Bringing Together the Best in Mobile: M1 (“Mobile-First”) Summit

M1 ("Mobile First") Conference

M1 (“Mobile First”) Conference

The first annual conference on a technology that has transformed access and connections for users globally was held on May 20, 2014 and hosted by Nihal Mehta (@nihalmehta) at Eniac Ventures and Gary Moon at Headwaters MB. The concept of mobile-specific conferences are still somewhat new and M1 (“Mobile-First”) Summit took on the challenge of bringing together a variety of disciplines/categories to focus-in on the critical importance of smartphones. The Google report from May 2013 indicated smartphone penetration has risen to 56% of the US population and transformed consumer behavior and this number is only growing.

The conference was broken out into Q&A and panels; standard fare for conference circuits. The Q&A was classified as “Fireside Chats,” a traditional style of informal conversations between editors, writers and bloggers, as well as, leading CEOs, Partners, and SVPs of traditional and nontraditional companies that have experienced and adjusted their business because of the mobile revolution. As is customary, the panels covered a specific topic that coordinated with the expertise of the individuals.

The conference attendance in the morning was quite low, but by 11:30 AM the foyer of the Grand Hyatt in midtown was buzzing with attendees networking and sipping on fruit-infused water and coffee.

I sat in for the Fireside Chat with Esther Lee, SVP of Brand & Marketing, AT&T and Abbey Klaassen, editor at Advertising Age. AT&T has had to concentrate on the challenge of changing brand perception in parallel with incorporating mobile technology into the brand strategy. There is “not a single industry that isn’t being redefined by mobile technology,” said Ms. Lee. It is critical to understand that users will dictate how they want to interact with brands and this may be on a smartphone or their laptop computer. The context and need of the user “should drive what the screens and platforms should be.”

An ongoing theme that echoed throughout the conference, was that there are still significant gaps in the industry. “The Next Frontier of Mobile Advertising: Cross-Platform,” panel with Verizon, Tapad , Dstillery , Drawbridge and Foursquare kicked-off that there are issues specific to the connection of platforms, apps and devices to provide for optimal output of insights. Users expect seamlessness paired with context, and there is still significant progress needed. Omar Hamoui (@omarh), keynote speaker, illuminated the audience with the staggering stat that the number of connected devices has surpassed the Earth’s population. The world population is over 7 billion people ; the number of devices is estimated between 8-10 billion as of 2012 . The world has achieved a connected state and now the pressure has extended to making that experience significant. The adoption rate has grown so rapidly while the creation and development of assets to support the use and connection are still in their infancy.

Wearables are a great example of this. Fitness and health manufacturing provided for the first wave of wearable technology and now there is a new vision for this opportunity. Tracking your vitals and receiving relevant content the moment you want it or need it have exploded in growth. Only now this piece of technology can also easily match your outfit; i.e “on Wednesdays we wear the Cuff bracelet.” The companies that participated in the “Wearable Tech: The Next Fashion Frontier” were Ringblinz (, MEMI (, Trellie (, Cuff ( and Brand Foundry Ventures (capital investment firm). I had a chance to approach the panelists at the end for a sneak peek at the “jewelry” and thought all of the pieces would be something I would wear happily. Well-crafted and light-weight, they felt just like any other fashion jewelry you would buy in Soho, NYC.

The features of this next generational wearables caters to functions outside of the health and fitness angle. These necklaces, rings and cuffs now offer women a quick security system or a quick notification of social interactions on your mobile for teens and adults (so as to eliminate constant checking and missing), and as pointed out by one of the panelists, “women still hold the buying power,” so catering to this gender in the wearables market does make a lot of sense. All panelists also agreed that in the next couple of years the term “wearables” will no longer be applicable. They will be so ingrained in our daily culture that this term will no longer be relevant. I, for one, was happy to hear that.

So, what are some of the drawbacks and weaknesses of this current category? These are small companies, not a Nike or Jawbone with an established market and support. The biggest complication is tied to the hardware. This process is expensive and difficult to manage. Thankfully, the digital elements are now the simple element. We have progressed that far.  We didn’t have a chance to ask questions but I was intrigued to know if possibly 3-D printing could be the great equalizer for these sorts of companies. Also, the location of selling is a big element. There isn’t a natural space to sell but the consensus was department stores would be most likely.

Yet, an individual isn’t going to want to have to wear multiple devices to track all of the important elements in their lives, right? Maybe, maybe not. The push to acclimate users and provide a benefit long enough to support habit formation might just be the key. Users are not ultimately going to be able to handle too many tasks to see performance results or even to feel secure. Solving for that will lead to outright winners in the field.

Continuing onward with the idea of developing with women as the target audience segued nicely with a quick panel on “Girls Who Code….on Mobile.” Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code ( and Jocelyn Leavitt , Founder and CEO of Hopscotch , led a truly inspiring discussion on why it is so critically important to engage with young girls and women on the importance of embracing computer science and programming. It isn’t really a new story that females in the US are behind males in the field of computer science. The Atlantic and US News and World Report both published articles on the gender gap between males and females taking the computer science AP exam in high schools throughout the US. While females lead the charge in terms of overall AP tests (almost 2.1 million girls in the US took AP tests in 2013, versus 1.75 million boys), “boys outnumber girls by more than 4 to 1 among computer science test-takers.”  As suggested in the article by the Atlantic is the need to “start Earlier.” This sentiment was echoed by the panel as well as the theory that girls need to be shown that it is okay to fail; “failing before succeeding” is integral part of programming. This mantra could be extended to many aspects of life; understanding iterative gains versus expectation of initial success should be permeating through education. Girls need to feel encouraged “to fail, to learn, to disrupt.” I couldn’t agree more.

The final presentations captured the ongoing spirit of the conference: we can do better. The “Pushing Mobile Advertising to be More Effective” criticized the underwhelming vision of ad campaigns in the mobile space. Acting more as an annoying pest (when the ads actually display properly) than as a helpful guide to valuable content, there is a definite need for better methods of promotion. Matt Wallaert , a behavior scientist at Bing, (with no hang-ups about the term for search being branded “Google”), delivered a motivating presentation on the responsibility of providing a better experience for the user; “mobile is about action – less should be required of the user.” Users are engaging with their mobile phones with the expectation of completing a task and “search has fundamentally changed.” The fact that there are so many applications to interact with is more of a burden, a “paradox of choice” as termed by Barry Schwartz (, than as a refreshing plethora of options.

At the end of the day, only some of the applications, devices and technology will be successful. Even in the world of Online Dating, people have so many options to choose from as we heard from both Tinder ( and Hinge ( The appeal and success will be if the user deems the content to be valuable enough to integrate as part of their daily life. Jason Jacobs , founder and CEO of Runkeeper  highlighted the constraints of an application as being the user themselves. The app “only works if the user is interested in running, which is a growth barrier.”

Looking forward to M1 Summit 2015 and to see what unfolds over this coming year!

HxRefactored Health and Digital Conference – Brooklyn, New York

HxRefactored by Mad*Pow and Health 2.0

A few subway stops away from the bustling city streets of the Ultra Health Technology office in Soho was the HxRefactored Conference (, hosted by Mad*Pow ( and Health 2.0 ( held in the Marriott in Brooklyn, New York. Two days of workshops and sessions centered on UX, design and development. This conference was to be about the collaboration and integration of designers and developers. Typically these attendees would be in conferences dedicated to their specialization; the hxRefactored took on the challenge of bridging this gap.

Half of day 1 was focused on workshops for Gamification and user-centered design (the cost of the workshops were incremental to the attendee ticket pass to the conference); day 2 was a full day of the typical panel and presentation sessions.

Most of the sessions were broken out in 1/2 hour segments which created a bit of a rush to go through meaningful content and Q&A. The Q&A really drove the conversation and prompted a greater depth of detail on the topics. It was mostly through the question and answer element that attendees had an opportunity to vocalize what really interested them. Plus, time allocation to go to the next session didn’t really exist. You had to plan ahead. It was reminiscent of SXSW in that an attendee had to make difficult decisions about session attendance – a lot of conflicts.

The sessions were categorized so that an attendee would know the broad scope of what would be presented; i.e. Design Behavior Change, Design Vision and Innovation, Development Unstructured Health Data. While helpful, the separate pathways on the surface could be seen as a diversion from the original scope of integration. It was through the content of the presentations where the true blending occurred and topics were not defined so narrowly by their path in a majority of the cases.

The entire conference focus, as driven by both the session topics and the audience questions, could be summarized as follows:

  • Wearables (notable interest across many of the health conferences)
  • EHR (electronic health records; a surprising focal point through many of the sessions)
  • Health apps (beyond the usual tracking and stats)
  • Food (sustainability and health-oriented)
  • Process (testing methodologies and case studies were prevalent)
  • Government support and impact
  • Patient-focused (keen interest in making technology that appeals to the patients)
  • Security

Day 1

On Day 1 the first sessions opened after the workshops events and I kicked off the conference by attending the Healthy Design for People session with Elizabeth Bacon from Find Wellness ( and Lorraine Chapman from Macadamian ( They had a full hour with Q&A which allowed for some very insightful approaches to the UX and testing process. The key messages were that you “don’t need a ton of data points,” “quick and inexpensive” can still bring about some important outcomes and iterative, lean methodology is the way to go. This is something we fervently believe and put into action every day at Ultra Health Technologies, so it was easy to agree.

For example, to conduct user testing using a qualitative method (

  • 4-6 HCPs (consider senior vs junior levels when selecting)
  • 8-12 Consumers


Not Recommended

Ethnographic Group Research Studies
1:1 interviews Task Analysis
Diary Studies(interesting article describing this process is here:


Another key element is persona development; knowing your audience is a key variable to any successful deliverable:

  • define behavioral variables
  • map each data point
  • observe clusters
  • reflect on proto personas
  • refine, reduce, specify
  • add goals
  • flesh out presentation

I was also very impressed, as were the others in the room, with the journey mapping process. Elizabeth and Lorraine provided specific details on their internal processes to creating the optimal journey based on their user group(s).

I was originally planning to attend the Inspiration for Your App session but this became unavailable when there wasn’t a speaker available. This was a bit of a running theme; speakers had to drop out of the conference in a few sessions because of personal matters. Some managed to be covered and others became more of a generic Q&A panel session.

The last session I attended for the day was Blue Button: Working with Health Data to Empower Patients by Thomas Black, Department of Veteran Affairs. His powerful message of “Data is the lifeblood of healthcare” is hardly arguable. It drives not only the B2B agenda, but also consumers want to know their own data. They want to have a better sense of what their data means to them on a personal level. Once patients have entrusted their data to a particular insurance company or healthcare provider, their desire to switch is low. This loyalty is driven by an aversion to the chaotic idea of change.

Sessions tended to be standing room only

Sessions tended to be standing room only

Day 2

After the opening brief keynotes, HIT is a Team Sport by Allscripts (via Stanley Crane) was the first session to kick-off Day 2. The focus was mostly on the sandbox environment provided by Allscripts to the development community. This was a bit of a running theme as well in the conference; everyone now sees the vision of open collaboration with outside developers for innovation. This was discussed in the How to Scale: Building the World’s Largest (and fittest) Community with Kevin Callahan from MapMyFitness ( @mapmyfitness). We heard some interesting stats such as there had been over 15 million workouts logged in the last 30 days as of May 13th but the majority of the focus was on partnerships and development opportunities.

My favorite presentation of the day was delivered by Nick Crocker (@nickcrocker) of @myfitnesspal. My lack of love for PowerPoint presentation delivery was subdued by Mr. Crocker’s usage of the software. Minimalistic and used only to enhance the speech he was providing, we got an inside look into the daily struggle and the battle to overcome the barriers of a typical fitness app user. “Life is the barrier,” he said. “Vices, easy outs, sickness and travel.” MyFitnessPal is seeking to rise above the standard “reminder” messaging that infiltrates our current portable smartphones and make interactions be more of a “realistic portrayal of what a real human would do” such as a personal trainer or military boot camp officer might provide (yelling, and intense demeanor is optional).

Some other highlights from day 2 include an important topic that is of critical important to me, and to the presenter, Megan Grocki (@megangrocki ) from Mad*Pow on the social responsibility of the food system. Let food be thy medicine: improving healthy by fixing the food system delivered an on-point message: health deterioration shows a directly proportional relationship to the deterioration of our food systems. Regulation, reporting, access are all fundamental issues plaguing our world and we have the capabilities in the digital space to impact and influence change. Megan provided some solutions such as Kel Smith’s (@kelsmith) Aisle Won project ( connecting the providers of healthy, affordable food to people who need it.

Additionally the topic of EHR was mentioned several times; an example of this dialogue was through insights from Gregory Moore (@GJMooreMDPhD) at the Geisenger Health System on Strategies for Start-ups to Partner with Healthcare Systems. The main takeaway is that the delivery of a key, concise marketing opportunity will make or break the possibility of a partnership. Currently patient-friendly content is just not available. Patients may have access to their charts, graphs and data and can engage with their HCPs to correct inaccurate information or become more knowledgeable. Anyone that has seen a pathology report or lab test results will know that the word “complex” and “difficult to understand” is an understatement. We can do better.

There are lots of opportunities to continue to address the unmet needs of HCPs and patients in the healthcare digital space with plenty of resources at our disposal. It will be exciting to see what the next couple of years will bring in terms of innovation and advancement.

An Introduction to SXSW for the Newbie

Presentation Highlights from SXSW

Presentation Highlights from SXSW

The friendly faces and smell of BBQ was everywhere. Thousands of eager people exploring the #SXSW2014 event with a hunger for information as well as the delicious food and social atmosphere. Some of them had been there for the first time, just like me. This is a first-person interpretation of the Interactive SXSW experience in Austin, Texas. I am sure everyone’s experience is a little different but the basics are the same.
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