September 16, 2020

4 Innovators Who Have Led the Way During a Bumpy 2020

By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.

A mere nine months ago in this space, we were among those looking forward to what was shaping up to be a stellar year for the media and advertising worlds — what with the 2020 Summer Olympics slated to be sandwiched by the Democratic and Republican national conventions in mid-year.

But a couple of months later, along came COVID-19 and changed mostly everything. The Olympics now will be staged in 2021. The Democratic and Republican summits went mostly virtual. And, candidates in national and state races just now seem be digging into their war chests as the November general election looms more closely ahead.

While people rushed to grocery stores this past spring or began restaurant drive-thru routines, advertisers slashed spending. Brands now are revamping their budgets to invest heavily in two chief areas that have grown during the pandemic: E-commerce and digital products.

“The advertising and media worlds are on a crash course of innovation and disruption” is how Business Insider summed it up recently when it unfurled its annual 100 People Transforming Business list, which includes a number of innovators in the media and advertising worlds.

The list includes such heavyweights as Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter.

“As dual challenges bore down on the US in the form of the coronavirus crisis and the spotlight on police brutality against Black Americans,” Business Insider says, “Dorsey put his employees first, telling Twitter employees they could work remotely forever and becoming the first tech CEO to make Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery, a company holiday.”

Also noted are Dorsey’s nixing political ads on Twitter and pledging $1 billion of his equity in Square to charitable relief efforts, while also seeing Twitter’s overall ad revenues decline and dealing with a hack that compromised the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and others. 

“But Dorsey’s actions so far point to a new frontier for tech’s ruling class: a more egalitarian society where moral responsibility is a guiding principle,” Business Insider says.

The Business Insider list of 100 innovators also includes people who may be well-known within their industries, but perhaps not as much to the rest of the world, and are leading transformation — and thus future marketing strategies — in such areas as:

• Robotics, where Melonee Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics, helps lead the way.

“Its robots can assist with everything from moving carts around a factory floor to transporting heavy pallets autonomously,” Business Insider says of Fetch.

Wise, who has spent more than a decade pioneering in the field of robotics, has led Fetch through one of the busiest times in its five-year history.

“And since their AI systems are cloud-based, the robots can be deployed without a Fetch engineer ever having to set foot in the building — a feature that came in handy during the (coronavirus) outbreak when on-site visits were impossible.”

• Analytics and applications software, with recognition going to Que Dallara, CEO and president of Connected Enterprise, Honeywell.

Connected Enterprise is targeted to building operators who can deploy Honeywell software to monitor their facilities remotely during a pandemic.

“Roughly 10% of Honeywell’s $37 billion in annual sales come from software, but the company is hoping to grow that segment,” Business Insider says. “And Dallara’s unit will be instrumental in meeting that goal.

“That will mean more customers like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The world’s tallest building is backed by Honeywell Forge and the software can independently run operations like the A/C system.”

• Biotech disease treatment, with which Ted Love, CEO of Global Blood Therapeutics, has been heavily involved.

Love, a physician, tells Business Insider that while he was growing up in segregated Alabama, he had never heard of sickle-cell disease, a genetic condition that has been deadly for tens of thousands of Black people over the years.

“The truth is nobody talked about it,” he says. “Nobody talked about it in the Black community, and certainly nobody was talking about it outside the Black community.”

After a lengthy career in drug development, Love joined Global Blood in 2014 and became one of the few Black leaders in biotech’s higher circles. In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration approved the company’s sickle-cell treatment, Oxbryta.

“Global Blood is now focused on developing additional treatments,” notes Business Insider, “as are other biotechs hunting for cures for sickle cell using experimental gene therapy or gene-editing treatments.”

What other innovations, and thus more marketing opportunities, might lie ahead in a post-pandemic world? Discover more innovations, and their leaders, in Business Insider’s 100 People Transforming Business list here.

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