that has become less frequent in the digital age).


Moderator Robert Wolcott, co-founder of the Kellogg Innovation Network, finished the panel by predicting that in the next five years computers will have access to such huge troves of data that they will actually be able to begin developing empathy. It’s a brave new world indeed.


Lithium also provided a Monitor Wall for DLD, which was prominently displayed in the main event hall. According to our tracking, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence were the two leading themes being discussed on social around the event.